Concordia journalism student spends after-school hours producing a radio show at CJAD 800
A degree is important, especially in the 21st century, but one Concordia journalism student has found that hard experience can teach you more.
“Yes, school is important, but already with the experience that I have while working and from school, I am able to become something stronger once I get that degree,” said Concordia journalism student and CJAD 800 producer Cora MacDonald.
MacDonald knows the importance of a university degree in this day and age. However, she said the opportunities she’s gained during her internship at the CJAD radio station and her determination to do the best at her job has proven to be equally as powerful.
Now 29-years-old, MacDonald’s journey to find her passion has been a long one, since at 27, she was a philosophy student at Concordia.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was in an existential crisis,” said MacDonald. “So I took existentialism [as a class].”
When making one of her schedules, she enrolled in a journalism class that was only accessible to students in the program. She was accidentally accepted.
A classmate in the course recommended an extracurricular activity that changed her life. The student told her to join the Street Team at Astral Media—so she did.
“When I would be driving in the car with my ex-boyfriend listening to CJAD, I would always say ‘one day I’m going to be on the radio,’” MacDonald said. “I would say it jokingly.”
Little did she know, that was exactly what she was setting herself up for. The Street Team covers promotional events for stations including CHOM, CJAD and Virgin Radio. MacDonald even covered events with her job for the Montreal Alouettes’ football team, and made important connections while working there.
“You are going there for the purpose of creating a name in the journalism world,” she said.
MacDonald did just that by striving to go above and beyond expectations for three months at the street team, despite rocky circumstances in her personal life. She had suffered from a drinking problem.
“I became sober for this job and career,” she said. “I haven’t had a drink in over a year and a half, since my job has given me a purpose. I wake up every single day and I am grateful [for the station].”
After three months on the street team, she asked to be put in contact with Chris Bury, the program director and news director at Bell Media, who had taken over from Astral Media. After a meeting with Bury and receiving great feedback about her performance with the Street Team, she was given the opportunity to intern for CJAD.
MacDonald helped work on Todd van der Heyden’s Viewpoints and the Tommy Schnurmacher Show.
“I touched on research, chases and I saw a lot of things I pitched go to air with Todd van der Heyden,” said MacDonald. “I booked at least a guest per show.”
In the end, this experience made her apply, twice, to the journalism program.
“I was in the running for the opportunity to have a full-time position as a producer but I said no, purely because I want those letters at the end of my name,” MacDonald explained. “With my degree, I can become an executive producer.”
MacDonald explained that a diploma shows that you are accomplished and knowledgeable in your chosen field. Work experience can disappear if a company is restructuring, for example. While it was a challenge to get these positions, she knows how valuable these opportunities have been.
“I am relentless,” MacDonald laughed. “I never let someone say no to me. It may be terrible in my personal life, but as a journalist it’s great.”
MacDonald is in her second year at Concordia in journalism and is the weekend producer at CJAD 800. She is also Todd van der Heyden’s producer on his nationally syndicated radio show Viewpoints which airs Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. on CJAD 800.