NPR News’ NextGenRadio Features UCF Students, Faculty

UCF journalism student Lilly Hernandez Caraballo, left, puts together her story on an Argentinian immigrant who came to Orlando and opened a restaurant. Hernandez’s mentor, Gabriela Saldivia, sits to her right.


If there’s one thing UCF student Lillian Hernández Caraballo knows about journalism, it’s that you can’t miss a deadline. Her dedication to meeting an important deadline helped her land a coveted spot in the NPR News’ national training program, NextGenRadio.

UCF’s Nicholson School of Communication and Media and WUCF-TV partnered with Central Florida’s WMFE 90.7FM to bring the program to Orlando from April 29-May 3. Four of the six students selected to participate in Orlando’s “boot camp” were from UCF: journalism majors Hernández Caraballo and Monica Sealey; interdisciplinary studies major Rhyan Grant; and English major Emily Lang. The other two students were from Valencia College and Full Sail University.

NextGenRadio is a week-long “pop-up” digital journalism training experience. It is designed to give competitively selected participants interested in podcasting, audio storytelling, radio reporting and visual journalism the skills and opportunity to find and produce their own multimedia story. Each selected participant is paired with a professional journalist, and together they find, report and produce a non-narrated story as well as use stills and video to fill out their story.

The theme of the week’s stories was immigration, specifically “First Days in America.”

Rick Brunson ’84, associate instructor in the Nicholson School, represented the university in the partnership and is mentoring one of the students.

“We are fanning out around Central Florida to locate, capture and tell the stories of immigrants who have arrived here and are making a new life,” he says. “The training is highly structured with tutorials in audio reporting, web production, social media production, photography, video and more. Our stories will be richly layered, textured and multimedia in nature.”

Hernández Carabello, a junior, recounts that she had been in a car crash that left her unable to walk during the NextGenRadio application process. When she found out she was a finalist, she had a very short window of time to submit her story proposal.

“There I was, no car (just got wrecked), no way to walk or hardly move, no way to get up, put the work into it and get my story. But I wanted it,” Hernández Carabello says. “I hired a driver and went in my wheelchair and crutches and hobbled around downtown Orlando for hours until I found my story. I was outside a closed Starbucks leaching on their WiFi on my dying laptop trying to submit my pitch in on time. It was due at 11:59 p.m., I got it in at 11:41. The program is intense and I knew the deadline had to be met — these are professionals. I had to step it up. And, I guess, accident or not, that is the major challenge of the program, as well as its reward. Learning to be professional, timely, and focused enough to fit into the team and produce a story of the caliber of NPR.”

The stories are available to view and hear at They may also air on local and national NPR channels.

“I’m pleased and proud to be part of it—and more to see our students part of it,” says Brunson.


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