It’s been a whirlwind of a summer interning in the promotions department at my favorite radio station, WXRT.
My weekdays consist of spending time in the office at the Prudential Building in downtown Chicago. Weekly meetings with staff members from all different departments have been instrumental in opening my eyes to the ins and outs of the media world and have made me feel like I’m an integral part of the station. Covering relevant music news in articles that I write for the station’s website has sharpened my music and pop culture knowledge as well as my writing skills.
I’ve also gained important knowledge of Chicago itself, finding my way through various neighborhoods within the city and spending time downtown at staple Chicago events such as the Blues Festival and Taste of Chicago. From proudly promoting the station in the city’s annual Gay Pride Parade to greeting fans at our promotions tent at Mumford and Sons’ biggest U.S. headline show so far, I’ve had a blast and feel privileged to represent WXRT on location at numerous events every week.
Of all the events we’ve covered this summer, one stands out in my mind as a once-in-a-lifetime, unforgettable experience: promoting at the Grateful Dead’s Chicago stop on their Fare Thee Well tour and getting to see the band perform in their last show ever together.
From the fleet of colorful Dead-themed vendors lining Soldier Field to the vibrant and sprawling tailgate area enveloping the stadium, from the unconditional dedication of the fans to the passion and pure joy emanating from the band themselves, my experience at the last concert of the Grateful Dead’s Fare Thee Well tour was unlike any other. There was a wide array of pre-concert fun to be had in the concourse, consisting of a village of various tents peddling their wares or engaging with the crowd. Highlights included Grateful Dead-themed food, unique concert merchandise, a live band, and, of course, our WXRT promotions tent.
We were planted right in the heart of the concourse, and the tent was filled with interns and staff jamming to Dead tunes and conversing with friendly folks in the crowd. Though we usually promote our summer sponsors in addition to WXRT at the events we attend, this particular day was all about the radio station. WXRT was the exclusive radio station sponsor of the Chicago concert series, and being able to represent WXRT on this special day felt extremely rewarding as I saw so many fans genuinely thrilled to be at the show and excited see us at our promotions tent.
While in the tent, we ran a contest for fans to enter to win exclusive vinyl and t-shirts from WXRT as well as a hefty box set of the Grateful Dead’s discography on CD. We also blasted some pre-concert music to get the crowd pumped up while they waited for the doors to finally open.
As we made our way to the pit before the show, I felt the electric energy of the crowd as everyone grew more and more excited for the main event. When the band finally took the stage, the crowd went wild with true love. In real jam-band fashion, each song kept on truckin’ for a satisfyingly long while. My personal favorite was the rollicking rendition of their tune “Samson and Delilah”, which really got the crowd moving. Cohesive and blissful movement replaced the typical push-and-shove program of concert dancing, as everyone just wanted to jam and have a good time in harmony. Exiting the concert to the tune of hundreds of thousands of happy people and a beautiful fireworks display has been one of my favorite memories of the summer.
Memories like these are the ones I’ll cherish for a lifetime after interning with WXRT. Not only am I gaining invaluable experience working and observing in the office and on location in a field that I am truly passionate about, but I am also participating in once-in-a-lifetime events with people who share my love for music and have a wealth of knowledge to share. Seeing the logistics materialize behind the magic of radio and the amount of effort and dedication that go into creating and executing such a unique and spontaneous form of media has confirmed my love for the field and continues to prepare me for a hopeful future in radio.
Camille Michelotti is a rising junior studying Radio/Television/Film.