KEARNEY – Micah Goedeken had the perfect introduction for Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.”

“For this next song, you might need a little more cowbell,” he told listeners, referencing the classic “Saturday Night Live” skit featuring Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken.

Lutheran High Northeast senior Micah Goedeken spends time in the KLPR radio studio Thursday during the Digital Expressions Media Camp at UNK. (Photo by Erika Pritchard, UNK Communications)

Goedeken, a senior at Lutheran High Northeast in Norfolk, couldn’t wait to use the line Thursday evening, when he spent about an hour DJing for KLPR 91.1 FM, the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus radio station.

Although his dream is to be a film director, the studio time definitely piqued his interest in a radio career.

“I’m really enjoying this,” Goedeken said. “This is really cool.”

Jacob Rosdail

That reaction doesn’t surprise UNK associate communication professor Jacob Rosdail. The on-air shifts at KLPR are always a favorite among students attending the Digital Expressions Media Camp.

“They don’t know how many people are listening, so they’re all nervous and excited about it,” said Rosdail, who directs the weeklong summer camp hosted by UNK’s Department of Communication.

Started in 2016, the Digital Expressions Media Camp gives high schoolers an opportunity to explore careers in broadcasting and communication while gaining hands-on experience in the field.

Participants learn about videography, photography, video and audio editing and graphic design before using UNK’s high-end equipment and their own creativity to produce short films, public service announcements and other content. This year’s campers – 17 students from 13 communities in Nebraska and Iowa – also got to use the new video studio on campus, giving them experience with a teleprompter, green screen, switchboard and other elements of a TV newsroom.

Centura Public Schools senior Faith McDonald, left, and North Platte High School senior Andrew Connelly work on a project in the UNK video studio during the Digital Expressions Media Camp. (Photo by Erika Pritchard, UNK Communications)

In addition to learning from UNK faculty, camp participants heard from several guest speakers, including former Loper and current national sports broadcaster Brenda VanLengen, and they toured the NRG Media and NTV studios.

Rosdail’s goal is to teach students how to communicate more effectively and express themselves using digital tools – they’re already using platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and YouTube, he noted – as well as promote professional opportunities that allow people to make a living while having fun.

“I’m hoping that this camp opens their eyes to the fact that there are jobs out there that aren’t just 9 to 5 sitting behind a desk,” he said. “You can go out and create stuff for a public good or entertainment.”

The Digital Expressions Media Camp serves another important purpose. It’s a chance to get high schoolers on campus for six days and introduce them to all the great facilities and programs at UNK. Although the camp includes a commuter option, all but three students chose to stay in a residence hall.

“There’s definitely a recruitment element to it,” Rosdail said. “These are kids who are passionate enough about learning about media and potential careers to consider our department as their college destination. By creating a level of familiarity and comfort, UNK begins to feel like home because they have good memories of being here with their friends and having fun.”

Along with the educational components, campers took part in a barbecue, scavenger hunt, pizza party and trivia and movie nights. They also got to meet current UNK communication students, who served as camp counselors.

“One of my favorite things is hiring our counselors,” Rosdail said. “I think they grow so much as students in our department by being put into teacher/mentor roles.”

For Goedeken, picking the best part of camp is a bit more difficult.

“I would say all of it,” he said. “It’s great to meet all these people who come together, learn these skills and make something together.”

The following students, listed by hometown, participated in UNK’s Digital Expressions Media Camp:

  • Audubon, Iowa – Duane Vetter
  • Bradshaw – Josie McCormick
  • Elm Creek – Luke Warner
  • Grand Island – Levi Ottman
  • Hastings – Tessa Reinhard
  • Kearney – Camille Hartman, Gavin Johnson, Hunter Pokorney, Mitchell Brandt, Naomi Chavez
  • Madison – Micah Goedeken
  • Minden – Toumi Ayai
  • North Platte – Andrew Connelly
  • Omaha – Maisie Wieser
  • Pleasanton – Payden Tracy
  • Rockville – Faith McDonald
  • Sutherland – Glory Naughtin