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"Where Are They Now?" Featuring Aurora Shimshak

In this series, we're catching up with some of the UNCW/WHQR past Graduate Fellows.

Next up is Aurora Shimshak, who was the Operations Fellow from 2015-2016.

What is your job title and role now?

I work at the University of Wisconsin Press as a customer service and business development specialist. It's not as glamorous as public radio.

What was your position at WHQR and how long were you here?

I was the Operations Fellow. From July 2015 to July 2016, I was the voice saying, "It's 3:00. Stay tuned for Fresh Air."

What school were you in and what was your degree?

I studied creative writing at UNCW and earned an MFA with a specialization in nonfiction.

What do you remember most about your time at HQR?

Oh my goodness, I couldn't pick a single memory. Each person who worked at the station was a character. You couldn't find a more fun-loving bunch of folks. I loved the theatrics and passion of the classical music hosts, Bob Workman, Pat Marriott, and Gina Gambony. I soaked in the warmth and humor of Lan Nichols, George Scheibner, and Ken Campbell. Barbara Bush's straightforward wit made me laugh every time I talked to her. Jeff and Kate put me at ease with their friendly and down-to-earth conversation. Rachel Lewis Hilburn impressed me with her empathetic interviewing and her calm. And Mary Bradley's two little girls were adorable guests at the station. (They are no doubt grown up with college degrees by now.)

My favorite part of my job was recording commentaries. Each week, I'd get to listen to what had been on a thoughtful, observant Wilmingtonian's mind.

Any funny or exceptional memory or experience you can share?

The station was a place of unexpected connections. Once I answered the phone and it was my favorite radio host from Wisconsin, Anne Strainchamps, calling to nail down a remote recording session. Another time, I got to see my next door neighbor, a blue's musician, perform at Soup to Nuts. He was fantastic!

How did your fellowship impact your future and where you are now?

My fellowship spoiled me for all future employment. Any chance WHQR will take me back? In all seriousness, I came to WHQR without an ounce of radio experience. I left knowing that, if motivated, it was possible to jump into a brand new field. I also learned about voice: how to use it to express authority, friendliness, and calm. I'm hoping that knowledge of voice will help me when I get to go on book tour.

Anything else you'd like to add?

With some distance, I realize how lucky Wilmington is to have WHQR. The station is a community hub — a spreader of fun, deep learning, art, and information. I miss you.

To catch up with other past WHQR/UNCW Graduate Fellows, click here.

Mary Bradley moved to Wilmington from Los Angeles, CA in May 2007 with her husband Frank and twin baby daughters, Maggie and Kate. In California, Mary had been Drive Director and the producer of Elvis Mitchell's nationally syndicated public radio interview program "The Treatment" for public radio station KCRW for ten years. Mary was raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Boston University. Mary recently served as President of the Board of Directors of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Cape Fear Chapter.