Brendan O’Donnell, Class of 2014

Major: CSS; Organization: Afropop Worldwide; Location: Brooklyn, NY

Brendan O’Donnell, Class of 2014

Afropop Worldwide is a small radio show, with a full-time staff of three and probably another 6 part-time staff. Nevertheless, it has been on the air for twenty-five years and is one of the main sources for information about music from Africa and the African Diaspora. Over the summer, I worked at Afropop as a Content/Development Intern. This was a fairly flexible position. While I never worked in Afropop’s studio and did not have influence on the radio show itself, I had a hand in almost everything else that Afropop did. For example, every day I would come to the office and check emails. This would often entail sifting through spam, people sending us notices about African music-related events in New York City, and often tracks by new or established artists looking for some coverage. If I came across an interesting event or track, I would tweet about it. If I found an especially interesting piece of music, I would even write a blog post about it for Afropop’s website. It was fascinating to have the chance to actually produce content for Afropop’s website that other people would actually read.

I would often follow other blogs, musicians, and news sources to seek out post-worthy material. I also wrote album reviews. This was an especially fun task because I got exposure to new albums, artists, and genres on a regular basis. Additionally, in the process of writing the album review, I invariably would learn more about the artist and genre, which was great and introduced me to many new artists.

When I wasn’t producing content for Afropop’s website, I would often do something called “migration.” Migration involved taking interviews from Afropop’s old server, proofreading them, and formatting them properly on the new server. While this could have been boring, it gave me the opportunity to read huge numbers of interviews with African musicians and scholars of music from Africa and the African Diaspora, which was fascinating.

I also helped Afropop at events around New York City, handing out fliers and talking with people about Afropop and its mission. Finally, I assisted regularly in the office with whatever technological matters needed to be resolved.

Overall, I loved my experience at Afropop. It taught me a lot about how non-profits work, and it also gave me the opportunity to expand my world music background.