Meet Clarion Radio’s new GM



Cassandra Cullen is Clarion Radio’s new General Manager, pictured at a radio booth at one of the campus club events.

Paige Zezulka, Copy Editor

Imagine driving home from work. Everything about the journey is the same as the day before. The congested traffic, the light of day turning into dusk and the constant battle of the static on the radio. Finally, one station tunes in clear. Only this time is different, a familiar voice appears.

Cassandra Cullen, a Madison College student, realized her passion for broadcasting after her friend mentioned that she heard a “girl” that sounded just like her on the radio on her way home from work one day. Cullen shared the memory while laughing, “I’m like, no, that is me!”

“To have someone recognize my voice, I was like, wow, that is awesome!” said Cullen. Little did she know she would be the next general manager for Clarion Radio a year later.

The St. Louis, MO native, took a courageous leap and moved away from her hometown in 2018 to explore the many options before her. She was one of those people who sacrificed comfort for opportunity.

“I really didn’t have, like, a lot in mind as to what I wanted to be, other than being happy.” said Cullen, the jack of all trades. She had envisioned herself once as a veterinarian or the “wife of a rich man,” and even tried many jobs, such as working in fast food to being a caregiver. But nothing truly aligned, until she came to Wisconsin.

“I feel everyone should move away from their hometown at least once just to get to know themselves better. I have gotten to know myself so much just by moving six hours away.” said Cullen.

After the move, Cullen quickly realized it was time to expand her path even more, which led her to Madison College a year later.

As a journalism and marketing student, with a focus on production, Cullen has a lot of passion for the world of media. After joining The Clarion, Madison College’s student-based newspaper in the spring of 2019, this passion only grew.

“I really didn’t know what I wanted to do when I first started school,” said Cullen. Then one moment that all changed. One of her professors mentioned that The Clarion needed some help and she said, “I think I’m going to do that; just so that I can get to know people because I was alone, and I just wanted to meet likeminded people.”

The part time student began writing articles as a staff writer for The Clarion, not many but a few to get her feet wet. Though, writing turned into something more when the “grand-dad” of The Clarion introduced Cullen to the broadcasting side of media.

“Doug, he actually pretty much forced me to be like a DJ for an hour on the radio, on Clarion Radio, and I realized how much I really liked that because I do enjoy going to shows, listening to music. So, to be able to let people hear the music I listen to really got me started into wanting to go into media.”

Cullen, now the new general manager for the broadcasting team, which consists of Clarion Radio, a YouTube channel and news, is not only a DJ but also runs her own radio show called C@t’s Corner.

Cullen’s show consists of random topics, “you know, whatever comes to mind,” and is broadcasted on Thursdays at 3:30 p.m.

“There is really not one topic that I like to talk about because I do like to learn, and I like to know about things that I had no idea about.” said Cullen.

Clarion Radio also airs the show, Good Times, with Sabeel Samrah every Tuesday at 11 a.m. This show entails discussion and music based off positivity. Then, there is World Language Soundscapes, hosted by Britton Downing and his son Cole every Friday at noon, 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. This production focuses on Spanish and French music.

“The great thing about the Clarion Radio itself is that you can really talk about whatever you want to. So, every week is different.” said Cullen.

Clarion Radio allows its listeners to tune in 24/7, providing access to a variety of music and Clarion news. For the radio shows, listeners are only able to listen to them at their designated times. Though, the team is in the process of uploading shows to SoundCloud so viewers can listen in at any given time.

Cullen explained the radio station is running into a few difficulties due to the pandemic, making it challenging for newcomers who want to learn. The campus’s COVID-19 guidelines require students to wear masks and only allows students at certain times to visit, which can be tricky when needing to learn something hands on.

Even with these roadblocks, Cullen explained there are ways to work around them. The software Audition that the campus uses is not capable to be accessed at home. But students are still able to work from home if they have the ability to record themselves. Once the recording is complete, the individual can send it over to Cullen and she will be able to put the show onto Clarion Radio.

Another helpful aspect of Clarion Radio is that they will have different show ideas prepped for students to choose from. “It is difficult to think of a show topic for yourself,” said Cullen. So, the broadcasting team is there for assistance to get students started.

At the moment, there are seven people on Clarion Radio’s team, “My hopes for being the general manager is to at least get one or two more people recruited for The Clarion,” said Cullen, “I don’t think people realize that this type of media is very popular, and they don’t know how to get started working in this media and working with Clarion Radio will definitely get you started. You can do as little and as much as you want.”

Cullen not only participates with Clarion Radio, but also works part time. She has been employed with a few different jobs since starting school, such as working for the radio station JJO and the sister station, The Resistance at Midwest Family Broadcasting. Before COVID-19 hit, she even worked for Frank Productions assisting with their several venues like the Sylvee, High Noon Saloon, The Majestic and Orpheum Theater.

Now, Cullen works for GrubHub, “Which gives me a lot of free time as a driver because I can pick my hours. So, I get to be home, training my dog, and then I can go to school and work as the GM.”

With Clarion Radio’s influence, Cullen’s present and future interest is within the world of broadcasting, “With broadcasting, I want to be a part of that. I want people to hear my voice and know that what I’m saying is correct. Not so much like fox news or whatever, or CNN, but unbiased. I want them to think what I say is interesting, that they go and tell their friends.”

As broadcasting mediums become more and more popular, such as radio, television and podcasts, people tend to shift their attention away from print-based material. With the media industry always in constant motion, one who indulges in such interest also needs to be up to speed.

Cullen, who will soon have a journalism certificate, a marketing degree and background in broadcast media, will shortly have all the necessary tools as well as the momentum to move forward in her career.