Since graduating with honors from Brookdale in 2013, Daniela Berson has been making a few waves in the world of radio. Specifically, airwaves. At 23, Berson has already become a familiar voice on New Jersey 101.5, serving as the station’s evening news anchor and providing on-air news updates throughout the day.
She previously worked with WMAL radio in Washington D.C., after earning a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from American University in 2015 and completing an internship with the nonprofit advocacy group Public Citizen.
During a special presentation hosted by Brookdale’s History and Political Science Club in Lincroft on Nov. 3, Berson spoke with students about her life and experiences since Brookdale and provided some valuable advice for those looking to duplicate her success. From the importance of networking and internships to value of starting at the bottom and working your way up, Berson told the audience that there is simply no substitute for hard work and passion.
“You should always be willing to chip in wherever you can,” said Berson, who majored in political science at Brookdale and was an active member of the Brookdale Honors Program and the History and Political Science Club. “You have to push yourself to get to where you want to go, and the way you do that is by showing people that you are the one they can rely on when they really need someone.”
Berson detailed her educational and professional odyssey from New Jersey to the nation’s capital and back, which included countless 12-hour workdays, three-hour daily commutes on a bus and scraping by on entry level wages in order to break into the radio industry.
Following WMAL, Berson first applied for a web editorial position with 101.5, hoping to land a desk job and ultimately work her way up to an on-air position. She didn’t get the job, she said, but she was able to make an impression with executive news director Eric Scott, who called her back to interview for a news anchor position months later. The rest, she said, is history.
While her career trajectory has not been easy, Berson said is has certainly been worth it. A lifelong news junkie who developed her passion for journalism at the age of 7, while following the hotly contested presidential election in 2000, Berson said there is no substitute for doing something you love.
“Sometimes you find that one thing you fall in love with. And If you find that and put in the work to see it through, you’ll never be unhappy,” she said.
“When you are passionate, you are willing to do more. The more jobs you are willing to do, the more opportunities will open up for you. There are jobs now that focus on writing, producing and doing things on-air, which is what I do. I am a combination of all those things. And that’s what a majority of jobs in the journalism field are like nowadays. You have to be that one-person journalism machine, doing everything.”
Berson also hosted a question and answer session with the students in attendance, providing details on a day in the life of a broadcast professional, tips for landing rewarding internships, and explaining the importance of getting involved and gaining professional experience long before a student graduates from college. Those sentiments were echoed by political science professor and Honors Program coordinator Jonathan Moschberger, who emceed the presentation.
“What Daniela said today is so true,” Moschberger said. “When charting your course, you need to think about what is going to make you happy, what will get you up and out to work every day and fill you with passion. And now is the time to get involved, to join clubs and get involved with the student newspaper or the radio station and get the experience that will help you figure that out.”
Berson’s presentation was a hit with the students in attendance, including aspiring sports broadcasters and Brookdale Student Radio members Neil Villapiano and Ben Berube.
“I thought it was very informative,” said Villapiano, a first-year student who hosts his own sports themed web series, The MVP Show. “She gave me a lot of ideas and really helped me understand what it takes to create those kind of opportunities in your career field, what it takes to push forward and succeed in what I want to do.”
“I recently discovered I want to pursue a career a radio, so this was great for me,” said Berube, a second-year student who hosts a student radio stream titled Sports Talk Radio With Ben. “I’m more into sports than politics, but just the fact that she is in the business and knows so much and has so much insight, I feel that when I get into the business I’ll have a better understanding of what is going to happen. I feel like I can prepare a little bit better now.”
Check out more photos of Daniela Berson’s presentation here.