Alumna discovers her radio fellowship has a North Central connection

Aug 28, 2014

Laurel White ’10 always thought of herself as a “print” person, so she spent her years at North Central climbing the editorial ladder of the student-run newspaper, The Chronicle, and squeezing in a term as a DJ at WONC-FM 89.1.

But careers can take unexpected twists and turns, and after a fortuitous series of events, White was named the Lee Ester News Fellow at Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) in Madison. The nine-month position provides on-air experience for an emerging journalist. The late Lee Ester ’50 was a journalist who—like White—edited The Chronicle at North Central. The fellowship was established by Leota Ester ’51, honorary trustee, in 2008 to honor her late husband. “Lee would be pleased to know that a North Central alumna has the opportunity to work and learn with the exceptional news staff at Wisconsin Public Radio,” says Leota Ester.

“I was thrilled when I found out,” adds White.

White admits that landing the fellowship represents “one those great unexpected life path events.”  While working on her master’s at Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she pursued an internship at National Public Radio (NPR) in Washington, D.C. “I enjoy and respect the style and brand. I wasn't expecting to fall in love, but that’s really what happened, as cheesy as it sounds. I just love the stories they tell and the way they tell them.”

While interning with “All Things Considered” at NPR and preparing for graduation from Northwestern, White decided she needed more on-air experience. “The Lee Ester Fellowship was exactly what I needed: a sort of bridge into the public radio world.” 

Lee Ester (photo, right) was an avid public radio listener who served on the board of Wisconsin Public Radio Association from 1992 to 1998. “Lee valued the integrity of WPR reporting and highly respected the news staff,” Leota Ester says. “He began his news career under Professor (Dick) Eastman’s excellent tutelage, first as a reporter and during his senior year as editor of The Chronicle.”  

While majoring in English: writing and minoring in both interactive media studies and social change and public advocacy, White conducted research in London and earned a Dunn Fellowship to work in the Illinois Governor’s Press Office in Springfield, IL, after graduation. She continues to build impressive credentials with her new position in Wisconsin. “I feel like I've made a great decision coming here and I can’t wait to see what the future holds,” she adds.