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Meet a Member: Dana Vollmer

As part of our 'Meet a Member' profiles, get to know one of our newest INBA board members, Dana Vollmer. Vollmer is a reporter at WCBU Public Radio in Peoria. Before that, she covered the Illinois Capitol for NPR Illinois. Vollmer also has a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield. 

1) What got you interested in joining INBA?

I joined INBA at the suggestion of my more experienced (and wiser) colleagues. One conference and I was hooked. The educational components help fill in gaps in broadcast expertise that journalism school doesn’t teach. It’s exciting to spend time with other folks in the industry who you’d only previously known from their byline. It’s also really valuable to hear about what’s happening elsewhere around the state –– not just in your own backyard.

2) For you, what are the benefits of being a part of INBA?

INBA has been at the center of every major career move I’ve made so far. I joined as a part-time producer while I was finishing my bachelor’s. I met Charlie Wheeler at an INBA conference, which led me to graduate school –– something I never thought I’d have the opportunity to pursue. When it came time to apply for my first full-time reporting gig, the first place I turned to folks I’d connected with through INBA and the Illinois Public Radio network –– and it paid off. Above all, the best benefit of being a part of INBA is the people who continually inspire and support me.

3) What got you interested in journalism and why is it important to you?

Journalism appealed to me because it allows you to learn and explore every day. It leads you to so many subjects, places and people you otherwise might not have paid attention to. It’s also a job that centers public service. Journalists can be mediators between community members and the information they need –– answering questions when they don’t know where else to turn, arming them with the knowledge to make informed decisions and helping to hold those in power accountable.

4) Why did you choose to pursue news radio and what do you love most about it? 

I’ve wanted to work for NPR since I was in school. I’d grown to love public radio because of its ability to let subjects speak for themselves and to make listeners feel like they know a person or place. I also loved how seamlessly people could work into their lives –– catching up on the news during their commute or listening to their favorite podcast while cooking dinner. I loved learning about international affairs, music, arts and culture on top of what’s happening right down the street. I also loved feeling connected to the people delivering the information –– and knew I wanted to be a part of that. 

5) What advice do you have for young people considering a career in broadcast news?

Everyone belongs in the newsroom.  Journalism is an industry that’s long lacked inclusivity and poorly reflected the community it’s designed to serve. Don’t be intimidated or turned off by the status quo –– the news needs your voice. Also keep in mind that any skill can be learned. If you’re passionate about telling stories that matter, all of the writing, voicing, editing, etc. will fall into place with time...and a good editor.