Barry McNamara  |  Published February 22, 2023

Reading, Writing ... and Radio

Monmouth College’s Jan Abel wins one of five national radio scholarships.

IN HER HAPPY PLACE: Jan Abel aspires to have her own radio show after she graduates from Monmouth... IN HER HAPPY PLACE: Jan Abel aspires to have her own radio show after she graduates from Monmouth. The junior recently received one of five national radio scholarships.MONMOUTH, Ill. – When it comes to her academics, Monmouth College junior Jan Abel has mastered the three R’s. The English and public relations double major from Wataga, Illinois, excels in reading, writing … and radio.

Abel was recently named one of five national Next Step Radio Scholars for 2023. The program was launched a year ago to help college students who aspire to have a career in radio.

“I felt like it was a confirmation,” said Abel of her national scholarship. “I belong here.”

Last fall, Abel was also in the news as one of three Monmouth students who completed a project that involved writing 50,000 words toward a novel in one month.


Getting her foot in the door

Abel’s first semester at Monmouth was in fall 2020, when the phrase “uncertain times” was widely in use due to the pandemic. It also described her status in what was, at the time, a new world for her.

“Fun fact: I didn’t start in radio until I got to college,” she said. “Coming into college, I needed to find a job. I signed up for a radio workshop, and (college station WPFS-FM adviser) Chris Goble could not get rid of me.”

She’s steadily risen from a radio newbie to social media director and, this year, to station manager.

“Radio is very much a guy’s job. I was the only girl for a semester, maybe a whole year. Then I became the only girl on the executive board. I’ve pushed myself to be where I am. I belong.” Jan Abel


“Radio is very much a guy’s job,” said Abel. “I was the only girl for a semester, maybe a whole year. Then I became the only girl on the executive board. I’ve pushed myself to be where I am. I belong.”


More than able

A member of the College’s communication studies faculty, Goble certainly agrees that Abel belongs.

“I see a future leader in the industry,” he wrote in his scholarship recommendation letter. “Her drive, passion, creativity, good humor and great sense of the responsibility professionals should have would make her a great addition to any organization in the industry.”

Abel has also interned for Galesburg radio station WAAG-FM 94.9, known locally as FM 95. Some of her tasks with the country music station included remote broadcasts from the Taste of Galesburg and the community’s Fourth of July celebration.

“Chris helped me find the scholarship, which is given out by the same people who put on College Radio Day,” said Abel, who worked last fall on the College’s observance of the special day. “He told me, ‘I’ll sign off for you.’ I finished the application right around finals last semester, and I found out I’d won on the Saturday before they made their announcement.”


What’s ahead

In addition to using the scholarship money for essentials such as groceries and gas, Abel also plans to enhance the work she’s doing with audio books, for which she’s completing an independent study.

“I’m going to buy a new microphone for myself,” she said.

“Even though I’m a night owl by personality, I would really love to have my own morning show. I love waking up with people, and that’s how I first got interested in radio, listening to the Galesburg station as I was getting ready for school.” Jan Abel


Abel hopes she’ll be in front of a microphone full-time after she graduates from college.

“Even though I’m a night owl by personality, I would really love to have my own morning show,” she said. “I love waking up with people, and that’s how I first got interested in radio, listening to the Galesburg station as I was getting ready for school.”

If Abel could play the music of her choice, she’d lean toward “modern rock or grunge rock.” She’d also pick an area such as Galesburg or Monmouth.

“I think I’d like to stick with small towns versus big cities and corporate radio,” she said.

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