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Mercer Helps Alum Toni Campbell Establish New Career in Radio Broadcasting

4/16/12


For Trenton resident Toni Campbell, ’03 (A.A.S., Radio), earning her degree at Mercer County Community College opened the door to an entirely new avenue for her creative writing skills: a career in television and radio.  Currently the creative services director at Nassau Broadcasting in Princeton, she writes advertising copy and performs voiceover work for 94.5 FM WPST, one of the areas’s top contemporary radio stations.

A graduate of Toms River High School South, Campbell started college by studying voice and piano at Rider University and Westminster Choir College.  Then she left school to get married and didn’t consider returning to the classroom until she was working in the benefits department at McGraw-Hill.

Toni Campbell ’03 (A.A.S., Radio), right, sits with Ryan Sitoy, production director, left, in a recording studio while she rehearses a voiceover commercial for 94.5 FM WPST.

A proponent of workforce training, McGraw-Hill contracted with the Mercer Institute of Management & Technology Training (formerly the Center for Training and Development) to offer on-site classes to Campbell and her co-workers.

“I had taken a detour in life, but I was gradually finding my way back towards earning a college degree,” she said.  After taking some business classes she soon realized that career path wasn’t going to satisfy her creative side.  While continuing to work in the corporate world as the human resources administrator at Carter-Wallace, she switched to studying communications at Mercer.  When Carter-Wallace announced it was closing in 2002, she decided it was time to pursue her education at Mercer full time.

Toni Campbell stands in front of Nassau Broadcasting's "Wall of Fame," with guitars from famous musicians like Lenny Kravitz.

As she studied, Campbell found herself more and more intrigued by her radio classes, and decided that would be her focus.  “I studied at Mercer through every avenue they offer, including night classes, online classes, CLEP exams, TV classes, and going full time during the day,” Campbell said.  “I probably saw my professor, Mitch Canter, more than I saw my family during that time,” she laughed.  Canter is Mercer’s coordinator for the Communication and Radio programs.

According to Campbell, Communications Professor Donna Munde suggested that she specialize in writing for radio.  “It was her comment that I had a flair for writing and should consider the creative end of things in radio that encouraged me to look at copywriting as a possible career choice,” she said.

With Canter’s help, Campbell landed an internship in the Creative Department at Nassau Broadcasting in Princeton.  “I was 41 years old at the time.  I would joke that I was the oldest intern to ever work for them,” she said.

Even as an intern, Campbell was proving herself as a valuable employee at the station.  When the position of copywriter became available, she was offered the job.  She credits her professors and the relevancy of her MCCC classes in preparing her.

“I really appreciated the atmosphere at Mercer,” said Campbell, recalling how Mercer’s flexible scheduling enabled her to work at the station and complete her degree.  “I owe my instructors at Mercer a huge portion of the credit for where I am now.” 

Campbell found other ways to get experience at Mercer, including serving as a DJ and promotions manager for WMCC, the student radio station, and acting in productions at Kelsey Theatre, where she was able to enhance her soon-to-be “radio voice.”

After graduating with highest honors, Campbell soon found herself back on campus – this time in the role of instructor.  Canter approached her to teach an introductory radio class, as well as a class on writing for radio and television, which she taught for five years.

Campbell said her students appreciated that she was actually working in the field and could give them knowledge they wouldn’t learn in a textbook.  She even brought in her own writing assignments to use as real world examples.

Three years into her job as a copywriter, Nassau Broadcasting’s Princeton office downsized from five stations to one, 94.5 WPST.  Campbell was promoted to creative services director, a position she has now held for five years.  Along with her responsibilities at the station, she does independent voiceover work for a television commercial company, Planet Charley.

She has also taken a more active role in her church, becoming the director of its community outreach group. While her busy schedule has forced her to take a break from teaching, she still keeps in touch with Canter to help connect Mercer students with internships at WPST.

She has also passed the community college torch along to her children.  “When it came time for my own kids to go to college, it was a no-brainer,” she said.  Her daughter, Jackie, now 26, and son, Kenneth, now 22, both earned their associate degrees at Mercer and found employment in their fields of study, visual arts and advertising design, respectively. 

Going forward, Campbell hopes to take on the role of student once again to earn her bachelor’s degree in Communications from Rider University.  Currently she is writing an online blog entitled, “Lakeside Lessons,” and is also working on a memoir, which focuses on how she changed her life when she decided to go back to school and pursue her passion.

Update: Campbell was presented with the 2012 Mercer County Woman of Achievement Award by Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes and the County’s Commission on the Status of Women at the commission’s annual reception on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012. This award was established to honor women who are Mercer County residents and 18 years old or older who volunteer time to make the County a better place to live, raise a family and work. Campbell was chosen for her volunteer work at the Central Baptist Church in Ewing. More on this award can be found here.

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