Student Law Station Hits the Net
by Mahsa Khalilifar
school — explains. "I looked and saw that no other law school had a radio station devoted to law. I wanted to show how radio can connect to everyone; I saw it as a way to branch out."
While Robinson, a Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center student, toyed with some ideas by making a mock station through Internet server Live365, his girlfriend, Sara Graditor, turned the idea into a potential marketing brainchild that would be not only informative but also fun for students to listen to.
"Chad had the original idea. He'd always been broadcasting in the past, so he always had the idea," Graditor says. "We talked about it, so we [thought], 'Let's play it for the school and see what they think.'"
They did just that, and the law school, located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, took an interest in the station that the couple came up with, as did the school's students. Robinson, who had graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in broadcast journalism, had a background in media, so his knowledge naturally helped him create a program to which students could relate. Graditor, now 26, had graduated from the University of Central Florida with an undergraduate degree in business with an emphasis in marketing, so she had the skill set to help the business side of the station flourish.
The next step was approaching the dean of the law school about the launch of the radio station; it would be the first one ever run for law students by law students.
"I said, 'If you're going to do this, you've got to come at me with a business plan,'" Dean and Professor of Law Joseph Harbaugh says. "They came with a plan for the future. I asked them to show me how this is going to continue as a student-operated [program]."
Harbaugh, who has been the dean of the school for 13 years, says that he did meet with some hesitation from his senior administrative team, but he eventually convinced them that it would be a good thing for the school.
"I was intrigued from the very moment they mentioned it," he adds. "I knew [the program] would foster additional communication within the law school."
The new radio station program, named WLAW, was launched online in February 2007 with a staff of seven, all of whom are now third-year law students.
"Our staff this year, none of them had been in radio ever. I'm the only one that spoke into a radio before," Robinson says. "This staff has taken to radio immediately."
Graditor agrees and says they are excited about how the radio station has developed.
"It was something that grew a lot faster than we were expecting," Graditor says of the launch. "It's our own little business."
By the time a law room was turned into the radio station's headquarters, a staff had been hired and was ready to work. The student-run radio station is financially assisted by the dean's office, and the student staff was selected by both Graditor and Robinson, who were deemed "research assistants" to the dean.
"The dean was worried on how to keep [the program] going. After he approved it, he said, 'Here's the budget, and everybody's going to be employees,'" Graditor explains. "Organizations come and go, but when it's a volunteer-based thing, it wears off. When you're an employee, it's more motivation based."
The radio station hosts various programs that focus on different issues in and outside of the law industry. Everything from politics to sports to community information is covered. Professionals in the law community, such as judges and noted lawyers, are interviewed.
"We [also] inform people about what's going on in the law school," Graditor adds.
The station is devoted to law students who need an outlet. It also addresses pressing issues within the world in general.
"I think it's a great pastime. Law school is so stressful, and you're always doing work...you don't really have a chance to breathe," Graditor says. "[Law school] is such a mental process, so it takes the pressure off. It's educational at the same time."
The station even ran a program called Radio Idol in the fall. It started out as a fun way to hire new employees for next year, as the staff on air now will be graduating soon, and it ended up being a big hit. Students tried out on air for five minutes and attempted to host an on-air show.
"We had our highest ratings during that time. We [had] three times as many people listening," Graditor says. "During Radio Idol, the contestants were saying how fun it was. It will end up being a tradition. The new batch of people are second years, and they are excited to be on air [next year]."
However, Graditor says that she and Robinson will keep tabs on the station even after they graduate.
"We put so much time and effort into this; this is like our baby," she says. "Chad and I will always be around. We're not leaving Florida. We are going to check in on the station. We aren't going to let anything happen to it."
Graditor has already been offered a job with a firm in Fort Lauderdale. Robinson hopes his current law clerk position with a firm will lead to an associate promotion once he graduates, while he continues to do radio work on the side.
"There is a huge learning curve, and right now we are on the peak of the curve," Robinson says about the radio station's progress. "We are almost there to knowing where we are going — it has endless potential."
You can access WLAW for free by visiting NSU Law's homepage at www.nsulaw.nova.edu and clicking on "WLAW Radio."