Stefanie Mavronis ‘12, political science and media and communication studies, has been committed to social justice for a long time now, and eventually plans to pursue graduate study in public policy. But for now, she’s doing that work in a somewhat unconventional and unexpected place: a Baltimore radio station. Over the past three years, she’s used her job as a producer on WEAA-FM’s Marc Steiner Show to forge valuable relationships within the city that she loves and tell award-winning stories about the people who live there.
This past June, she and her co-producer Mark Gunnery (pictured on the right) received awards from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcaster’s Association for two pieces they created for the Steiner Show. Both are related to Baltimore’s reaction to the August 2014 killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by white police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri.
Perhaps due to the subject matter, and even more so the timing (the award came just over a month after riots erupted in Baltimore over the police-custody death of Freddie Gray), the accomplishment felt “bittersweet” to Mavronis. Nonetheless, she says, “we have a great responsibility to cover these stories responsibly, and to [bring underrepresented voices] to the table.”
Mavronis was a Steiner Show intern as an undergrad, and was hired as a full-time producer after graduation. “I felt well-prepared [for the job] coming out of UMBC,” she says, both because of her heavy involvement on campus and her commitment to social justice work.
One of the many groups she was a part of at UMBC – besides (seb), the Honors College, and the Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars Program, to name a few – was the Solidarity Coalition, a student organization that pushed to improve working conditions for campus employees. In 2010, the group worked with the university administration to create a worker-centered buying contract for UMBC-branded apparel: in other words, no more sweatshops.
“I learned so much…being involved so heavily,” she says. “I think [that] has helped me a lot [with] being able to jump right in.” She specifically credits her job at commonvision and her old boss, Laura Schraven, with giving her the project management skills that have been invaluable to her as a radio producer. She remains connected to the campus as an adjunct lecturer in the media and communication studies department, teaching the Media Literacy Lab course that’s now a requirement for all MCS majors.
For now, though, she is committed to amplifying Baltimore’s unheard voices over the airwaves.
Mavronis says she knew she was going to learn a lot about Baltimore, as the show frequently features key players – officials, activists, organizers – in the community. She and Gunnery recently produced a series of short video documentaries on the Baltimore Uprising, and she had the chance to be part of some “interesting conversations.”
“[Baltimore] will always be a part of my heart,” she says.
“[It’s] my home…and the city I care about a lot.”
– Julia Celtnieks ’13