Five young professionals are starting a new chapter at Colorado Public Radio as the organization’s fellowship program continues to flourish. This summer, CPR welcomed two new fellows and also hired three former fellows into regular, full-time positions. 

Former fellows Sam Brasch, Michael Sakas and Rebekah Romberg joined CPR’s programming team in full-time positions this July. Brasch and Sakas will continue their work in the newsroom as general assignment reporters / producers, while Romberg focuses on music and production for CPR’s content team.

2015-2016 fellowship recipients Rebekah Romberg, Sam Brasch and Michael Sakas.

“When we launched the fellowship program, CPR was interested in finding ways to support the future of storytelling, especially here in Colorado,” says Senior Vice President of Programming Sean Nethery. “By providing a space for young journalists and content creators to tell the story of Colorado, the program is helping to secure a bright future for public radio in our state.” 

Stories CPR Fellows Contributed To:

These stories are a testament to the unique contributions Colorado Public Radio fellows are making, and demonstrate how the program is strengthening the legacy of quality, in-depth storytelling Colorado Public Radio is known for. 

“The fellowship program has had a simple, but powerful impact,” says Romberg. “In other internships, I had to be very proactive to get something out of the experience. What a difference it makes to have a program with structured opportunities to learn throughout the year, along with so many supportive mentors to offer guidance.”

As these former fellows settle into their new positions, CPR is welcoming Xandra McMahon and Rachel Ramberg as the recipients of this year’s fellowships.

Meet the incoming fellows: Xandra McMahon and Rachel Ramberg

​Colorado Public Radio worked with the University of Colorado, Boulder to award this year’s fellowships to recent graduates. McMahon will be working in the newsroom, while Ramberg will be laying new ground as CPR’s first videography / photography fellow. 

Xandra McMahon.

Originally from Colorado Springs, McMahon graduated from CU this past spring where she studied journalism and honed her craft working for the university’s digital news site, CU Independent, overseeing a staff of 50 student editors, reporters and contributors. As a student, McMahon edited podcasts, and shot, directed and wrote content for CU's film review show, Movie Buffs.  She also completed an internship at KUSA 9News where she wrote digital stories and helped direct newscasts. 

In addition to being awarded Colorado Public Radio’s fellowship, McMahon is also the recipient of a Regional Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for her work on the podcast episode "CU Taboo: Resurrection Church," which investigated a rumored cult in Boulder.

Rachel Ramberg.

Also a recent CU graduate, Ramberg earned her degree in journalism with a concentration in broadcast production. She studied film and was part of the school’s technology, arts and media program where she gained valuable experience in visual storytelling. Among her achievements, Ramberg co-produced an episode for the visual podcast, “CU Science Update,” offering an in-depth look at gluten-free culture and trends, which was nominated for the 2015 Student Achievement Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Heartland Chapter. 

While both McMahon and Ramberg were drawn to CPR’s commitment to inform and enlighten Coloradans, they each bring a different perspective on the value that work provides. 

“Colorado Public Radio’s focus on community and creating connections between people really inspires me,” said Ramberg. “I’m striving to make those same connections in the photos and videos I’m producing and feel deeply committed to that mission, so this opportunity is a great fit for me.” 

For McMahon, the appeal was more about CPR’s quality standards. “The news values that CPR embodies were really important to me,” she says. “In studying journalism, I saw how wrong it can go. It’s refreshing to see CPR’s commitment to getting journalism right, and I’m inspired to be working side by side with journalists who share a similar ethical standard.”

About the program

Colorado Public Radio’s Fellowship Program offers recent college graduates paid opportunities to learn while working. It’s designed to develop the skills and expertise of the next generation of public radio hosts, producers and journalists, providing valuable experience while creating a continual pipeline of fresh talent behind CPR’s programming.

Since its inception in 2015, the program has supported six paid, full-time fellowships. These year-long positions are made possible by the generous support of CPR members, including leadership partners who invest $10,000 or more to support Colorado Public Radio programs and initiatives.

“What’s tremendous about this program is that we have the financial security to be able to offer these paid fellowships year after year, and to retain these talented individuals in full-time positions,” says Nethery. “It’s a testament to the powerful investment Coloradans continue to make in Colorado Public Radio, and speaks to the strength and support of our community.”