Salve Success: Sara Birse ’20 traded Seahawk Radio for SiriusXM
Sara Birse ’20, who got her degree in English communications with minors in French and marketing, knew Salve Regina was the school for her once she stepped onto the gravel at Ochre Court. Birse now works as the music programming coordinator for SiriusXM in Nashville, Tennessee.
From the garden floor of Gerety Hall to the broadcasting studio at SiriusXM, Birse attributes her dream career to the time and experiences she had while at Salve Regina.
Discovering a passion for radio
During her time at Salve Regina, Birse was heavily involved with Seahawk Radio, Salve Regina’s student run radio station. Birse was a part of Seahawk Radio ever since her first year, and she even became the vice president her sophomore year and held that title until graduation in 2020. During her time with Seahawk Radio, Birse was allowed to dive into a passion she didn’t know she had.
“It was like a playground for me to discover all the different aspects of radio and how to program a channel,” said Birse. “I realized that I loved it.”
Birse was initially nervous working on Seahawk Radio. During her first night on air, Birse recalls not turning the microphone on for two hours. But working with Seahawk Radio provided her with a platform to break out of her comfort zone.
“I was so scared to even turn on the mic, but I got more and more comfortable. After that, I knew I wanted to work in radio,” she described.
From Seahawk Radio to SiriusXM
Graduating at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the road to SiriusXM was not an easy one. With no events being held to broadcast, jobs for Birse began to dwindle. This inspired her to enter into a master’s program at Southern New Hampshire University, where she graduated with an MBA in music business. During her master’s program, she worked with SiriusXM as a music programming intern.
After interning for SiriusXM in the spring of 2022, Birse landed a job as the music programming coordinator at their office in Nashville, Tennessee. She finds working for SiriusXM to be an outlet for creativity.
“You always have to be very innovative and creative in how you want to program your channels,” said Birse. “Keeping up to date on new music, or if there’s a song that you think is going to be a good fit for the channel — they want to hear it.”
SiriusXM emphasizes innovation, finds Birse. The company lifts the voices of their employees and encourages them to test out new directions.
At the studio, Birse works on the country channels, the Jimmy Buffett Channel and their Disney Channel. She especially enjoys working for the Disney Channel, where she gets to share her passion of radio with children across the state.
Birse currently works on a Disney Channel segment entitled Be Our Guest, where children send in an audio where they pick their four favorite Disney songs. The children get to be DJ’s on the show.
“I email them, and these kids get to hear themselves on air, and they’re so excited,” said Birse. “It is very rewarding. I get to do that every week, and I just love it.”
Thank you, Salve English department
Birse looks back on her time at Salve Regina fondly, but she holds a special place in her heart for the Department of English, Communications and Media. Throughout her four years at Salve Regina, she recalled the thoughtful professors that aided in her journey to SiriusXM: Dr. D. Matthew Ramsey, professor and chair of the department; Dr. Donna Harrington-Lueker, professor and commonly referred to as D.H.L. by students; and Dr. Madeleine Esch, associate professor.
“Dr. Ramsey, D.H.L., Dr. Esch, all of them just helped me so much along the way,” said Birse.
Birse took the course ENG-273 Multimedia Storytelling with Dr. Harrington-Lueker, a course that teaches a variety of tools to gather and edit audio and video as part of skillful storytelling and reporting. This course provided Birse with the skills needed for a career after Salve Regina.
“It taught all of these skills that I now use every day — like how to find a narrative and tell a story,” she said.
Salve Regina also taught Birse the importance of research and how to think critically and analytically, which are tools needed in her line of work.
“They really value those skills at SiriusXM when it comes to researching new music and new artists,” she said.“It’s hard to acquire those skills, but Salve Regina really prepares you for that.”
All in all, Birse cherishes her time at Salve Regina and is grateful for the experiences and lessons that led her to SiriusXM.
Article written by student writer Catherine Dolan ’23
Salve Success is a series of student success stories periodically featured on SALVEtoday. Check out the tag Salve Success for more stories.