My name is Akiem Bailum, a student journalist and communications/journalism major attending Georgia State University in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. My journey that has brought me here has been long, enjoyable, and sometimes tiring.
I was born on February 25, 1990 in Islip, New York. I lived in Long Island for six years and attended Coram Elementary School in my Kindergarten year. Unfortunately, the Coram area was becoming extremely dangerous and shrouded in drugs, so my family moved south.
South Carolina that is.
I spent my next four years in Charleston, South Carolina where I attended three elementary schools. My family was always moving so the idea that I would be able to spend at least three years in middle school was futile. I attended Murray-LaSaine Elementary School in the first grade, Stono Park Elementary School in the second grade, and Newington Elementary School in the third and fourth grades. Newington is located in Summerville—a suburb of Charleston.
Throughout that time, I excelled in the classroom and won a multitude of achievement awards, including multiple Principal’s Honor Roll Awards and participated in the Kiwanis Kid’s Club.
In 2000, I moved again, this time to Houston, Texas—where I began to make more friends. In the fifth grade, while attending Moore Elementary School in Cypress, Texas (a Houston suburb), I won the school spelling bee and represented the school in the regional competition. The winner of that competition would have had the opportunity to go to Washington, DC to compete in the national spelling bee.
Unfortunately, I did not win.
After “graduating” from elementary school, I moved on to junior high school—Hamilton Middle School to be exact which was not far from Moore Elementary. I was able to spend all three of my middle school years at Hamilton, which included my first dibblings and dabblings into different student clubs.
At this time, I thought that I would want to eventually work in the stock market because I was becoming interested in it more and more. In fact, mornings I would watch Bloomberg Television to see whose stock was up and down on the Dow, Nasdaq, and S&P.
I was doing this as a sixth grader. My nerdiness was planted early.
I met many friends in middle school and was extremely popular. It was one of the best times of my life looking back on it, even though I wish I did more with friends. I continued to win certificates and awards for my scholastic work, and as was the same for most middle schoolers, was my first encounter with being a love interest of some of my female peers.
I was only a middle schooler when September 11th happened. A friend of mine had heard about what happened before I did, and told me about something that happened involving planes crashing into the World Trade Center. After our lunch period, our teachers had called us into separate rooms so they could inform us on the tragic events that occurred in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania. The event traumatized me and kept me from attending school for the rest of the week since September 11th 2001 was a Tuesday. I was afraid that they’d attack any part of the country next—or that they would attack again in general.
After moving from middle school, I went to high school—initially at Cy-Creek High School in 2004. High school irritated me because it seemed as though that everyone who were friends in middle school all of a sudden began to grow apart in high school and split off into their little different factions (i.e., “jocks”, “nerds”, “preps”, “cheerleaders”, etc.). It was the first sign that high school was nothing like the real world, because while you may try to separate yourself from people who are different from you in high school, you can’t do that on your job or in the real world.
Sadly, I had to say goodbye to my friends who I have known and seen since 2000 in 2005 when I moved away from the area and to a different part of Harris County. I attended Klein High School in Spring, Texas where I began to explore the possibility of me becoming a computer technician. I attended computer classes in Klein High School and the idea of working with computer programs, particularly Microsoft Office programs, began to be something that became more interesting to me.
This continued as my family moved again—this time in 2006 from Texas to Georgia. The only reason I was wary of this was because I did not know if I would still be able to complete high school in a timely manner with all of the moving. We settled in a suburb of Atlanta called Douglasville to the west of Downtown Atlanta—a city that was approximately a half hour away from the Georgia/Alabama border. It was here where I attended Alexander High School.
It was also during this period after moving to Georgia that I began to study more and more aspects of the radio industry. A format change involving local radio stations that resulted in one of the stations looping a message redirecting listeners to the other station fascinated me—and urged me to delve more into the inner workings of the radio business. The stations in question in Atlanta were 105.3 The Buzz moving to 96.1 where heritage radio station 96Rock was and became “Project 9-6-1” which has since flipped to CHR “Power 96.1”.
During my two years at Alexander High, my interest began to shift from computers to working in the police force. I began to grow interested in the conducting of investigations and how evidence is gathered to lead police to criminals. Such is an arduous task. Eventually, toward that same time, I began to put more emphasis on wanting to learn about finance and money. This is why I began to consider accounting as a career as I began to consider my life after high school.
I continued to try to interact with people even though it was difficult given the workload of high school. My main priority at this time was to get out of high school which is why I never put a lot of emphasis on having a girlfriend. I also was never the “party” type of person.
One of the reasons why money was so fascinating to me at this time was because since everything on this planet runs and operates because of money, I believed that being smart in business in finance would lead me to learning the central issues of why so many international and even interpersonal conflicts happen.
I do regret not attending my senior prom even though everyone wanted me to go and even my family wanted me to go. I naively viewed it as a complete waste of time at the time.
I graduated high school in May of 2008. I said goodbye to my friends in high school but still try to maintain contact with them to this day. Another accomplishment I achieved in my final two years of high school was that I finished in the top 10% of both my junior and senior classes.
Afterwards, I tested the job market and hoped to become a bank teller, but I didn’t possess any pertinent experience. In addition, the job market for high school grads was treacherous anyway given the recession.
Ironically, it was also during this time where I began planting the seeds for myself pursuing a journalism major. To keep me busy, I started a YouTube account where I gave my thoughts on sports and radio happenings. These were my two biggest passions at the time (and still are outside of journalism) so I figured it would make the most sense to do informative and entertaining videos on topics that I could talk a lot about (and sound coherently intelligent when I did them).
I was immediately contacted by two urban radio websites about them wanting me to blog and do videos for them, but I never replied to their offers for a while.
In addition, I figured it would be beneficial for me to be multi-faceted, so I decided to pursue writing in addition to doing videos. Those videos I am glad I did because it allowed me to get comfortable in front of a camera.
My blogs apparently impressed because Josh Dhani, a young sports blogger from Indianapolis wanted me to write for his site, Footbasket.com. For a brief period of time, it was partnered with Yardbarker and Fox Sports. I eventually left them to blog for Tim Kelly’s currently defunct site, TheRealSportsTalk.com. He is also an up-and-coming sports writer and is based in Philadelphia. Both are very good friends of mine.
Educationally, I had stalled. While everyone else had gone on to pursue college immediately after they graduated from high school, I tried to find a job. But I later became more career-oriented and went back to college in 2010.
I started my college life in 2010 at West Georgia Technical College as an accounting major before in 2011, a friend of mine who was majoring in journalism had influenced me to pursue journalism as a major. The tech school didn’t have a journalism program, let alone a newspaper or radio station, so I decided to transfer from there to a school that did.
Airchecker.ca—a radio news site based in Canada has even contacted me and I am a proud member of that site as I am just as passionate about Canadian radio as I am about American radio.
The highlight of working for The Real Sports Talk was in the summer of 2012 when I provided Olympic updates and commentary as the Olympics in London were taking place. I consider it a highlight of my sportswriting and journalism career up to this point. I hope to cover an Olympics on site for the two weeks of the event in the future.
On the radio side of things, the sites in question were Urban Radio Nation and Radio-Facts.com. In 2012, Urban Radio Nation allowed me to blog and do videos for their website before I was approached by Kevin Ross of Radio-Facts about what seemed like a very good offer. Unfortunately, my columns were not posted and readership was low since I was a newbie radio writer, so I left to pursue other opportunities.
Those opportunities included Georgia State University.
Attending GSU really allowed me to sharpen my skills in all possible facets of journalism. In 2012 in my first semester at the university, I applied to be a sports writer at The Signal, the student paper of GSU. I applied to their sports section.
In 2013, an Advanced Media Writing class I was in under the tutelage of Dr. Richard Welch allowed us to have a chance to cover international business stories pertaining to the city of Atlanta and have our content published to a website called Global Atlanta. My main beat was covering Delta Air Lines and my section of the website was called Airport City. That same year, Kelly started a new sports website—Section 215.com. The website was partnered with Fansided and SI.com. He reached out to me to see if I wanted to write for the new sports site since he liked my work on TheRealSportsTalk.com. I agreed.
In 2013, I even since reached out to Urban Radio Nation to ask if I could write for them again, but they said that my content was not suitable for their site since their site targets common radio listeners, not radio experts. The analysis I was giving pertained to not only radio, but also ratings, format changes, markets, PPM, etc.
In 2014, I began working as a correspondent for Panther Report, the flagship news program for GSTV, the television station at Georgia State. I consider everyone at both The Signal and GSTV dear friends. Also, a class I was in under the tutelage of Dr. Andree Grogan, who once worked at CNN, allowed me to gain a greater experience as to what it is like to be behind the camera as well as in front of the camera. I provided news packages, shot video, edited, conducted interviews, and gathered b-roll footage.
I consider Dr. Grogan and her Digital Publishing and Production Class a positive for my journalism aspirations because it gave me more hands-on experience with working with a camera, tripod, and microphone than one can get by simply taking notes inside a classroom. This gave me the confidence to know that not only can I report and give interviews, but also edit footage into coherent and presentable news packages.
At this point, I have acquired a wide array of skills and talents that professionals say are vital to anyone pursuing a career in journalism. I am thankful for those attributes that I now possess and the people that I have met along the way. After all, no one makes it alone.
When I am not hard at work on stories, I am likely talking with family and friends, doing random things with my laptop computer, reading up on radio stories, or hanging out with friends. I try to keep up with as many friends as possible and fully understand that they may not always be available as they are very busy as young adults—just like me.