September 24th, 2014 15:45 EST
A Profile of Perfection: Judyth Piazza and The SOP News Network
On a scorching summer day in Vero Beach, Florida, Judyth Piazza shuffles down the street with grocery bags in her arms. It`s a good day for an interview, she thinks, as she heads into her studio. Piazza is the founder of The Student Operated Press, a cutting edge news organization that provides novice writers, student journalists, amateur broadcasters and unpublished authors the opportunity to showcase their talents while practicing ethical journalism and broadcasting in a professional environment online.
The SOP, as it is affectionately called, gathers writers, mentors and broadcasters from all over the world who work together to foster operational and business models needed in the 21st Century. Piazza also hosts her own radio program, The American Perspective which is a ground breaking radio program that is full of inspiration and information. It`s intended to help people succeed in life.
Each week the American Perspective features celebrity guests from around the nation. With her soothing voice, she has the ability to get anyone to talk, and she interviews a wide variety of people on the show, big and small.
How did she break into the super competitive online journalism business? "I used to write for another online publication, thecollegepress.com where I met college student, Daren Copely. Daren`s vision was very similar to my vision and as I helped him with his paper it motivated me to start my own. Not only was I writing for The college press while I was in college in my mid 30`s, I was writing for The Calder Gazette and that is where I met Bruce Calder who noticed something in me that no one else did, Bruce helped me to develop my craft as well as teach me the ins and outs of online news and Internet technology. We worked well together so I asked him to build The SOP for me and work with me as my mentor."
With a zero budget Piazza had to work odd jobs as well as use some of her student loans to get The SOP off the ground and make her dream a reality. College kids nowadays could definitely learn a thing or two from her ambition.
Piazza`s dedication to journalism has been tempered by the worst storms. Whenever there is a hurricane raging through Florida, she stands by her post to report storm and traffic updates. "Hurricane Girl" is a popular nickname for this dazzling diva on the Treasure Coast.
With talent like this, she could probably host her own TV show. "Well, I did TV for a bit...I was a news anchor for the local TV station, WWCI TV 10. It wasn`t a big station but I got a lot of face time whereas the news looped throughout the day."
Stations like Fox and MSNBC compete for attention by presenting strong opinions and seeming like they have an agenda. Piazza does not do that with her radio show. She will interview anybody, whether they`re liberal or conservative, famous or not, because she feels that everyone has a story to tell and everyone deserves a voice. When she interviews someone she simply asks them what they are all about and what they`re doing with their lives. No loaded questions from her. What does she think of the extremely biased news stations? "Well, what people have to understand is that politics plays a huge role in a show as well as a network`s agenda. If the advertisers for a station are more liberal minded, then they are going to make sure that the station presents more liberal minded points of view and programming. The same thing happens with more conservative minded stations."
What was her first interview? "My first interview ever was with Robin Meade. She`s is the host of CNN`s Robin and Company, which airs Monday thru Friday 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and I was thrilled because she gave me a chance when I wasn`t sure if anyone would. In the beginning I tried interviewing as many journalists as I could."
What have been some of her best interviews? "I interviewed Yolanda King, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.`s daughter, shortly before she died. I was one of the last people to interview her. Maya Angelou was another great interview. I`m actually compiling my best interviews into a book right now. It has about 20 of the top interviews that I`ve conducted over the years. I think we have done over 5,000 by now."
What does she think about people not reading books as much nowadays? "I think reading definitely is important, and people not doing it as much shows that we`re becoming a very shallow society."
Who does she look up to the most? "I really like Oprah because she started her career at an AM radio station and made it big. In fact, I`ve been called the Italian American Oprah."
Who are her mentors? "A lot of my mentors happen to be people I work with on a regular basis. One of them is Djelloul Marbrook. We like to call him Del. He`s been in the journalism world for over 50 years and the author of several books. Marbrook is also the recipient of the 2007 Kent State University`s Stan and Tom Wick First Book Prize in poetry."
Any other mentors? "Robert Paul Reyes is another rock that I lean on. He`s my right hand man and main editor at the SOP. He has a special ability to draw in readers like I`ve never seen before in any other writer. He`s a great mentor when it comes to finding an audience. Robert`s writing has been mentioned in 11 books over the last several years."
Who else has been helpful over the years? "Hip-hop record labels like Platinum Ice Records and numerous Hip-hop pioneers such as AB Money, Grand Master Herc, Frank Lucas, Jr., and the P-Funk All Stars were very supportive. They`re so ambitious and full of entrepreneurial minds. When I was trying to get everything started, they supported me the most by allowing me to interview them and play their music on my program and I`m very thankful for their help!"
Is there any bias against her because she is a female journalist? "There isn`t really any bias against me, but I do get hate mail from time to time because I`m an editor for a lot of publications. Film reviews tend to draw in hate mail because everyone has a different opinion when it comes to movie reviews, politics, religion and the weather."
Does she have any regrets as a journalist? "Not really, I mean the only regrets I have are that my resources are limited. It is hard for me to compete with large publications with unlimited resources but we hold our own and we are ranked in the top 52,000 most popular websites worldwide and the top 10,000 in the US. There are so many people who work with me that I never have a chance to meet in person. I`d love to visit them all one day. A lot people that got their start at The SOP have moved on to some fabulous network jobs at some very well known programs and popular networks and I`m proud of all of them. It makes me feel good."
Judyth Piazza will continue to introduce young people and old alike to the field of journalism and online media and broadcasting. She can be heard regularly on The American Perspective radio show, which can be found at www.thesop.org and as part of The SOP Radio Network.
For More Information about Judyth Piazza: www.thesop.org