Ashley Walling has always loved music—being born and raised in Music City has that effect.
When she was younger, she played the piano and the clarinet, and even now, her radio is on constantly. As what seems like one of the few who have yet to switch to online streaming services, Walling prefers tuning in to local stations where she can get her fill of the twangy tone of the fiddle and the narrative-driven songs of country music.
When she was young, Walling decided she was going to work in the industry. She wasn’t sure what that would look like, exactly, but she was committed to making that dream a reality. When it was time to make a decision, Walling would do what she’d always done and let her love of music and home guide her to a place that felt right.
“Trevecca was that place,” she said. “I wanted a school with a small campus, with small class sizes and a solid Christian atmosphere, and I also wanted to stay close to home. Trevecca was all of those things and more.”
Walling, who graduated in 2019, said the foundation she gained through Trevecca’s journalism program played a key role in making her dream a reality.
Walling currently works as the content coordinator, producing and developing content for the cable network Circle, which launched in January this year. Circle airs original programming featuring the lives of country stars, as well as a weekly broadcast of the Grand Ole Opry. The network is a joint venture of Ryman Hospitality Properties and Gray Television.
“I receive the delivery of all these shows, and I’m in charge of original programming,” Walling explained. “A typical day for me is usually spent working on content and development. Then, I also have to think about these shows from a delivery standpoint. I never thought I would end up in television, but when I was at Trevecca, I wrote about wanting to do the work I’m doing now. To be a part of something like Circle is huge.”
Seth Conley, professor of film and television, said Walling’s path is a great example of what Trevecca’s curriculum seeks to do. Using an interdisciplinary approach and opportunities for real-world experience through internships and on-campus organizations, each program is designed to help a student find exactly what they are called to.
"We design our programs to help students gain skills in a variety of areas while allowing flexibility to craft a schedule that can fit their specific career goals,” Conley said. “Our hope is that our students leave Trevecca ready to tackle a number of specific jobs in the field of communications.”
While at Trevecca, Walling worked as a staff writer for the campus newspaper, The TrevEchoes. She said that work, in addition to her journalism coursework, helped her develop an understanding of what it would take to do well in the news industry.
She’s noticed a lot of similarities working at Circle.
The content development work she does draws on her experience generating story ideas for class assignments, and newspaper deadlines prepared her for the realities of the production side of entertainment.
“I’m always on deadline for something now, and writing for the newspaper really helped me understand how important [deadlines] are,” Walling said. “If we don’t have a show ready at Circle, we’re going to have to scramble to figure out what can go in its place.”
“Thinking back, Trevecca opened a lot of doors for me both on and off campus, and I’m really grateful,” Walling continued. “It gave me what I needed to pursue the work I’ve always dreamed of, and whether I stay in this work or change paths in the future, I know I’ll be prepared.”