Imagine using data to analyze a radio station’s performance. When do listeners typically turn off the station? How long should a DJ set last to keep the largest audience? What conversation topics are most popular among radio listeners? What musical genres do people enjoy the most?

Mikayla Voorn is fascinated by these kinds of metrics and plans to use her data skills to help Syracuse University’s student-run radio station WERW this semester as part of her senior year studies at the School of Information Studies. 

The project combines two of her favorite topics, the entertainment industry and data analysis, which she plans to focus on after graduation. She has already accepted a job as a data analyst at Warner Bros. Discovery in New York starting in July. 

“I have a huge passion for the world of entertainment, and I’m excited to learn even more about how analytics can be applied to the music industry through this project,” said Voorn, who will graduate with a bachelor of science in applied data analytics and a minor in public communications. 

She is partnering with fellow iSchool senior Courtney Gerard to study how the radio station can boost listenership by analyzing when its audience drops, also known as “churn” in the entertainment industry. 

Outside of her academic course load, Voorn is also a member of Kappa Theta Pi Fraternity, Alpha Xi Delta Sorority, and the director of NEXIS Technology Lab. NEXIS is a student-run research lab with teams focusing on artificial intelligence, data science, virtual reality, 3D printing and blockchain. The lab has 115 members and 20 projects running. 

“I’m proud to say that I am the first female director of NEXIS throughout its 10-year history,” Voorn said. “As a researcher in the lab I mostly focus on researching data science topics, but have also led Team AI, 3D Printing, and VR while they have been without leads.”

Hear Mikayla talk about NEXIS and her internship with Warner Bros. Discovery

Voorn says she has always had an interest in numbers and data. After taking a few classes at the iSchool, she realized how much she enjoyed data analytics, especially the data behind viewer and listenership.

During her sophomore year, her career advisor Christopher Perrello encouraged her to reach out to alumni who worked in the entertainment industry. After speaking with alumni, she gained even more of an interest and understanding in how data science and analytics are used in entertainment companies.

“I really love the applications of data science for music prediction, and it would be a dream to work with a music streaming company in the future,” Voorn said. “I’m planning on staying in the entertainment industry for as long as I can. I don’t have my future planned too far out since the world of technology is constantly evolving and I hope to stay at the cusp of these changes.”

If she could offer any advice to younger iSchool students, she would encourage them to keep exploring their passions, network as much as they can and take advantage of every experience they have at the iSchool and beyond. 

“This school has provided me with more than I could’ve imagined,” Voon said. “I feel adequately prepared for my future career, and I believe Syracuse has made me a very well-rounded young professional.”