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Local nonprofit helps bring together arts and music community


Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 09:01

Hear Nebraska

Photo Courtesy of Hear Nebraska

(Left to right) Intern Lance Heybrock, co-founders Angie and Andrew Norman, Contributor Bridget McQuillan Contributor Matt Masin, Managing Editor Michael Todd and volunteer Jay Fernau outside the Bourbon Theater in Lincoln in 2011 for a dodge ball tournament.

The idea for Hear Nebraska (HN) is rooted in a bar in Lansing, Mich.  Angie Norman, co-founder of the online publication, came up with the idea of Hear Nebraska in 2010 while brainstorming ideas for her husband, Andrew Norman’s, graduate thesis project. In January 2011, the official Hear Nebraska website went live.

“[HN] is mainly a nonprofit music website used to cultivate Nebraska’s music and spread it worldwide, which is the ultimate goal,” managing editor Michael Todd said.

Todd was brought on the HN team after completing an editorial internship in 2011.  He’s been working as the managing editor since Feb. 1, 2012. His is currently the only paid position at HN. Over the last two years, the team behind Hear Nebraska has managed to build a following thus creating a successful nonprofit. The website has tracked over 400 thousand views since its initial launch.

“I think what we’ve accomplished is just an interest in local music that wasn’t necessarily there before,” Todd said. “I think there was always a good community of musicians that respected each other and played in each other’s bands and bought their music, but we’ve kind of expanded that audience a little bit.”

Along with providing an outlet for local musicians to get coverage, HN has also helped journalism students get their first steps in multimedia journalism. The nonprofit offers multimedia and editorial internships in the spring, summer and fall.  Although the internship is unpaid, the experience gained while working for HN is well worth giving up free time. My internship is one of the most frequently asked about pieces of information on my resume during job interviews. I served as an editorial intern during spring 2012.

“What people talk about mostly is the kind of family HN gives people,” Todd said. “You meet a lot of people or you just kind of learn from them and through their work; you kind of have a lot of leeway in creating your internship.”

Bridget McQuillan just wrapped up her multimedia internship late last year. McQuillan is a senior journalism student at Creighton University.

“It really helped me sharpen my photography and video skills,” McQuillan said. “I really learned how to interview better and how to ask more interesting questions, and I obviously learned a ton about the music scene. I mean, I knew it before, but I know so much more now because I joined HN.”

Over the last few years, HN has connected musicians, music lovers, and journalism students through increasing community involvement and general awareness of the arts, culture and music scenes. HN has grown, not only because of its founders’ drive and dedication, but also through a loyal base of contributors. Anyone can contribute to the website, for more information about contributing, visit

Jeremy Buckley, a dedicated contributor and current band manager of Universe Contest, has been with HN since the beginning. He went to UNL with Norman where they both worked at the Daily Nebraskan.  Once Norman returned from Michigan, he shared his idea with Buckley.  

“I was interested in being involved,” Buckley said. “He asked me to help out with content, ideas and recruiting writers and all of that stuff, and I had time to do it and it’s definitely something I supported, so I was on board.”

Since HN’s launch, Buckley has been heavily involved with HN including helping to develop a fundraiser event for the non-profit known as the “Take Cover” series. The first series was two shows, one in Sept. 2011 in Lincoln and the other Oct. 2011 in Omaha.

“The ones we did last time were almost a trial run because we didn’t know what we were doing yet; we just took an idea that someone had done successfully in the past in Lincoln,” Buckley said.

The team didn’t want to do a “run of the mill” fundraising show, so they got permission from the original creator of the idea, Ember Schrag.

“She gave us permission, and we ran with it,” Buckley said. “We did one in Lincoln and one in Omaha, two years ago. For this round, we wanted to have them back-to-back on Friday and Saturday.”

This year’s “Take Cover” shows will be Jan. 18 in Omaha at The Sydney and Jan. 19 in Lincoln at the Zoo Bar. Each performer will play one original song and cover one song by another Nebraska based band they admire. Admission is $5 and both shows are 21 and over.

“It’s really interesting to see who the musicians pick to cover because they are picking songs that they really like or playing songs by performers that they admire or look up to,” Buckley said. “Sometimes they get really crazy and out of the box where some guy that usually plays all country will cover some kind of metal song.”

After the “Take Cover” series, HN will be back working to develop a radio station. Last year, the nonprofit won a grant to fund the project. The HN team hopes to have made progress towards the launch of the station by May, Todd said.

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