over the landscape of Utah news talk radio, about 90% of what you'll
find is politically polarized with very little interview. Its not
exactly what you would call "standard", but it is the way
we've come to know how those shows are produced. A host picks a topic
and a side and rants for hours. Very few have made the effort to turn
that time into an open forum for guests and more importantly, their
audience, to join in a discussion without being told "how wrong
they are." Luckily for us that remaining 10% does a far better
job than the rest, like the show we're looking into
--- RadioActive (Weeknights at 6PM on KRCL) has been taking a provocative and engaging
look at both community and national issues for nearly eight years
now. Serving as half the news department for KRCL, the hour-long
program with a daily variety of rotating hosts and topics covers
every subject in the spectrum from political affairs and social
standards to media matters and even local entertainment, all while
maintaining the heart of the program as an interview and call-in
show. I got the opportunity to chat with the Executive Producer of
the show, Troy Williams, as well as all seven hosts about the show
and the roles they play in keeping the program informative. Plus their
thoughts on local broadcasting and a few other topics. (All photos by David Newkirk.)
Balken, Lorna Vogt, Tamrika Khvtisiashvili, Ashley Anderson, Flora
Bernard & Troy Williams. Nick Burns (below), and Robert Nelson
Hey everyone! First off, tell us a bit about yourselves.
Troy Williams, executive producer of RadioActive for 6 1/2
years. Former Eagle Forum intern turned militant queer.
Born in Iowa, grew up as a suburbs kid in Detroit; spent half my
adult life in western Oregon; been living in Utah almost ten years.
Have lived in many places around the world -- conservative parents
(my mom liked Nixon, volunteered for Reagan); I have been
left/progressive since high-school age, ever since seeing
shanty-towns when living in Argentina.
Robert Nelson. From Fort Benton, Montana. Work at the University of
Utah’s Marriott Library. Been doing radio on KRCL since
Lorna Vogt, former social justice, non-profit director; current
member of the public bureaucracy.
My name is Tamrika Khvtisiashvili. I am Georgian, which is a small
country in the Caucasus. I study linguistics, with emphasis on
indigenous endangered languages at the U. I like making films and
learning how to play accordion. I also love politics and reading
books and I love anything
radio. I am lucky to be married to my best friend, John Bouzek.
Together we run our business, Blue Plate Diner.
I'm a recent graduate of the U of U with a BA in Political Science,
a local musician, and a writer at large. I'm an activist and an
engaged citizen, and I like loud music and good conversation (but not
at the same time). My favorite cocktail is a salty dog (tequila and
grapefruit juice) and I always wear the same hat.
Born and raised in rural Utah - degree in Botany and Chemistry from
WSU. Longtime political advocate / activist, began my journey 21
years ago with Food Not Bombs, Seeds of Peace, Western Shonshone
Defense Project, after coming out began working for NCLR, Utah Pride
Center, SweRve, Equality Utah and of course - KRCL.
I am a climate justice activist. That means, I think that
climate-related issues are the most important of our time, that
future generations deserve protection, as well as living people,
especially indigenous. I am a co-founder and co-director of Peaceful
Uprising, a climate activist organization that is headquartered in
Salt Lake City. I participate in politics, and I am grateful to be
alive in such an important moment in human history. I am a student at
the University of Utah and am majoring in political science, whatever
that is. I have been a Utahn all my life, growing up in Chris
Buttars' district (West Jordan) and Moab. I consider myself a social
libertarian. Love freedom, but believe there can be victims of
freedom. Justice requires some rules.
How did each of you first take an interest in radio?
My background had been print journalism, arts reporting, and not a
lick of radio. But when I moved to Utah, I so liked KRCL, I pitched a
show "Changing Channels/Alternate Takes"; which was
accepted and the station gave me training -- clearly, I learned as I
Brainstorming with Gena Edvalson and Troy Mumm about shaking up
public affairs at KRCL with something engaging and new that would get
the audience involved. I was one of the original five hosts and fell
in love with the show and opportunity to learn.
I have always loved radio. I grew up in the country Georgia when it
was still part of the Soviet Union. Radio was what people listened
to, all people. On TV there were only three channels and they were
heavily controlled by the government. On the radio one was able to
listen to music and once in a while in the middle of the night catch
a very faint signal of BBC. Radio has always been the world that
meant freedom and creativity. I have interned and volunteered at
local radio stations and honestly it would probably be my dream
have had a mild but enduring obsession with public radio since
adolescence. I'm a known, admitted NPR junkie, although my favorite
radio programs are seldom "newsworthy;" my shows of choice
are story shows, like “This American Life” and “The Moth Radio
I love mass communication, so I became interested in radio at a very
early age. I was always attracted to the idea of utilizing broadcast
technology for exploring ideas -- with the goal of reaching a
community-based type of consensus, or at least, an informed decision
about where to go next. When I was nine, I used to interview my
little brother and record it on a chintzy little tape deck,
pretending we were on the radio. I got butterflies the first time I
actually called into a station to talk to the DJ's. I still get
butterflies when I am about to go on air.
I heard an announcement for new volunteer orientation while having
dinner with my roommate at The Pie. They were looking for an early
morning reggae host and I was developing an interest and sizable
collection in reggae music and had done some low fi radio at the U of
U’s KUTE as an undergraduate. I was a total “Smile Jamaica” fan
before I became co-host in 1989 and then host in 1990. Have been at
the station ever since.
When my colleagues started hosting RadioActrive, I started listening
I was politicized after 9/11. I didn't understand the geo-political
landscape enough to comprehend what had happened. As the Bush
Administration started it's drumbeat for war, I noticed that the only
media outlet in Utah that was offering an anti-war perspective was
KRCL. I started volunteering on the fledgling show RadioActive and
three months later I was hired to be the producer.
Did any of you seek out college or any professional training before
getting into broadcasting?
Not a damn bit.
I did not, but I am thinking of angling my graduate studies in that
Nope, I had done a LOT of theatre and some TV, but radio was a whole
new game for me.
I have a film degree. I've learned most of everything I know on the
I got my bachelors degree in film, that's where I met and became
friends with Troy Williams. Although I think film and radio have very
little in common.
My day job: Coordinator of the Communication Department at SLCC. I
teach mostly mass communication -- media writing, and so on. I also
taught video production up at the U for a few years. I have an MA in
English, Journalism, and Creative Writing; completed a PhD program in
Telecommunications and Film, mostly theory and criticism.
No. I was on the show a few times and then Troy asked me if I would
be interested in hosting. I am now enrolled in a radio journalism
course at the University of Utah, and to my pleasant surprise, my
instructor is Dan Bammus. Awesome. I'm learning the ins-and-outs of
audio software and on-site reporting via radio. Also,
When did you first hear about KRCL, and what did you think of the
Always knew about it but it was in the background because the music
shows were too random. I like public affairs more than bluegrass. I
love the station and its mission and even its crazy volunteers each
of whom thinks s/he owns the station, which is a good thing if not a
Found KRCL when moving here.
KRCL and I are exactly the same age. It was, and remains, the place
I turn to when I want to hear something new. Corporate, repetitive
radio has nearly taken over. But if I turn it to 90.9, I'm getting
something new. Like a vacation into a new musical territory. I might
like it, I might not, but I get to hear something new. RadioActive is
the same way. Whenever I find it on, I give it 20 minutes at least.
Moved to SLC in 1986. When KCGL the terrific indie rock radio
station at the time was changed to religious programming. I was lost
for quality radio and someone pointed me towards KRCL and community
radio as an alternative to commercial radio.
The first time I heard KRCL I was probably 7 or 8. We used to listen
to it all the time when I was working on projects with my Mom -
stained glass, jewelry making - KRCL was the soundtrack. I remember
the first time I donated I must have been about 12 (because I had
allowance money to spend). I had recently gotten hooked on the
Saturday reggae show - I actually did a report in 7th
grade English class about reggae music thanks to my new-found love and
knowledge from KRCL. My Mom and I were hanging clothes out on the
line listening to Radiothon. I called in and pledged $10 - and that
was the first time I heard my name on the radio, and my first foray
into supporting causes I believe in.
I had this amazing animation teacher in college, I can't remember
his name. He had a music show on KRCL and I would listen to it. I
remember trying to ask if I could have a show, because I wanted to
play music, but it seemed so unrealistic that I never really pursued
it. I continued to listen to KRCL over the years, although I listen
more now than ever before.
I've been listening to KRCL ever since I moved back to Salt Lake
from the south. I love it; it's an essential component of Salt Lake
City's unique, quirky, excellent community. Plus they have, hands
down, the best tunes in town.
How did you find out about RadioActive and how did you become a part
of the show?
I got involved in RadioActive through Peaceful Uprising.org, a
nonviolent direct action group aimed at combating catastrophic
Troy Williams and I met in film school. We became friends right
away. After we graduated we hadn't seen each other for a while, but
ran into each other somewhere. He asked if I would sit in during
RadioActive to cover a shift, I agreed and somehow that one time
turned into a regular thing. I don't actually remember how that part
I helped to start RadioActive when I and Lorna Vogt, another
progressive and future RadioActive host in the community, opened the
phone lines on “Smile Jamaica” for three hours of listener call
ins when the Iraq invasion happened in March 2003. That was so well
received by listeners and staff that the idea for RadioActive began
to form with Gena Edvalson who was the Public Affairs staffer at the
time for the station. I did the very first interview Labor Day
When R.A. first began, Gena Edvalson asked me to be a part of the
show -- she had originally trained me.
I had been a listener for years, then my organization took a band of
students to Washington DC for the Powershift '09 conference, and
participated in the largest act of civil disobedience in climate
activism history (the Capitol Climate Action). When we came back, we
were invited on to RadioActive to talk about our experience. I was
invited back later to talk about something else, and after a few
local actions that made some waves, a few members of our
organization, Peaceful Uprising, were invited to guest host the
As I mentioned, I had a few friends who were hosts. When one of my
friends retired and moved out of state she recommended me as a
possible replacement. Troy asked me to come down and audition/train -
and then brought me in.
What was your first time hosting the show like, and what was it like
for you fitting into that role once a week?
Well, nervous, but also it felt comfortable in a way, me and a mic,
like I knew what I was doing -- but I sure didn't. I had to learn
shorter sentences, simple short questions, Once/week is great -- we
are very non-host-centric. I credit Troy w/giving me the great
opportunities to talk with wonderful people, people who have great
stories to share, great books they've written, cool things they're
doing. I love helping get news and info out, that other stations and
media don't carry.
My first show was awful. I was super-excited and nervous and it
sounded like I was amped up on caffeine.
first show was like my other shows since: butterflies and enthusiasm.
I had a leading author, as well as an actual climate scientist, in
the room. I didn't want them to know it was my first show, so, I
didn't tell them. But not knowing how to do something never stopped
me from doing it. It was probably an awful show. As far as fitting
it into my life once a week, it is getting easier, but more exciting
at the same time. I can't think of a chore that I would rather have.
Research and scripting are getting easier, and my guests have taught
me so much. I'm starting to see the results of my interviews in other
places. It is so rewarding to be a volunteer at KRCL.
The first time was a little nerve wracking. I felt like I had to
know everything about the subject - which incidentally was the
rise of the Christian right - this was back in 2006. I was utterly
over-prepared - which I soon learned isn't really the point. It isn't
my job to know everything about the issue - it's my job
to ask the questions that will open the conversation and engage the
listener. It took me a few months to settle in to a schedule of
research and show prep - and now I only host occasionally, so I try
to fall back on my Sunday afternoon research habits.
First show was a phone call in, so it wasn’t as distracting as
having the guest in the studio. But it was liberating to be able to
offer a different perspective compared to the lack of progressive
viewpoints from the corporate media. I’ve always been a political
junkie and my undergraduate degrees are in Middle East history so it
was a good fit for my interests and I had fifteen years of on air
experience so I was comfortable with that part already. Plus in 2003
there was no credible alternative to Bush’s Oil Wars and Robin Hood
in reverse tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of working people
and the invisible poor. So I was enthusiastic about being involved in
something that was unflinching in a commitment to be Anti-war,
anti-corporate greed, anti “anti-intellectual” as a counterweight
to the dominance of the Corporate Media world wide and in Utah. I’ve
often been called by friends and listeners “The Angry Liberal”.
I’m cool with that. Because if you’re not pissed off at the
American political shit-stem, as Peter Tosh would say, you’re
either not paying attention or you’re benefiting from this lack of
democracy from the two party system which is just twin wings of the
It was incredibly exhilarating and slightly dreamy; I was lucky
enough to have a guest whom I actually know personally, and she was
in-studio, so it wasn't nearly as intimidating as my second
interview. I have listened to enough public radio to know the basic
rhythm and ropes, and I have always felt like I'd have a knack for
it; turns out I do (although of course I have a whole
lot to learn, still) and the validation was incredibly gratifying.
So, effectively, it has been a dream come true.
For my first show I think I interviewed a filmmaker. I am sure I was
nervous but I remember being more excited than nervous. Doing the
show once a week is really great, because I get to research and learn
about new stuff every week. It only sucks when I want to leave
I can't remember my first show other than being nervous but also
thrilled -- the power! Seriously, it was a thrill and a great
challenge, and I found it to be a good motivator to my week --
staying on top of the news and thinking more deeply about what I and
potential listeners might want ask.
How is it for you each working with Troy Williams as the
What can I say about a great producer? If I get sick, I call Troy
first. Without Troy, I couldn't host R.A. -- he finds me excellent
guests, he does all the pre-interview stuff. Really, I just show up
Troy is a great asset to our community. His energy is definitely an
inspiration. On a personal level, he is very supportive. In the
beginning he would kindly tell me what worked and what didn't.
Instead of telling me that I sucked, he would say, why don't you try
this... he is a great friend, I would work for him anywhere
Great. Troy has an amazingly rich political, spiritual and social
vocabulary - and he is always looking for ways to broaden it. His
commitment to seeking out new ways of talking about and understanding
the issues in our world has made me a much more informed and
interested student of this awe inspiring and terrifying
Troy is terrific. We are lucky to have him. He has a tremendous
amount of energy and sincere passion for progressive politics and the
success of RadioActive as compelling radio with terrific guests. He
always lines up great interviews based on my political interests but
will also assign me unique topics that are beyond my political focus.
His organizational capacity as producer allows me to just concentrate
on performing the interview. He’s good enough and isn’t afraid of
work. He could move up to a bigger media venue like Rachel Maddow on
MSNBC or Amy Goodman on “Democracy Now”. He would be very
difficult to credibly replace. So I have a selfish hope he stays with
us at KRCL.
He is an inspiration, a mentor, and a friend. I have zero
complaints. Every time he speaks I learn something. I feel really
Troy is one of my favorite people in all of Utah. I don't think I
would have been able to dive into hosting nearly as fearlessly and
enthusiastically, without his guidance and encouragement. He is
constantly urging us to be braver, better people than we might
otherwise be. Troy is one in a million. I feel incredibly blessed
that he took me under his proverbial wing.
What is it like for each of you in planning out a show every
kick ideas around with the hosts, or if something comes up I assign
them the topic. I have a strong sense of who likes what, and often
try to play to each host's strengths. But then I also like to
challenge them too. Robert is most comfortable with national and
international politics, but sometimes I like to throw him a queer
show just to push him a bit.
Generally it is fascinating - although every now and again, I will
get a show that doesn't resonate with me, and I find myself spending
hours on something I really don't care to know about.
In the old days, we got together once a month to brainstorm ideas
and set up a schedule of topics. It was a fun four hours! Now Troy
does the hard work, and I enjoy it more because he is a pro and we
have to be radio hosts rather than picking shows that could become a
platform for our pet issues.
It's fun and challenging and different every time. Sometimes the
show literally writes itself; other times I have to really dig and
try to find an angle that will draw people in and hold their
attention, in a way that's universal and applicable to their lives.
No matter how much work it requires, it is always worth it when
people are inspired to get involved in their community.
I spend a fair amount of time -- a few hours each week -- developing
questions, reading the books if they're an author. I bring about
three pages of notes and questions or more each week. Sometimes I
don't even use much of my notes, but I always want to have something.
I like having an opening to read, it's familiar.
The main challenge isn't figuring out what is possible, its making
the most out of what is possible. I consider every show a tool for my
activism, an opportunity to do real work. The challenge is doing it
right, and coming up with the most effective show ideas. It is
stressful, because you are never an expert in topics before your show
starts. But the motivation to learn more has helped me learn -- a
Since my day is Monday, I pack most of my information preparation
Sunday night and Monday afternoons so the information is fresh in my
mind for the hour interview. I’ll read an entire book on a Sunday
if need be. I ignore the topic until either Sunday night or Monday. I
then try and pull together my notes, factoids, stats to have handy
for the interview. I’ll get down to the station around 4:30 and
will write out questions and compose my introduction. I don’t like
to do any of this prior to Monday because I feel I lose a lot of
insights and lack a sort of “deadline” focus. Everything is
packed into my head and ready to come out in time for a 6PM
interview. For me the most stressful part of the interview is the
twenty minutes before 6PM. Because I am usually raring to go and am
fidgety and anxious to start.
It is actually a lot of work. We all have such different styles. For
me I like to know enough of the issue so I don't sound like an idiot,
but I don't like “becoming” an expert. I like keeping some
mystery to the topic, so that way my questions are genuine. I strive
to ask questions that might audience might have as well.
Considering all the topics involved, do you view the show as more
journalistic, political, entertaining, etc?
Political and entertaining and some journalistic. We are not pros
but we do get great guests, and there are always, without fail,
wonderful kernels in each show.
I’m not a journalist. I’m definitely biased usually towards the
same point of view of the guest. We’re not conducting a debate but
attempting to inform listeners on a topic. I’m trying to increase
awareness on the individual interview but also try and tie it
together with similar themes of previous interviews: Essentially it
doesn’t matter which party is in power: Bush or Obama. Both cater
to the Military and Wall Street at the expense of democracy. I knew
that Obama was not going to be a progressive from day one and on
January 2009 I warned listeners to not just take for granted he would
be better than Bush. I quite frequently call him Obummer on air
because of the many ways he has betrayed the progressives who got him
past Hillary and McCain. He’s a Crypto-Democrat. As for the
interview itself: I try to make it entertaining from a listening
perspective. Best way to do that is to be super prepared. Often
times, especially, with authors, I can tell that they take a strong
interest when they discover I actually read the entire book or know
more than just the promotional preparation their publicist emailed
me. That elicits good results from a motivated guest. I hope that
listeners come away informed and maybe inspired to investigate
further or take some sort of action. I walk a fine line between being
genuinely exasperated with the “villains” without trying to sound
too hectoring or holier than thou. My personal inspiration is Keith
Olbermann on MSNBC Countdown if you ever watch him. He’s pissed
because he roots for the underdog. And so do I. Plus I think I have
absorbed so much from reggae music that preaches this idea of “the
meek and humble” are victimized by the rich and powerful. That
philosophy has influenced my political philosophy very much. In
reggae they sing a lot about socialism with a small “s”. Not an
ism or schism as Bob Marley sang, but a notion that too much wealth
and power is wrong amongst so much visible poverty. So many songs
they recorded in the 70's are so applicable today to the War on
Terror, Wall Street’s greed, climate degradation etc.
The show is a combination of politics, topical journalism, community
activism, entertainment, and cultural commentary. It's kind of
amazing how neatly all of these seemingly disparate elements are tied
in during each RadioActive hour; when you start writing shows, it
becomes increasingly impossible to ignore how interrelated all of
these issues truly are.
Hmmm. Well, I am not trying to cope out of this question, but I do
think it is all of those.
Exploratory. The show has a deep sense of curiosity. I think the
topics are very political, on average. But if I had to label the
show, I'd say it was exploratory activism.
Hmmm... I would say educational. Sometimes it is one or more of the
things you mentioned - but for me the overarching purpose is to
inform people about what else is out there. The voices on R.A. are
not the mainstream, and it's a very powerful venue for people who
feel excluded from the corporate narrative to find an accessible
alternative that they can get involved with.
Depends -- sometimes, like talking with Michael Klare about world
oil, it news and political. With Ramona Sierra, she's a whale
whisperer. I've interviewed a casket maker from Idaho, peace
activists from the Middle East, and folks digging for gold in the
Dream Mine. I'm not an investigative journalist, but I'm not a
blowhard pundit either. I hope I facilitate people in getting their
The show is both political and social, from a left leaning point of
view. We focus on grassroots activism both local and national. And we
also like to feature the activists who are working to create a more
just, sustainable and peaceful future.
Being a host, what do you personally try to showcase when it comes
to your topics?
Curiosity about the topic.
I try to find a thread in the material that interests me, and hope
it interests everyone.
When I host, I try to span the spectrum. I often fill in when
people are out of town.
I try to get people thinking about the less obvious questions.
Sometimes on the left, we think we know it all or we fall back on
Rachel Madow's response rather than pushing ourselves to look at
issues from a sociological or cultural way. We should never assume we
have the answers.
Respect. I am truly humbled by the opportunity to talk with people
who are profoundly involved in changing the world, in this I include,
guests, callers and the folks at KRCL.
I try to make the guest feel welcomed and relaxed so they don’t
think the interview is an interrogation. I try to think of it as a
conversation. But hopefully I try to ask good questions that can
elaborate a good response. Once again it comes down to trying to be
prepared on the topic. I want to ask questions that bring out the
best information from the guest, but I also like the chance to go on
a rant or give my own insights.
Two things: Human stories and options for taking action in real
life. Topics can get so scientific -- I try to fight it off and bring
it back home. RadioActive shouldn't be a lecture, it should be a
campfire -- a pow-wow that pulls thousands in close. Humans connect
to the information of topics most effectively through personal
stories, and through being given real options as to how they can
participate. As a host, you have to work for that, otherwise you are
just talking about something.
I like to bring it home for folks; even if it's a sincerely national
issue, I like to show how people are empowered to get involved and
make a difference at a local level. If they can’t, I want to make
them explore the reasons why.
Each of you bring something different to the show, whether it be
personality or subject matter or just feeling. What's your take on
your fellow hosts and how they impact that show in different
Monday: Robert is my angry liberal. Defiant and suspicious. His
knowledge of the Middle-East, the war on drugs, the surveillance
industrial complex, and the legalize marijuana movement is
unparalleled. Tuesday: Nick is my utility man. He can handle
absolutely any topic with flare. He's an encyclopedia of world
events with a deep understanding of media matters, leftist social
movements, and neoliberal demagoguery. Wednesday: Brandie Balken or
Lorna Vogt as rotating subs. Brandie is my eco-conscious queer
activist. She has a deep understanding of social structures that
include and expand human rights. She is also my organic gardener who
will be most likely to live happily in a post-carbon world. Lorna is
RadioActive's Terry Gross but with more substance. She is a true
local policy wonk and advocate for the public sphere. Thursday:
Tamrika is my hipster linguist. She is connected to everything cool
in SLC. She also brings a global voice and perspective. Friday:
Ashley Anderson and Flora Bernard from "Peaceful Uprising",
these are my new activist hosts. We call their shows "Friday
Uprisings" because they tend to focus on the spectrum of climate
I like that we all have varying backgrounds and experiences. I love
to hear the topics that aren’t always heavy politics. Brandie and
her focus on environment and gardening. I love Tamrika’s voice and
style. Nick is terrific from a similar academic perspective that I
have. But to be honest, when I listen to them, I’m not always
focusing on what is said but how they conduct the interview. So I can
try and improve what I am doing.
I think that radio is the wrong venue for these sexy beasts. Fox
News TV would surely showcase them and their opinions more
WOW! That is a tough one. I think I can sum it up best by saying
that each of us has unique strengths and Troy has done a great job of
finding and grooming hosts that can effectively handle a wide range
of topics intuitively and professionally.
They are all so different, and so excellent; every RadioActive host
brings something special to the table. It keeps the show jazzy and
fun and different every time. I think that the main thing is that
Troy ensures the right host or hostess get the topic that suits him
or her best; no one ever has to do a show on a topic about which they
really don't care. There's enough passion among the RadioActive host
battalion to fuel a minor revolution.
I think the group is amazing because we each have our own strengths.
Troy has put together a truly diverse group from young activists to
us older voices. We bring our own style to a slate of topics, and
none of us gets to settle into a comfort zone.
I love that we are all different. Robert is so thorough and so
knowledgeable about the topics and he is full of conspiracy theories
and such. Nick is just a great journalist, he knows how to do things
“right”. He sounds so professional! The new peaceful uprising
people are full of energy and enthusiasm that's great for
RadioActive. They are involved, they care and they are able to talk
about it in a very progressive and engaging way!
It's like we're the A-Team or something -- each of us tends to be
good in different things -- we have different areas of knowledge. I
couldn't do what the other hosts do.
To date, what's been your personal favorite moment or
So many -- from a larger place, people like Studs Terkel, Molly
Ivins, James Lovelock, Melvin Goodman, General Janis Karpinski,
Angela Davis, Jill Bolte Taylor, Salim Amin, John Amaechi, Laura
Flanders -- and more local: David Irvine, David Litvak, Judi Hilman,
Vanessa Pierce, Bruce Bastian -- really, each week is something
special. I like talking with Mike Noel, I like talking with fans of
I thought that Michael Brune (the Sierra Club's new president) was a
thrill and a half; I was still so new at hosting, and he's so close
to celebrity-dom, I felt like a total rock star. Also he was
friendly, engaging, interesting, and sharp as a tack. I just wish
he'd been in the studio. At the same time, every show I've done with
live music has been a riot. I love getting musicians in the studio;
it's a great way to really keep them in their element and on the
I interviewed this guy who was a physics professor at Stanford, he
was blind and rode motorcycles and believed he could see through the
walls, I loved talking to him. For whatever reason Troy always gives
me weird sex shows, they are always funny, because people say the
most wacked out stuff. I like shows that can be funny and serious at
the same time. Recently we were talking about drug cortex problems in
Juarez, Mexico. We had a call from a Mexican woman from there. She
was really emotional and had experienced exactly what our show was
about. It was great to reach out to people on such a personal
Probably interviewing Howard Zinn. To be able to speak one on one
with a personal hero was thrilling. My favorite interviews tend to be
the controversial ones. Especially regarding 9/11 conspiracy shows.
Stephen Jones from BYU, who talked about how the ten second free fall
was from a physics point of view, impossible from planes hitting the
Towers, David Ray Griffin who wrote the book New Pearl Harbor.
Because of my academic background I really love the shows regarding
Middle East politics: Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine/Israel, Al
One of the most moving experiences I have ever had was when Lorna
interviewed Ward Churchill on the topic of colonialism and manifest
destiny. I loved when Tamrika interviewed FLDS leaders who were
challenging their pedophile public image. We've had the honor of
interviewing activist legends like Angela Davis, Howard Zinn, Studs
Terkel, Utah Phillips etc., And I love non-political shows like
Ashley's recent effort to ban phrases we hate, like "I know,
right?" and "that's so gay!" or Flora's recent show
on the Provo music scene with Fictionist and Isaac Russell.
I asked David Cobb (3rd place in 2004 presidential race) to describe
a typical morning in the world he wanted. He was caught off-guard,
but quickly caught on in. I saw his imagination connect to his heart,
and it became real to him as he described his eden in detail. By
utilizing the setting of radio, he opened a door to another possible
reality. It was beautiful.
I got to interview two young soldiers, one man and one woman, each
of whom talked from their hearts about their service and feelings. I
was amazed at both of them and thrilled I had the privilege of
talking to them.
There have been quite a few important moments for me. I could take
the easy out on this and mention some of the amazingly famous people
I got to interview: Alice Walker, Corbin Harney, Robert Kennedy Jr,
Howard Zinn. I can think of three that changed my life : the
interview with Riane Eisler about her book "The Chalice and the
Blade" - the interview with Lisa Duggan about her book "
The Twilight of Equality" and my interview on Transcendental
Meditation... all incredible moments
What impact do you believe RadioActive has on both local radio and
the community as a whole?
I know that many listeners who appreciate what Doug Fabrizio does
with Radio West on KUER like how we cover similar ground with more
progressive guests. I also believe that since George Bush and the
Iraq Invasion, there are many who don’t believe that an anti-war
perspective is given a fair discussion by the corporate media and
RadioActive can fill a niche while also allowing listeners to call in
and give their perspective without feeling belittled by the usual
barking dogs on talk radio.
Random people tell me that they recognize my voice and enjoy the
show. I always think those are the most genuine comments. When a
friend tells you that they listened and that you were good, I always
think they are just being nice. Although my husband John is my
harshest critic, he tells me when the show sucks. I know I can trust
It is a great alternative that is reliably progressive and never
lazy. It broadens the spectrum, and I like to think it keeps both the
PBS stations and the conservatives on their toes or at least a bit
The beauty is that you never know. RadioActive reaches the ears of
many people, and the ideas therein take on lives of their own. I hope
that positive, unmeasurable results are happening everyday. I think
Hmm... I think above all it has given marginalized and ostracized
people a voice - a place where they can hear some of their views and
values reflected back at them, This makes the entire community
healthier, stronger and more vibrant.
I believe in the media marketplace, where multiple views are
available. But with media ownership consolidation, fewer and fewer
voices are out there. KRCL and R.A. are critical in maintaining and
serving the marketplace of ideas. Democracy dies without a plethora
of media viewpoints.
The public media landscape is under constant threat. Media
consolidation is gobbling up everything and the public sphere is
being privatized and bought up by big corporations. Their main
objective is to make money for their shareholders. And they don't
critique themselves. These are our airwaves, they belong to the
people. They shouldn't be bought and sold for profit. A healthy
democracy depends on exposure to diverse opinions and attitudes. I
hope we bring a perspective that is not being considered in the
I think it's an unparalleled local resource. Not only does it
address any and all of the topics other Utah media won't touch with a
ten-foot pole; it allows listeners to actually literally join the
conversation, and ask questions of folks to whom they would otherwise
have no access. Plus it offers opportunities to get involved,
locally, and education about community resources. It's a Godsend for
progressives in this red, red state of ours.
Gavin: Going state-wide for a bit, what's your take on
broadcast reporting in Utah, both good and bad?
always impressed with KUER's newsroom. Jenny Brundin kicks ass. And I
have a crush on Doug Fabrizio. But don't we all?
on the crush on Doug Fabrizio and Jenny Brundin's reporting. I can't
listen to the red-meat radio and won't subject myself to it no matter
who says I should listen so I know what "they" are up to.
They can play with themselves; I will indulge in sanity and
reporting? The NPR Affiliates do a good job, I think, but how many
reporters is that? Otherwise, it seems to me mostly car wrecks,
traffic jams, and dead people.
Okay. I've lived in other states, and it is right on-par.
think we are lucky to have KCPW and KUER. Both of those stations do a
great job and I like to support both of them. I don't listen to news
Flora: I'm a
fan of KCPW as well as KRCL; I've always been pretty happy with the
local radio stations, but I'm not brave enough to flip on the Beck or
the Savage. I guess I limit my exposure to toxicity as much as
possible. Call me a coward; I like to listen to the stations that
report on the things I care about. I think KCPW does a fairly awesome
job of neutrally and thoroughly reporting on local news; anything
else I need, I flip on KRCL.
don’t “consume” any corporate media in Utah: don’t listen to
commercial or talk radio; don’t read the Salt Lake Tribune
or Deseret News. I read City Weekly for a more critical
take on local news.
think it runs the gamut. There are some great things happening in
Utah - I think the very best of it is in community radio - KRCL,
KZMU, KCPW, KUER, you get the point.
there any aspects of it you wish you could change or
past shows is important because often times people will talk to me
about wanting to hear a show they missed.
like a little more access to diverse news sources, as opposed to
having to stay up until 2AM to hear the BBC's take on what's actually
going down in American and the world.
KRCL, or R.A., or media in general? I would like low power FM to come
to Utah, for my students. I would like more people to tune in to KRCL
-- it's a very powerful community resource.
would like people to understand and know the importance of fully
locally produced radio station like KRCL. It truly is a great asset
to this community. I think having more than one radio station is
actually a positive thing, because that way people just listen to the
radio more often and can switch from one station to another.
would like more training and feedback. It is a tremendous opportunity
and privilege, and I don't want to let listeners down.
think the main thing I would change would be more of it... the
more voices there are the better.
there needs to be more emphasis on non-corporate radio. Stations are
too willing to sell out. More community radio!
listeners and more opportunities to reach people who don't share our
political bent. That's happening. KRCL's format change a couple
years back has led to a significant increase in listenership. That
is spilling over into RadioActive. People who are tuning in to hear
great music are also being exposed to RadioActive and “Democracy
Now”. That's a great thing! Figuring out how to best use multiple
platforms to get our show out is always on our mind.
your take on community radio today and how its holding up against
corporate and satellite radio?
think it will become even more popular as the rest of the radio band
becomes even more predictable and cold.
Troy: Like I
said before, public media is shrinking. Everything is for sale. We
need people to invest in their community by financially sustaining
the public stations that they love. KRCL is doing well against an
ever changing media landscape. But it's wise to never take anything
one of the few bastions of unbiased, actual reporting we have left.
It's something to which we should cling like sinking sailors to
flotsam. Call me a “doomsayer”, but recent developments imply, to
me, that corporate rule isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and if we
want to know the actuality and the truth of our situation in Utah and
at large, we best be pledging every spare dime to corporate-free
holding, but it is not something you can take for granted. I hope
that people realize that it isn't something that can be taken for
granted. There should be more community radio stations.
hard these days -- who's not listening to Pandora? I know I do --
most of the kind of changes that KRCL did last year, community radio
did twenty years ago. But what's important: community radio is local;
that's what matters, and that's what listeners like and want. We are
local voices, local attitudes, local interest. If KRCL simply showed
up now, it'd be almost impossible, if not completely impossible, to
start a community radio station today.
struggling. When I started twenty years ago, the only real
competition was other radio stations and boom boxes/stereos. Now
there is iPods, twelve disk CD changer, satellite and internet radio.
The best thing going for terrestrial community radio is that it is
free and local and devoted to music and information not profit. But
we have to maintain a competitiveness in all these competing options
and we can compete for our share of the internet audience too. I know
that I have a lot of non-local listeners who find KRCL, “Smile
Jamaica” and RadioActive: former Utah residents and others
interested in the uniqueness of individuality that community radio
argument could be made that we live in a coporatocracy - but I
believe that the stronger and more powerful corporate interests
become, the more tenacious and organized grassroots communities
general it is definitely more difficult for radio stations to compete
with Pandora, internet, easy access to personal music on laptops and
iPods. But radio is so different, it is so much more immediate. It
provides its listeners with the connection to the rest of the world
and to their communities.
can we expect from all of you and the show the rest of the
of the same, I hope -- more stories showcasing what's possible,
what's out there that we can achieve.
great, engaging, important, fun, informative conversations about the
topics that matter.
Robert: I plan
on exposing the crypto-fascism of the tea party and the Right. As
well as Obummer’s selling out of the left and progressives while
pretending to be a populist.
progressive talk radio...
Ashley: I will
be focusing on creating shows that are more share-able. I want each
RadioActive that I participate in to be something that someone who is
fighting for climate justice (or human enlightenment, or both) wants
to pass around as a resource.
pushing back and asking the good questions.
keep rocking the free world as long as they let me!
hoping a kick-ass debate between Matheson and Wright. Alex
Zaitchick's new book on Glenn Beck, Uncommon Nonsense, and
coverage of the Tim DeChristopher trial. And we'll also be watching
Representative Sandstrom's bill to have Utah mirror Arizona's harsh
from the obvious, if there anything you'd like to promote or
community media -- your democracy needs it, your neighbors need it,
and you need it. We need it.
send us your show ideas! Who do you want us to talk to?
us during the show! It feels so good to get the phone calls! Then we
know you really are listening.
KRCL just started playing my band, La Farsa; we gave them our demo,
and they dug us! Our record release is on June 5th at the
Urban Lounge, and we have a lot of shows coming up this summer before
we hit the road for our very first tour. It's exciting, so feel free
to plug us if you're so inclined; that would be swell as
would say no matter your interest, or your passion - you can find a
local non-profit organization dedicated to it. Please support them -
we are all in this together and we must stand for each
Ashley: As the
year goes on, we will be producing more "fridayUPRISING"
shows, that will focus on the climate crisis and related issues. You
can check out previous ones at PeacefulUprising.org. I'd also
like to plug my fellow hosts, but that just doesn't sound right.
Also, vote for Claudia Wright in the Democratic primaries. For
heaven's sakes, you might never get a chance like this again.
"summer fling" two-day Radiothon will June 23 and 24,
including a big kick off party at the station June 23 from 5-8. Live
music, booze, screen-printing and see RadioActive in person!
are other talents behind the scene too. Alana Berman has been
producing shows for us recently. She is the newest addition to the
KRCL family. And the shows are sometimes directed by veteran
volunteer, Mike Walton, who jumps in when I can't be there. Also, our
operations manager, Tino Arana is essential to the show. He makes
sure that our sound quality is good. He trouble-shoots every possible
problem and calms me when I'm panicking about something. Ryan
Tronier, our program director, is a tremendous support. I couldn't do
my work without them. KRCL has placed a lot of trust in us. They
allow us to bring on radical folks and explore subversive ideas and
never question our intention. That's what's great about community
radio. We don't have to be beholden to corporate influences. We can