My active afternoon interviewing community leaders for a local public affairs show.
I got a head start on my bucket list recently when radio host Roger Wood asked me to fill in for him for his weekly public affairs show on KYOS in Merced.
The first job in broadcasting for me was in radio. I transitioned to television news where I worked as a reporter, anchor, producer, executive producer, and news director for five stations over fifteen years.
So my guest hosting stint on Community Conversations was a return to my radio roots.
And it was a real hoot. Roger sets up the interviews alongside his co-producers Mike Conway (Public Information Officer, City of Merced), Nathan Quavado (Merced County Office of Education), and Mark North (County of Merced).
Casey Stead from KYOS makes sure all the technical details are taken care of in his role as the engineer for the program.
Every two weeks, interview guests are brought in for individual eight-minute segments.
After four hours, two weeks of programs are recorded. The broadcasts air on Saturday mornings on AM 1480, and on the web at www.1480kyos.com
The first two interviews were with non-profit agencies with topics as diverse as cannabis and suicide prevention.
Next up was the new artistic director for Playhouse Merced who brought along two actors for the upcoming play Driving Miss Daisy.
Those interviews were followed by a conversation with two local photographers who are doing a joint exhibit at Merced College.
As the afternoon progressed, I spoke with a community leader pushing a workplace literacy initiative, two UC Merced staffers promoting Research Week activities on campus, and a volunteer from the Courthouse Museum who talked about a new exhibit called The Originals of Yosemite.
Merced Police Chief Chris Goodwin came into the station for an interview on what’s new in the department. What’s new is an ap that allows citizens to file crime reports from their computer.
With extra time to spare, I asked the Chief what has been the biggest change in law enforcement in his twenty-three years serving Merced; first as an officer and now as Chief. “Cameras,” was his answer. “They’re everywhere now. You see them at many of our intersections, on the bodies of our officers, and with members of the public as well.”
Fire Captain Josh Wilson from the Merced Fire Department was interviewed about a recent study of hazardous wastes that pass through our community from trains and trucks. “The study showed us the unique characteristic of the City’s main transportation thoroughfares,” Captain Wilson told me. “With two railroads and highway 99 all running parallel, this study helps us prepare for a potential incident that might include hazardous wastes.”
All of the interviews brought some new information to the table. As a columnist who has been writing about the community for several years, I learned a lot of new things. I also met some interesting people along the way.
Like Dave Gossman, a teacher at Atwater High School who spoke about the Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter at the School.
Dave was one of three teachers in Ag when he started with the district sixteen years ago. Today, he’s one of nine teachers in that field. Even more impressive is the growth in numbers of students in the FFA at Atwater High.
Sixteen years ago, there were about 250 students in the program. Today, there are more than eleven-hundred students in the Atwater FFA. That, according to Dave Gossman, makes the Atwater FFA the largest single high school Ag program in the nation.
It was all pretty impressive. So much going on in our community and I had the privilege of hearing it first hand by making a brief, but memorable, return to radio.
Steve Newvine lives in Merced.