When listeners meet me for the first time, they usually say “it’s nice to put a face to the voice.” I could practically say the same thing of them; when I’m on air, I feel like I’m speaking to a faceless void, an empty room. But I got to see a lot of faces for the first time during Jefferson Public Radio’s open house this fall. I never thought that I’d have a job interesting enough that people would want to tour my desk space, so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw huge groups of people lining out our door to learn more about their local public radio station.
I met loads of interesting people that gave me a refreshed outlook of our goal here in the JPR newsroom: telling the story of our region through quality journalism.
Now when I am hosting Morning Edition, I no longer feel like I’m speaking into a void. Now I see the hundreds of people I met during our open house.
The same is true of the Jefferson Exchange, JPR’s daily talk show that I help produce. I saw people’s reactions to meeting our host, Geoffrey Riley, and how excited they got talking about the show. Hearing our listeners’ input helped me hone our segments to subjects that interest you. I also started a small collection of business cards of sources that I later reached out to. I doled out my own business cards, and I’m hoping a few of you reach out to me with more suggestions and ideas. The best stories come from the people who live them, and we don’t know about them unless you tell us.
There are some changes at the newsroom that have helped us build our group of journalism storytellers. First, Angela Decker has come back to the Morning Edition team after a one-year stint abroad. Although we are in a new building with all new equipment, she picked up the job again with ease.
She’s now hosting the morning news shows through most of the week. That gave me some time for reporting. So when you hear Angela’s voice in the morning, you’re likely to hear mine as well during short one minute radio stories about our region; I’ve already been able to report on some great stories that would have gone unreported otherwise.
The most recent one was about the new urban deer program the state is starting in January, wherein Oregon cities can take part of a pilot program for permits to kill deer within city limits. I was able to weave in a song from listener Gene Burnett, which was about the “pretty little city deer” that rove through the Ashland area. It was a lovely acoustic song with lyrics that sang beautifully “We’ll stomp your dogs and kids if they get too near, and there’s nothing you could do to a pretty little city deer.” Jokes aside, it was a really pretty song! It provided just the right amount of brevity to an otherwise contentious story. Again I have to insist that we have the most talented group of listeners (with a sense of humor, to boot). The story ended up getting a list of comments on JPR’s Facebook post, which I promptly read. They say to avoid reading the comments, but of course I ignore that rational advice. So if you don’t ever get around to emailing or calling me with suggestions or story ideas, know that you can write a comment on Facebook and I’ll likely see it.
In all seriousness, I’d like to thank everyone who came to JPR’s open house and asked questions during the tour or simply listened to us talk about what makes our newsroom tick. We’re all thrilled to meet the public radio enthusiasts in our region, and knowing that we have so much support from the community helps us continue doing what we do: finding the stories and sharing them with the region. Journalism at JPR isn’t about sitting at our desks making phone calls or rewriting other people’s articles. Instead, we pride ourselves on getting the community involved, hearing what they have to say and working it into our reporting.
April Ehrlich began freelancing for Jefferson Public Radio in 2016. She officially joined the team as Morning Edition host and a Jefferson Exchange producer in August 2017.