Event Recap: Behind the Scenes at KUT with Host Jennifer Stayton

Jennifer Stayton behind the scenes at the KUT studio

On February 12, 2020, Freelance Austin took its meeting on the road to tour the KUT studio with Morning Edition host and Women Communicators of Austin (WCA) member, Jennifer Stayton. KUT is located on the University of Texas campus in the Belo Center for New Media.

 To begin our tour, Jennifer explained that KUT makes up the news programming part of the station and KUTX is the music side of things. These two entities combined in 2013 and are housed in the same space. Although the station falls under the University of Texas umbrella, it is not financially supported by the university which makes listener support so essential.

Having spent her entire professional career in radio, Jennifer is dedicated to her work and community, which is proven by her early morning hours! After our tour, Jennifer graciously answered questions, starting with her strategy for interviewing people which could easily be used to prep clients for media interactions. Here is her advice:

Question: Can you share some interviewing tips or strategies?

  • Ask less important questions in the beginning to make the interviewee feel at ease.
  • Leave plenty of time because you may not get to the good/important stuff until right at the end!
  • Remember to LISTEN and remember that you’re having a conversation (instead of focusing on your next question.) Let it flow naturally.
  • Build trust. Although Jennifer (and most reporters) do not share their questions ahead of time, primarily to prevent rehearsed responses, Jennifer lets the interviewee know that she won’t ask about anything they don’t already know. She will give them a heads up on any sensitive subjects she plans to ask about but prefers to not partake in “gotcha” questions.
  • She lets them know (in most cases) the interview is not live. This helps reduce performance anxiety.

Question: What advice do you have on pitching the media?

  • Jennifer receives about 400-500 emails a DAY! A lot of these are national press releases that are just spam, but it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.
  • Put AUSTIN or LOCAL or CENTRAL TX in the subject line.
  • Do your homework and take the time to look up the specific person in the newsroom your story pitch should be directed to for coverage. Here’s a staff list: https://www.kut.org/people/category/632
  • You can also send releases to news@kut.org or fax them to 512-232-5441.
  • The story must be Public Radio newsworthy and specific to the Austin market and listeners of this area.
  • Jennifer offered to connect people (from a group or office) to reporters to meet and discuss how the newsroom works or to sit in on a news planning meeting. You can contact her at jstayton@kut.org.

Question: How are you interfacing with the web?

  • The reporters pitch their stories or ideas at the news meeting and the group decides what stories are web only versus web and radio. Often, this depends on the topic and length. When submitting material, it never hurts to include good relevant images (not stock) or video for web purposes.

Thank you to Jennifer for our behind-the-scenes look! Find more information about KUT, including how to promote an event or organize a group tour of the station, by visiting the website at https://www.kut.org/faq.

Jeanie Garrett
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