KUAF News Director Offers Communication Students Interviewing Advice
KUAF-FM News Director Kyle Kellams speaks in COMM 298V: Topics in Communication (Interviewing).
The final project for students in the Communication Department's interviewing class is to produce a project for StoryCorps, a public service organization that collects, shares, and preserves stories from people of all backgrounds by archiving them at the Library of Congress.
To help students prepare, Kyle Kellams, news director at KUAF-FM, offered advice during a class visit on Monday, Feb. 27. Kellams estimates he has conducted about 4,000 interviews during his career, which includes 28 years working at the Northwest Arkansas public radio affiliate and six years producing Ozarks at Large as a local daily news magazine.
Kellams shared stories about some of his favorite interviews, including one about the world championship mule jumping competition. He encouraged students to think about interviews as conversations, saying "interviewing is often about asking simple questions." He advised students to prepare ahead of time, to do their research, to ask specific questions in light of that research, and to begin with a light warm-up question to test the audio quality and to set the interviewee at ease. Kellams warned students not to go into interviews with preconceived ideas, but rather to engage the person in a conversation that invites "the interviewee to tell the story." If an interviewer can do that, according to Kellams, "almost everyone can be interesting." In keeping with the StoryCorps mission, Kellams reminded students that "some of the greatest stories come from people who aren't famous."
Both student participation in StoryCorps and Kellams' visit are part of the Communication Department's ongoing commitment to civic engagement and to connecting classrooms with communities.
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