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Jennifer Stayton

Host, Morning Edition

What I do at KUT

I can’t technically say I turn the lights on first thing in the morning (because a few lights are on all night!), but I am the first one in the station well before dawn each day as I get ready to host “Morning Edition.” Before the show begins, I help edit and prepare local content and interviews and keep an eye out for overnight breaking news. During the show, I prepare and host all of the local breaks; anchor local newscasts; and figure out where and how to fit our local content into the national show. After the show, I edit and produce interviews with newsmakers and KUT reporters.

My background

I joined KUT in April of 2004 and began hosting “Morning Edition” that May. I used to joke that while I love the hosting job, the early morning hours are tough, and this is for sure not the job that I would retire from. It turns out the joke is on me because it has been about 20 years and I am still setting that early morning alarm. I really can’t tell you exactly why I have stayed so long — except to say that I honestly cannot imagine doing anything else. It doesn’t feel like a “job.”

1987 was the first time I did anything live on the radio. If you’re ever done it, you know there’s nothing more fun. I hosted a music show from 1-3 a.m. on Fridays on WCFM (the Williams College radio station). I spent many of my college years in the basement of the student center playing records (yes … no CDs yet), dabbling in news and learning the ins and outs of some FCC rules. That experience steered me from my original professional path of psychology into radio.

I worked in commercial radio for four years right after college doing everything from sales to production to music hosting to local news reporting. I attended Syracuse University and got a master’s degree in radio-television-film and started working at the public radio station there (WAER) while I was still in graduate school. My plan to stay in Syracuse for 14 months turned into about eight years as I found a professional home there hosting “Morning Edition.”

I returned to my hometown of Austin in 2001 and started working at KUT in 2004. I know radio has evolved into so much more than just the broadcast signal, but I will always have a soft spot and be a champion for the real time, shared experience of navigating through the news together each morning.

If I could wave a magic wand

And do something different for my career, I would focus on teaching media literacy starting from a young age. There are so many sources of information out there and so many ways to access that information — but, at least in my opinion, not nearly enough guidance about how to discern what’s legit from what’s fake.