The silver StoryCorps mobile booth has now traveled out of the Truckee Meadows and on to another city, but for KUNR, the stories are just getting started – with an increasingly local focus to complement its national and international NPR and BBC news content.
The April-May visit by StoryCorps, the national initiative traveling the country to collect conversations with pairs of everyday people, resulted in nearly 120 local interviews. Selected stories are airing Thursdays on KUNR through June and some may eventually air nationally on NPR stations.
KUNR’s General Manager David Stipech accepted StoryCorps’ invitation to come to Reno “to help get people connected, to help understand each other as a way of building a stronger community.”
On the very day StoryCorps pulled out of town, a longtime favorite radio program found its new spot in the KUNR program lineup. “The Risky Biscuit Hayseed Hoot” has a 19-year following in northern Nevada and found a new home May 15 when listeners turned their dials to 88.7 FM. After another area radio station cut the program to the disappointment of thousands of fans last November, KUNR grabbed the one-of-a-kind local show that mixes Americana, folk and bluegrass music with a down-home wit from the show’s host Don Darue.
KUNR added another local asset just two weeks later, as respected KTVN television station reporter Brandon Rittiman became KUNR’s news director June 1. Stipech noted that Rittiman’s love for the area with longtime roots at Lake Tahoe and his passion for great reporting were evident during the highly competitive national search.
“Brandon Rittiman will bring more in-depth, quality news coverage to KUNR listeners,” Stipech said. “He will be instrumental in making KUNR a more respected news leader in the area, with far more locally generated stories.”
In adding “the Hoot,” KUNR expanded its Saturday lineup with “Jimbo’s Juke Joint” and “Take Names Later Blues.” This solid, six-hour block of local music, starting at 11 a.m. isn’t found on any other dial in the country. Along with broadcast legend Bob Carroll’s Wednesday and Sunday evening shows, KUNR now boasts a beloved collection of longtime, local radio programs.
Yet KUNR has a deeper aim. “We live in a society that is increasingly depersonalized, where everyone is more independent,” Stipech said. “It is nothing like my parents’ generation – the front porch society – which had everyone sharing the news of the day and building relationships right in their own neighborhoods. I’d like to see us be one community, and I think this radio station can help make that happen.”
The local programming and news director additions reflect Stipech’s desire for KUNR to help build a sense of community in northern Nevada. “KUNR loves this community,” Stipech said. “We work here, raise our families here and live here. In a time of economic distress where so many people are pulling apart, KUNR sees one aspect of its mission as helping bring people together. With our recent successes and those still to come, we intend to do just that.”