By Lacey Daniels, KPR Intern
Dan Skinner isn’t new to the airwaves. The director of Kansas Public Radio since November 2015 has been at the game a while. A Kansas native, Skinner has been the manager of other public radio stations in Indiana, Ohio and Texas. Dan also has his own radio show now, Conversations, which will begin airing on KPR2 on Sundays in July.
Dan has been doing interviews throughout his radio career, so he feels passionately about continuing them during his time at KPR. “I’m a curious person...interviewing people is a great way to be exposed to new ideas and gain new information,” Skinner told me.
Curious as to what Conversations has to offer listeners? “One focus of Conversations is on local arts and culture. I’m inviting the leaders of those organizations to talk about their history and mission.”
This show won’t just be with community members, however. Dan has had the privilege of talking with many authors in the fields of fiction and nonfiction about their latest books. “Listeners can expect to hear interviews that cover the gamut from bestselling novels to serious examinations of contemporary issues. I like to learn about what inspired them to write the book and what they learned in the process.”
Dan has recorded interviews ranging from discussions on discovery and exploration with Paleoanthropologist Lee Berger, to plotting a novel with author David Baldacci, to “gaining a new appreciation for Bobby Kennedy” with Larry Tye. If it’s more of the local arts scene you tune in for, Skinner has interviews with area voices like Steve Nowak of Lawrence’s Watkins Museum of History and the Lied Center’s Executive Director, Derek Kwan.
“I will be happy if listeners come away from an interview having learned something new; [if they are] prompted to visit one of the featured arts organizations or decide to pick up a book after hearing the author talk about it.” When asked what his favorite interview might be: “I think my favorite interview is really the next interview, because I’m always looking forward to what I might learn next.”
Dan Skinner’s new show will be on air starting Sunday, July 2, at 6 a.m. Curious ears can also eavesdrop on Conversations on the KPR website at http://kansaspublicradio.org/kpr-blogs. Dan hopes that listeners will “feel like they are listening in on an interesting conversation in which they might learn something new, or have their preconceived notions challenged.”
When asked what interviewee he really wishes he could get on tape, Skinner responded, “There are so many that I’d have to just pull one name out of a hat. Speaking of which, did you know that Abraham Lincoln used to keep notes to himself inside his top hat? I wish I could talk with him about how he managed to navigate the challenges of ending slavery, trying to heal a divided nation, and doing so while dealing with a troubled personal life. I’m sure it would be a fascinating conversation.”
Conversations will air on KPR on Sundays at 6 a.m. beginning July 2, 2017. Two interviews from the blog will air weekly on KPR2 in a half-hour program. KPR2 is heard at 96.1 FM in Lawrence and 97.9 FM in Manhattan. Not an early bird? Listen in on the KPR app or subscribe to the Conversations podcast wherever you get your podcasts.