Editors at Work: Public Radio

Jackie Fortier is a Weekend Edition host and producer at KUNC for Colorado Public Radio based in Greely, Colo. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English/Creative Writing from Colorado State University and a graduate degree in journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder


What does a typical workday look like for you?

I report in the morning. There is a newscast at 2, 4, 5 and 6. I edit in the afternoon.

What is your greatest challenge?

Thirty seconds before I have to go on, I have to change the story. A lot of what I do, rather than the longform stuff which you students get to do, is Hemingway-esque. It is quick. It is concise. I have 45 seconds to tell you what is going on in your state, how it impacts you, or what taxes you’re going to have to pay. I need to make it about the listener. I need to contextualize the story.

What is your favorite part about your job?

I’m an only child. “Sesame Street” tried to teach me how to share, but I don’t do that very well still. I don’t have a producer, and I don’t have an engineer. I decide the order of the stories, how “hot” I want to make the board. I do the newscasts and the breaks. I like working by myself in that capacity.

What is the key difference between editing content for radio versus a print publication?

The key difference is how it sounds. When I’m editing I will read the story aloud for clarity’s sake. I don’t care what it looks like grammatically. I need you to understand what I’m saying, and I need that to happen before anything else.

How does your creative writing background affect your process?

I don’t like alliteration. I’ll change it. You have to be careful with anything that sounds similar to the next word. Colorado legalized pot, so I say, “marijuana,” “pot” and “fracking” all the time. You have to be careful with any word that sounds too similar to the next. You don’t want people to get lost. Most people when they listen to public radio, they’re making dinner, driving in their car. It’s radio. We’re not fire-side chatting with you. I need to grab you, make you pay attention. But I don’t really think Don DeLillo has much to do with what I’m doing now.

Was your graduate degree in journalism essential in securing your current job?

Yes, however, a lot of the people that I work with are English majors but do not have a degree in journalism. I am in the minority. You can get a job at a radio station without a graduate degree in journalism. Our music director has an English degree. I think having an English degree is a great idea because for me, it taught me analytical thinking and much better writing. You ask better questions if you’ve read good literature.

 

Interested in public radio? WHYY, the public media provider based in Philadelphia, offers a variety of internship opportunities for college students.

—Megan Dunn, ’16