Written by Victoria Williams.
WCA member Jennifer Stayton is a woman of many talents. One of her most recognizable talents, in fact, can be heard weekdays from five-to-nine in the morning because Stayton lends her voice to Austin’s own KUT-FM as the local anchor and host of Morning Edition, NPR’s well-known morning news program.
“I enjoy being part of a program that I think helps people start their day in a really informed way,” Stayton said when I recently sat down with her for a chat at the Hilton downtown.
It definitely shows because Stayton has been brightening up the lives of the Capitol City’s residents during their daily commute to work for over a decade. She is married to her husband, Charles and has a teenage stepdaughter named Samantha.
“I (am) really very fortunate to be able to work in public radio in my hometown,” she said.
Before landing her gig at KUT and making a name for herself in what she calls, “a very public-media friendly city,” the native Austinite cut her teeth in the industry and honed her radio-broadcasting skills by volunteering at WCFM, the on-campus student-run radio station, while pursuing her undergraduate degree in Psychology at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. The veteran radio broadcaster has also held positions in news, music, production and sales at commercial and public-radio stations. She also found time along the way to earn a Master’s Degree in Radio-Television-Film from Syracuse University in Syracuse, N.Y.
With the help of Dr. Edward Burger, President of Southwestern University in nearby Georgetown, Stayton is providing listeners with a new program called “Higher Ed.”
Focused on higher education, lifelong learning and exercising the brain, it is presented in the form of a digital, online-only podcast that is both educational and entertaining and features math puzzlers to encourage participation from the audience. Stayton and Burger – who has 25 years of teaching experience under his belt – can be heard conversing back and forth in each episode about a wide range of topics, including introducing happiness into the classroom, developing a love of learning or exploring how failure leads to success.
“One of the ideas that we really hope to get across from the podcast is that learning is fun,” Stayton said. “It can be enjoyable; it doesn’t have to be about grades or getting something right or wrong. “
Having Burger there to lend his expertise helps to balance out the flow of conversation between the two and leaves room for a bit of humor.
“The ability to just toss a topic back and forth is fun for me,” Stayton said. “It’s sort of like practicing what you preach … I find myself learning something every week by doing the podcast. Dr. Burger is also very bright and very funny, so to be able to have a dialogue with someone who is really witty and sharp about these important topics – I find that very satisfying and enjoyable. “
In addition to her success at KUT, Stayton is also very involved in the community and does a lot of communication-related volunteer work. She volunteers at St. David’s Episcopal Church interviewing local authors for “Coffee with the Author.” She also speaks to area school children and college students about the journalism, communications and radio professions. Stayton is also a mentor for WCA and serves on the Communication Major Advisory Council at Concordia University in Austin, where she advises on courses and other issues related to their communications program. She is also a member of the advisory board for KTSW radio station at Texas State University in San Marcos.
For more information on the “Higher Ed” podcast, visit http://kut.org/topic/higher-ed.