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This year (2022) KBIA celebrates its 50th anniversary - the station first went on air in May 1972.To mark that milestone our reporting team reached out to alums across the country and in a wide range of media. We spoke with them about the work of journalism and their memories of KBIA.The 50 Project was made possible through the support of our sponsors, long-term KBIA listeners David Black and Lee Wilkins.

Alum Kassidy Arena rejoins the KBIA team

Kassidy Arena, wearing a Report For America t-shirt and a cardigan, holds up a certificate from RFA. She has shoulder length dark hair and is smiling into the camera.
Jacob Nall
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Kassidy Arena
Kassidy Arena holds up her Report For America certificate. Arena rejoins the KBIA team in June.

Kassidy Arena is a member of the class of 2020. Everyone at KBIA would like to welcome her to the team as our new Engagement Producer.

She spoke with KBIA in February about her work at Iowa Public Radio with Report for America, as well as how she got her start in radio.

Kassidy Arena:
Yeah, so it's one of my best anecdotes. So I'm actually hard of hearing. So when I went to Mizzou, I was like, you know, thinking, I always knew that I wanted to go into journalism, I went in thinking TV.

And then I actually worked with Bram from KBIA for one of my very first introduction classes, and I brought him aside one time, and I was like Bram, listen, like, I I'm so sorry, but I don't really think I can, like do radio, I don't really think it's going to be some, like, it'll be a big challenge for me, is what I was telling him.

And he was like, Um, how about you, like, meet me at my office, and we can talk about it. So I came in there. And he taught me all about how radio is actually a super visual medium. And he was like, getting into the nitty gritties of like, you don't actually need to, like, hear this perfectly. You can, like, look at this, like, sound wave and see that it fits.

It was literally somebody at KBIA, who taught me that radio was within my reach. And a girl who wears hearing aids can absolutely do radio just a little bit differently.

Caoilinn Goss:
A lot of the people that you cover don't get a lot of coverage and don't have a lot of like media training, right? Does part of your work involve sort of like teaching people media literacy?

Kassidy Arena:
I'm so glad you asked! So part of my beat, it's kind of, I've taken on this huge project of community outreach and community engagement.

So something that I'm doing on a pretty regular basis is I'm going to immigrant groups, or I'm going to citizenship classes, speaking to groups speaking to students about what it means when a journalist is wanting to talk to you.

And so the reason why I started this project is because my family is from Cuba. So one day, my grandparents are talking to me. And they asked me, who tells you what to say on the radio? And I was like, Well, what do you mean, like, I write it!

And they were like, well, but doesn't the governor, you know, tell you what to say. And I was like, no.

So it completely like flew over my head at the very beginning, that a lot of the people within my beat are immigrants or families of immigrants, and they don't have a full understanding of what you know, free press means--heck, even US citizens maybe don't really know have the whole idea of what free press is.

So when a journalist talks to you, this is what you should expect. These are your rights: you can say you don't want to talk about it, you know, you're nobody's gonna force you to talk to us. You can expect a level of of trust, you can expect that you have the right to expect that your story will be reported on accurately and fairly and truthfully.

So those sorts of things are something that I think I have kind of taken for granted. But something that I think is going to make a difference outside of letting people share their stories, but also educating the general public about what their power really is, and how journalism can be a vehicle for them.

The 50 Project was made possible through the support of our sponsors, long-term KBIA listeners David Black and Lee Wilkins.