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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.

KBIA alum Riley Beggin on national politics and the auto industry

Riley Beggin has shoulder length red hair and wears a sleeveless black top and earrings. She's smiling slightly into camera.
Dale Young
Riley Beggin

Riley Beggin is a Washington correspondent at The Detroit News.

She received a Master's in audio and investigative journalism from The University of Missouri in 2017.

Beggin spoke with KBIA producer Logan Franz.

Riley Beggin:
So I cover Congress and the White House from a Michigan angle. I also have a pretty sort of unique specialty, I guess, within this beat. And that's that I cover politics that affect the auto industry.

Because Michigan is still the major auto producing state in the country, it's something that matters a lot to our readers. So I'm following a lot of this climate policy stuff around electric vehicles. And, you know, we track spending and lobbying and campaign finance and all that good stuff.

Logan Franz:
I wanted to talk to you a little bit about challenges you may face being on the ground in Washington, DC in covering a completely different state.

Riley Beggin:
One of the challenges that people face in general in covering DC is that it can be a fairly insular reporting community. And by that, I mean, it's easy to sort of get sucked into the day to day of like what people care about in Washington.

I think a lot of people who go into political reporting end up liking that stuff because it's wonky, and we're wonky. And, you know, like, nerds are attracted to that.

But I think it's important to sort of remember what you know, people care about in Michigan, the people that we're serving.

Logan Franz:
What do you value the most in your coverage?

Riley Beggin:
I try to do stories that will help people.

And it sounds really simple, but there's a lot of reporting that could be done out there that doesn't help people better understand their democracy, or, you know, the people that hold power that they're voting for, you know. Or the companies that are benefiting from their taxpayer dollars, and whether they're actually doing what they say they're gonna do.

And then I think, on a daily reporting standpoint, I try to tell stories that are not what everybody else is doing. Which also sounds really basic, but it's easy to chase. And editor's often want you to chase.

But, you know, I really pride myself on finding enterprise stories that I don't think many people are telling and then trying to tell them in a way that's humanizing and accessible and interesting to sort of move the conversation forward.

Logan Franz:
How does KBIA influence where you are now? Is there, like, a skill or a certain story that sticks out to you when you were there that has influenced you today?

Riley Beggin:
I worked on a show there where we were telling, like, community stories based on sort of a theme. We did one about, like love, or—no, it was first dates at the movie theater.

And I remember being just like, so terrified of approaching people and saying, you know, "Hi, can I bother you? Like, I have some questions." And I remember someone on staff telling me, "You know, sometimes it's helpful to just think of yourself, like, this is reporter Riley working, you know."

You have a job to do. And people understand that.

And it's always helped me to this day, even when I'm approaching people about stuff, that's way higher stakes than their memories of first dates.

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

Logan Franz is a student producer from Chicago studying broadcast sports journalism with a minor in English at Mizzou. His passion for radio came from listening to podcasts and he hopes to one day produce his own podcast.
Caoilinn left KBIA in December of 2022.
Caoilinn Goss is the Audio Convergence Editor at KBIA. She trains and oversees student reporters, editors and anchors to produce daily afternoon newscasts. She's also a Missouri Journalism School alum.