Voice of public radio

Brian Bahouth

Photo By Jimmy Boegle

Brian Bahouth, 40, is the news director of KUNR 88.7 FM, Reno’s only public radio station. The Syracuse, N.Y., native took the position in August 2000, continuing a wide-ranging career that has included stints as a high school English teacher, a ski magazine founder, a Greenpeace employee and a reporter for the Pacifica Radio network. The graduate of LeMoyne College (in Syracuse) served as the news director for a station in Alamosa, Colo., before moving to Reno. He is currently one of the hosts of KUNR’s weekly call-in show, The High Desert Forum, from 4-5 p.m. Fridays. The scheduled guest on Aug. 31 is Janine Hansen from the Nevada Committee for Full Statehood.

Greenpeace and Pacifica Radio … you must be a liberal!

Personally, yes, I suppose I would consider myself politically liberal. But I try to avoid any preconceptions in my politics when reporting the news. I suppose they may come out during the call-in show, but we have listeners of all political persuasions, and I try to keep that in mind.

So you won’t be punching Janine Hansen on the air or anything.

No. The High Desert Forum is a very level-headed discussion about controversial issues. The only side I’m on is the listeners’ side, getting information out for them to know.

What was the weirdest moment of your radio career?

I spent three days behind the lines up in Eureka, Calif., [reporting for] for Pacifica. Activists had locked down 220,000 acres and declared it a “free state” after the death of a logging activist. I camped behind the barricades, and my most interesting moment took place when I climbed up the arm of a log skidder to interview a woman chained to that log skidder. That was pretty cool.

Was this woman stupid or brave?

She was very brave. She was later pepper sprayed off the device.

Have you ever been pepper sprayed?

Not directly. I’ve had it in my eyes when [authorities] mistook me for an activist. When I identified myself as a member of the media, they didn’t arrest me.

But they probably wanted to arrest you anyway.

They most certainly did. There’s no doubt about that.

So, what is KUNR’s main emphasis—National Public Radio or local news?

We’re a full-service public radio station. That means we have NPR programming, news, opera, jazz, folk, world music—the footprint of KUNR’s pretty big.

What’s your favorite part?

I like The High Desert Forum. There’s a real need for insightful, nonpartisan talk radio in this market and in most markets, unfortunately. This week, we’ll have on Janine Hansen; the following week, we’ll have on people from the Green Party. It’s for the benefit of the listeners.