Inside Texas Tech: Public Radio at Forefront of 'Breakfast Club' Discussions
A group of longtime Texas Tech University professors and public radio fans have been meeting nearly every morning for the better part of two decades to discuss news and events, usually heard through public radio.
Jim Brink, an Honors College professor and associate professor of history, and a part of the group of early birds - he rises at 5 a.m. each day, and the group's meetings generally begin around 7:30 a.m. - said he's lost track of the number of years he's been repeating the ritual of news followed by coffee and discussion.
The topics can vary as much as the news often does. "We solve most of the problems of the world within about two or three minutes, then we hear a lot about dogs – everybody here hears a lot about dogs. We discuss other people, we do a lot of gossiping," Brink said.
Jokes, dog stories and gossip aside, the group really does have a passion for public radio. Dominick Casadonte, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Chairperson, said public radio has been a part of his life for decades.
"When I moved to Texas Tech, KOHM at the time, (now KTTZ), was literally around for about a year, and it was mostly classical music programming at the time. But over the last 25 years or so, it’s developed what I would say is a very, very diverse base of programming."
Brink said he admires the reporting that's unique to public radio through NPR programming like Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me and All Things Considered.
"It’s more than 30-second sound bites," Brink said. "It’s actually a story, [and] I believe that there’s balance in what they try to report. We certainly get an awful lot of international news, in Morning Edition and All Things Considered, that you wouldn’t get necessarily on any commercial station."
Texas Tech Public Radio's spring pledge drive is continuing through this week, but Brink said he's ahead of the game.
"I always send in my pledge just before they start pledge week, just because I want to get that guilt taken care of right away," Brink laughs. "Because I know it’s publicly supported, despite the fact that the university supplies the location and the salaries of some of the people, all the programming needs to be paid for by the listenership. So if I listen to the programs, I think it ought to pay for it."
Casadonte, while perhaps not as expeditive (or guilt-ridden) as Brink, stressed the importance of listener support for public radio. While supported by a university license, grants, and underwriting, public radio programming costs - for shows like A Prairie Home Companion - often total up to roughly a third of the budget.
"I’ve been tremendously impressed with the fact that there are three different stations, plus the computer streaming - that doesn’t happen cheaply. So you’ve got to have the resources to do it, and that comes from the public, because that is called public radio. So it can only be as public as the public supports it."
Texas Tech Public Radio's spring pledge drive continues through this Friday, when there will be opportunities to win a Starbucks gift card with a pledge of only $5 - make a pledge, and you, too could be a part of the Breakfast Club. Just arrive prepared - a good start is listening to public radio.
"If you want to be informed about what’s going on in the world, it’s a great source for that. If you want to be challenged, if you want to learn about classical music, if you want to learn about jazz, if you want to learn about interviews with personalities who are significant in the world, it’s a great venue for that," Casadonte said.
"Public radio is intelligent radio for intelligent people."