Krys Boyd Accomplished the Near-Impossible: Successful Radio Without Yelling

Categories: People 2013

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Stanton Stephens
In this week's Dallas Observer we profile 30 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Stanton Stephens. See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here.

Imagine sitting down with media company execs today and making this pitch for a show: a shout-free, two-hour radio call-in program offering in-depth interviews with authors on topics such as humanism among primates, revenge, heroism, comic book heroes and dirt (as in that stuff under our feet). Even Krys Boyd, whose award-winning noonday program Think on KERA does just that, seems a bit surprised at her own success.

It's not that the 42-year-old TCU grad doesn't understand today's news landscape, where brevity, speed and confrontation rule. She did her time reporting and anchoring at local TV and music radio stations in El Paso before heading to Dallas in 1999 to become news director for Broadcast.com, and, later, as a broadcast news producer at Yahoo.

"This was back when it was so exciting that you could see video on the Internet," Boyd says. The job got her out of beat reporting, chasing gang shootings and attending kids' funerals, but it also meant she spent most of her workday aggregating content, the news business' euphemism for rehashing someone else's reporting.

It also opened the door to a different kind of journalism.

"It was kind of like Cinderella," Boyd recalls. "At the end of the day if I had done all my work, I could call and invite anybody I wanted into our studios and interview them long-form."

She scored interviews with George W. Bush as he made his first run for the presidency, and with Tammy Fae Baker -- the sort of "gets" who wouldn't bother to return a call from a TV reporter in El Paso. And she honed her interview technique, a skill she would put to use when she moved to KERA in 2001 and took over Think in 2006.

Her style isn't always dial-stopping -- Observer theater critic Elaine Liner once called her boring, Boyd notes without rancor -- but no one can accuse her of being lazy. She reads five to eight books a week plus reams of background material to prep for the show.

"I just like to take an idea and turn it upside down and look at it and explore and see if there is anything about it I can agree or disagree with it," she says. "You can only stand so much of this pugilistic radio and television before it wears you out."

All that makes Boyd an anomaly in today's newscape -- a thoughtful, thorough nerd who's willing to listen. Does she sometimes feel like a wooly news mammoth? she's asked.

Boyd smiles.

"I'm discovering there are a lot of wooly mammoths hiding in the trees," she says. "People have good brains, and they like to learn things."

Wooly mammoths, by the way, would make an excellent subject for a show.


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19 comments
mcmallen
mcmallen

I love her interview style..well prepared, the best questions and what might turn other people off but I like, she let's the guest answer the question and she doesn't take a stand on the answer and make herself part of the interview, but asks a clarifying follow up question instead..

gabe
gabe

I don't get the hate for her. Like another commenter said , I think she is the best in the business . I like her interviewing style better than Teri Gross . One of the few times i turn my dial from the ticket is to see who Krys has on ..

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

IF you like suck up, amnesia radio, perhaps you have a point.  What about an award winning radio show, like Ed Wallace's Wheels?  He single-handedly does more/better reporting than your whole staff

Chip
Chip

Yes! Speaking of strawman fictions like the "yelling discussion host" phantom KERA like to contrapose itself against when relieving naifs of their money, I also admire Krys for not killing her guests like a praying mantis and nibbling them leisurely from the head down for lunch like so many alternatives to THINK are prone to do. I just hate that crunchy-pulpy sound those other radio alternatives to THINK make.

chetan
chetan

Easily one of the best shows ever created, on any medium. IDK why all the other comments are complaining about a lack of scope, incredibly wide ranging themes are covered. eg, yesterday saw both a family planning discussion as well as a current affairs discussion concerning modern dictators and their attitude towards their own country. I have no idea how this woman reads so much, because I genuinely get the feeling that she reads these books cover to cover. I can barely make it through an observer article without giving up (but I'm there are some who wouldn't blame me :p)

chetan
chetan

Easily one of the best shows ever created, on any medium. IDK why all the other comments are complaining about a lack of scope, incredibly wide ranging themes are covered. eg, yesterday saw both a family planning discussion as well as a current affairs discussion concerning modern dictators and their attitude towards their own country. I have no idea how this woman reads so much, because I genuinely get the feeling that she reads these books cover to cover. I can barely make it through an observer article without giving up (but I'm there are some who wouldn't blame me :p)

chetan
chetan

Easily one of the best shows ever created, on any medium. IDK why all the other comments are complaining about a lack of scope, incredibly wide ranging themes are covered. eg, yesterday saw both a family planning discussion as well as a current affairs discussion concerning modern dictators and their attitude towards their own country. I have no idea how this woman reads so much, because I genuinely get the feeling that she reads these books cover to cover. I can barely make it through an observer article without giving up (but I'm there are some who wouldn't blame me :p)

darment
darment

I enjoy the show, but I think Krys is very fixated on issues that matter to her, in particular, family and raising children.  Not that I find anything wrong with that, but I wish someone at KERA would take a look at all the interviews over a period of time, categorize them and see what they are and are not covering.  Very little arts and Dallas quality of life discussions, LOTS of book/author talks that repeat who is interviewed on other NPR programs, and way too much parenting and dealing with children issues.

ThatGuy
ThatGuy

I was friends with Glenn Mitchell.  Krys has done a wonderful job of continuing his tradition of a rational salon of ideas.  She is great and the show is great. 

schermbeck
schermbeck

IMHO, KERA has given up covering current events or public affairs on this show by anyone who hasn't written a book. It's safer for their older and wealthier demographic, but doesn't really fulfill their obligation as a Public Broadcaster.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

I agree completely with City Girl. She is up there with the very best, like Charlie Rose. I have no idea how she prepares so well, but she always knows her stuff, and knows how to engage her interviews.

citygirl
citygirl

Krys is the best interviewer I've ever heard (better than Terri Gross)--she asks the most informed & thoughtful questions.  Her guests often comment "that's a great question", and they're not saying it just to be nice or stall for time.  It's so refreshing to hear the non-shouting, non-rancorous radio you describe!

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@chetan cause a real story would have focused on how stupid Americans are, and how we don't know what's done in our name.  That was the subtext of Shibley Telhami's book, but Krys is too anodyne to go there.  All of NPR has become that

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@darment Chip's right, Krys gets the guys doing the marketing rounds.   What would represent breaking news would be to reveal the donors to the think tanks that promote these sophistic "experts" who have more an agenda than facts, expertise, or any academic thinking. 

Chip
Chip

@darment  

THINK's production is phoned in from a heavily overused NPR Rolodex. If you listen to Terry Gross or Diane Rehm, you've already heard 2/3 of THINK's shows before they ever air.

RobertStinson
RobertStinson

@schermbeck I like Krys' show, but I agree about Think's and KERA's lack of focus on public affairs. I can't decide if they waste the talents of their news staff or if their reporters are lazy and behind-the-times.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@primi_timpano Charlie Rose and Krys are both poor for the same reason.  They have utter amnesia.  They never refer back to other interviews, they don't really challenge their guests.  They simply let the guest give their sales pitch (and they're all selling something) without any real challenge.  You may say thats necessary to get the interview, and you're right, so long as we have so many lickspittle "journalists" (sic) willing to be used, and to so insult their audience.  I guess NPR is the best of a sorry lot, but they used to be good.   I'm bitter that NPR has sold out, sold us all out.

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