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Meet KMUW's New News Director

Chandra Stauffer

KMUW has hired a new news director, and we're happy to welcome Aileen LeBlanc to the KMUW staff.

Aileen is a public media veteran with more than 30 years in the industry.

She comes to KMUW after working as a documentary film producer for three years. And before that, as the news director at WYSO, a public radio station in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

1. You've lived in quite a few places here in the U.S. And you've also traveled around quite a bit. Had you ever been to Kansas before you applied here?

AL: I had never been. And the first time I came here, I didn't know what to expect. Have to tell you I was extremely pleased with what I found and I'm very happy to be here in Kansas.

2. You've made a career not only in radio, but also in film. Can you tell us a little about how your knowledge of film will shape the way you work here at KMUW?

AL: My experience with video goes way back. And I actually was doing commercials way back in the day. And went into public radio after 11 years in commercial television. I had always loved public radio. I had always listened since college days. And I wanted to meet Susan Stamberg and Bob Edwards. When I saw pictures of them, I thought "That's not what they look like!" 'Cause radio voices are so cool.

I really feel strongly that because the business of broadcasting has expanded greatly into the web, into social media, into social apps, and people are accessing our content in so many different ways that bringing pictures and video into radio is absolutely where we should be going. I feel that can enhance what we can do here.

3. Since you're new here and have a fresh perspective and fresh set of eyes to this community, what are some of the topics or stories you're looking forward to covering?

AL: I've only been here, what seven days? And Carla Eckels had already planned on doing an interview with the insurance commissioner about the Affordable Care Act. So we thought, "Why don't we do a series about the Affordable Care Act?” Not about the political debate, not about whether it should be repealed, not about all the arguments we've been hearing in the media, but specifically about how is it going to affect people in Wichita, people in Kansas.

So we thought we would go out and ask emergency rooms and ask hospitals and ask insurance companies, and ask people right here in Wichita on the street, "What is it that you know about the Affordable Care Act and how it will affect you? And what do you want to know?” So that's what we're working on right now.

4. You've got that series coming up, and you also have something new that we haven't done on KMUW recently. That's on October 9. Can you tell us about that?

AL: Along the same lines, we were at a forum recently to find out what some of the facts are. It was a forum for about 50 – 60 people here in Wichita. I was impressed with the knowledge of the presenter and asked him if he would be interested in doing a live call-in show on KMUW.

I think this would be a great service to our citizens, and they can ask the questions that they want to ask. They could email us even now at info@kmuw.org, and we would be live in the studio on the 9th, from 6 to 7pm. You can call in with your question, you can Tweet a question, you can Facebook a question. And we will have some of the charts available, so visually on the web, as we're talking and taking questions, you will be able to see some of the charts that will help you understand where you fit in to the choices that will have to be made.

This goes also not just for the Affordable Care Act, but I'm brand new here. I don't know the community or what's under the surface. I don't even know the surface! So, feel free to contact me with information, with story ideas, with information about their group, their community organization, something that's going on that might be interesting. And the best way to do that is to get out there in the community, and for the community to tell me how the news department might be effective here.

You can contact KMUW's news director, Aileen LeBlanc, at 978-6789 or info@kmuw.org.