Staff Q&A: Morning Edition Host Sarah Bohannon

This winter NSPR is lucky to have the assistance of a smart and spirited intern, Mazie St. Cin, a junior Chico High School student. Recently, Mazie sat down with host-reporter-producer extraordinaire Sarah Bohannon to get a glimpse behind the mic of our staff’s earliest riser. Their conversation follows…

Mazie St. Cin: Where are you from?
Sarah Bohannon: I’m from Biggs, which is a tiny little town about 30 mins from Chico. You would drive through it if you’ve ever gone on the 99 South.

MSC: What brought you to Chico?
SB: I guess Chico was just like the big city for us. We would have to come here if we wanted to go to the mall or go to Target or anything like that. I moved to Santa Cruz for a while, went to community college, and then I just wanted to be back home with my family because my sister is six years younger than I am and she was still in high school. I felt like I was missing out on her life basically, so I applied to Chico State, got in, and moved to Chico.

MSC: What did you study in college?
SB: Journalism with a nutrition minor.

MSC: When did you first start listening to public radio?
SB: I feel like a lot of people have that story of like, “I remember when I first was listening,” but I didn’t listen as a kid. My parents didn't listen to public radio. I think I just kind of started listening on my own, and then in college, I got connected with a professor who was really into public radio, and she was having an internship for it, and so I really started listening to it then.

MSC: What do you like about the radio?
SB: I love the radio because of its storytelling power. I feel like storytelling is something that humans have been doing forever and with the radio, the audio part of it, something about it is just so powerful for storytelling. I feel like you can tell a story on radio differently than you can anywhere else. I feel like it’s because people actually listen to people more on the radio, because you can’t just judge the person in three seconds like you can on the TV, or when you see someone, so you actually listen more to what they’re saying.

MSC: What do you do here at NSPR?
SB: I host Morning Edition, which means I’m operating the board in the morning, but I also put together all of the newscasts too. I also help produce three different shows here right now, which is mainly just making sure sound levels are good and then taking the audio and putting it together. I’m also a reporter, so I go out and capture my own audio and create stories. Those are the main things.

MSC: How long have you been here at NSPR?
SB: I think I’m in my second year as an employee, but I interned here for three semesters prior to getting hired. I kind of went back and forth between the Center for Healthy Communities and here before being hired. 

MSC: So you host Morning Edition. How do you get up so early in the morning?
SB: You just do it!

MSC: Have you always been a morning person?
SB: Nooo, I’ve always hated mornings — like I was always the kid at sleepovers who did not get up. Everyone else had been playing for hours, and I was still sleeping. I’ve always slept in really late. I’m just naturally a night owl. I'm really creative at night, so this has been a little bit weird for me. When they hired me, they asked if I was a morning person, and I lied and I said yes. And then I just had to make myself one.

MSC: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
SB: Gosh that’s hard. Let me think about that for a minute … I really love connecting with the listeners. Sometimes in the morning it can feel like I’m just talking aloud to myself in a room, but then I hear from them and realize they are there. It’s also really cool when I’m out and listeners know me from the radio.

MSC: So that leads into my next question, which is: Do people recognize you from your name or voice like on the street?
SB: Definitely my name. If I say I work at North State Public Radio, then they're like “Oh my gosh! I listen to you every morning,” and that’s pretty fun. The other thing that's really rewarding is when I feel like I can really capture something that reflects the North State — I don’t know, something that's real. If I can capture that, it’s cool. It’s like capturing a piece of history or a piece of time.

MSC: What do you like to do in your spare time?
SB: I… hang out with my cats a lot (laughing). I’m a cat lady. (laughing again.) I’m also pretty into fitness. I like to work out, and I hang out with my fitness crew. I hang out with my boyfriend. I don’t know, apparently I just hang out. (laughing).

MSC: Do you see yourself working in public radio further down the road?
SB: I’m not really sure. You know for me, it’s interesting because I've always had an interest in radio and I’ve also always had a love for health, so I’m always going back and forth. With health, it’s like I really want do to something with that, but I really love the radio and I think it’s so powerful, so I think in the future I could see myself definitely moving in that direction. Maybe with a show or something is what I’m thinking. I've been really liking production lately. I could see myself moving out of news though, and doing something else like a show around health.