Tyler Pratt moved cross country to join the KHOL newsroom this past month. He comes to us from eastern Pennsylvania where he most recently helped launch NPR affiliate WLVR. Pratt has over a decade of experience at public radio newsrooms across the U.S. where his previous reporting has centered around criminal justice, social justice and LGBTQ+ issues. We sat down with Tyler to introduce him to our audiences and talk about what the news department has in store for 2023.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. For more, listen to the link above.
Emily Cohen: How did you come to journalism and radio? You have a bit of an unconventional path.
Tyler Pratt: I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life out of high school. I grew up in West, Texas, went to college, learned a lot about, I’d say, partying and going out. And it wasn’t really for me. I left or was asked to leave. Worked for a while as a server, and I actually moved to Los Angeles, played a lot of sports growing up, and that moved me to dance. And then that turned into acting in comedy, which I did in Los Angeles as part of the Second City. And then I was driving all around, between auditions and work, and I was listening to KCRW. It was kind of my first exposure to public radio. I didn’t really listen to it growing up, and I fell in love. Morning becomes Eclectic in the morning listening to Nic Harcourt interview these artists, and I felt he was speaking to me right in my car and then throughout the day getting some news and then music. And I became familiar with all the radio personalities and I was like, I want to go back to school and get into public radio and become a journalist. And so that’s what I did. I moved to Austin, Texas, got my act together, went to school, started interning at the public radio station KCUT. That turned into having my own music show, reporting about music and being kind of a part-time reporter. And then I hit the road and decided to move to New York, where I went to grad school. And then I’ve been moving all around the country, different public radio stations as sort of a jack of all trades and radio, as a reporter, host producer, you name it.
Cohen: So most recently, you’re coming from a new NPR affiliate in eastern Pennsylvania that you helped start.
Pratt: Yeah, that was a trip. I was living in California, working at a station as a reporter and got a job on the East Coast in Pennsylvania to help launch a new all-news all the time public radio station and packed up, drove across the country. I was going to be the All Things Considered host. And the pandemic hit a week later and that migrated into me becoming sort of the assistant news director and helping run the station through the craziest times we’ve ever experienced. That was followed by one of the most contentious elections in history dealing with Pennsylvania politics. It’s a purple state and then an insurrection after that. And so was breaking news for about three years.
Cohen: What are some of the stories that stick with you?
Pratt: It’s funny, I’ve been thinking about my work and it’s been such a blur, especially that first year of the pandemic, everything which is breaking news every day.
When I was in California, I was kind of on the wildfire beat and seeing the damage that did to people’s homes and how quickly I drove up to Paradise for a story– that was a town that was completely destroyed in a wildfire. And seeing the devastation that occurred has always really stuck with me as we see the effects of climate change.
And then politically living in Pennsylvania, I covered a lot of presidential visits, and so I saw former President Trump come to town a couple of times and his base and supporters that came out had a real disdain for the media. That was a real turning point for me. So I’m always keeping that on my shoulder when I’m reporting and remembering there are people that don’t trust what we do and how can we foster and build that trust. Because I believe that what we do is important and helps keep democracy alive in the United States.
Cohen: How do you earn trust?
Pratt: You’re always checking your bias in your reporting. We all have it. And so you just remember that you get edits and you talk to your other reporters and you think about your stories and do good reporting, get multiple points of view, do your research. And when you make mistakes on them, I think it’s really important is to continue to talk to people from all walks of life. Everyone’s got a point of view. It’s all based in some form of their own personal truth.
Cohen: What are some of the stories that you’re most looking forward to diving into here? Anything that’s piqued your interest so far?
Pratt: One of the things that I’m kicking around right now is it appears that we might be on the verge of a recession. You know, hopefully not, but that may happen. And I’m looking into how that might impact a resort town like Jackson. And I’m hoping to speak with some businesses that might have weathered the last recession, lessons they learned and how we can prepare and navigate this one should it unfortunately happen. I’m also looking forward to getting to know the different communities that live here and the issues that they face. We know housing is a really big one here of a background in reporting on housing and affordability. And I know that there are people here that are really working on trying to change that, but it’s not an easy task and there’s not one answer to do it.
Cohen: Lastly, you were a dancer. I know you love to dance. What music moves you?
Pratt: All of it. I love good house music, electronic music, dance music, the blues, rock, Anything with a beat you can dance to. I think it’s so fun to go out dancing. I always refer to it as ‘my church.
Cohen: Well, we’ve got a few of those genres on the KHOL airwaves. There’s a ton of dance music and great dancing in this town, so I know you are going to have a good time. Tyler, we are so happy to have you here at the station. Folks can reach Tyler at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our email inboxes are open.