KHOL welcomed Eli Bernstein to the station’s full-time staff earlier this month. As the station’s first-ever deputy director, Bernstein will spearhead KHOL’s business development and membership program.
Prior to joining KHOL, Bernstein spent more than a decade in magazine journalism, first at Sports Illustrated and then Backpacker, where he served as gear editor, and later, managing editor. He also became a volunteer KHOL DJ last year.
KHOL Executive Director Emily Cohen sat down with Bernstein recently to chat about his decision to start a new chapter in community radio. The following interview transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity.
EMILY COHEN: As a community supported radio station, we wanted to sit down and talk with Eli to introduce KHOL listeners to a key member of our growing team. Eli, it’s been great to have you here at the station and as a DJ. To get us started, can you talk about how you first learned about KHOL?
ELI BERNSTEIN: Yeah, sure thing. Radio has always been important to me in terms of just finding new music. Everywhere I’ve lived, I’ve sought out the local community radio stations for their sort of music selections and, you know, their coverage of that world. So, when I moved to Jackson, I immediately looked up what was in town and KHOL was that station. And the first time I turned it on, I thought that that was a pretty amazing thing to have in a town like Jackson. And it’s honestly one of the things that kept me living here.
COHEN: So, here we’ve been shifting our focus primarily from a music station to a format that still has a lot of music, which is how you came to love the station, but also we’ve been adding a lot more local news and talk programing. And this gets to my next question, talking about media consolidation. There was a recent article in The New York Times that said there’s been about two local news outlets closing per week since 2005. And just since the pandemic, that’s about 360. So, now that you’re on the business side of journalism or of media, what do you think our community can do to ensure that local journalism survives in Jackson Hole?
BERNSTEIN: Yeah, I’ve been on the bad side of some of those consolidations and closings and it is not fun, nor is it good for, you know, the audiences that these outlets serve. And to support KHOL and independent media in Jackson Hole, if you are an individual, become a member of the station. It doesn’t cost a lot but all that money from, you know, if we get a lot of people to sign up does go a long way towards keeping us on the airwaves. If you’re business, you can support with underwriting and advertising or just donations. And again, everything helps, and we both benefit the community and take our power and viability from the community as well. So, it’s a two-way street.
COHEN: Okay. Going from that serious topic to an even more serious topic here, what are three bands you’re digging this summer?
BERNSTEIN: That is a serious topic. And luckily, I gave this some thought beforehand so I wasn’t just scrambling through my Spotify. My album of the year so far, which sort of makes it one of my favorite summer albums by default, is “Little Green House” by the Connecticut sort of emo-punk band Anxious. [It’s] just full of anthemic hooks and shout-along vocals. And it really, you know, gets me pumped up, especially when it’s warm out.
I’m also loving, sort of in that same vein, a stream of singles that’s been coming out from the Chicago band Beach Bunny. I think they’re working towards a record release either this month or next. So, [I’m] really excited for that one. And what I’m hearing is super good so far. And my song of the summer so far is “LET’S DO IT AGAIN” by Jamie xx. It’s just an absolute floor filler. And he releases songs, it’s sort of an inconsistent drift, so I’m hoping this comes with another album or EP.
COHEN: You know, working here with you, with [KHOL Music Director] Jack, it’s made my life so much easier. I just ask my colleagues for recommendations. I don’t really have to do any research myself, so it’s great.
BERNSTEIN: Happy to provide.
COHEN: Eli, is there anything else you want listeners to know about you?
BERNSTEIN: I truly believe in the power of radio, both as a cultural outlet, as an entertainment center, and as a really essential way to figure out what’s going on in the world around you. And I think if you listen to radio, especially KHOL, you’ll emerge a better person.
COHEN: And feel more connected to this place that we all love and call home, Jackson Hole.
COHEN: Eli, thank you for joining me here in the studio today. And for listeners, if you want to know about more ways to support KHOL or sponsor a show you can contact Eli at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, be sure to tune in to Eli’s weekly show Left of the Dial, when he spins an eclectic mix on Tuesday evenings from 9 to 11 p.m.