|Q&A with Nguyen Qui Duc, host of Pacific Time
What has been the most exciting thing about launching such a unique program? The most challenging?
That Pacific Time exists at all is exciting. It's long overdue. The Asian population growth is one thing, but the way we in America have changed because of exposure to Asian cultures isn't new. It just hasn't been reported. Now Pacific Time has taken a pioneering step: still a long way to go to cover all of East Asia and the diverse Asian- American communities across the United States, but a major first step has been taken. The most challenging aspect is to have the resources and vision to get underneath the surface, the obvious stories about these nations, and the people we report about. Pacific Time does best when it surprises not only the listeners but even its own seasoned reporters and editorial staff with new ideas and new contexts in which to understand how Asians think and act, and how we in America think and act.
What is it about radio that holds an appeal for you, instead of, for instance, television?
Radio is such an immediate medium; it's most exciting. And best of all, it allows the imagination to soar. How do you convey smells and places and time on the radio airwaves? Words, sounds, silence, a musical note -- there is so much one can do and it's like magic. Television was once black and white. Radio has always been in color. (Also, I never need to worry about wearing a tie or makeup).
How has the public responded to Pacific Time? Have you found any successes or challenges that have surprised you in specific markets?
We must not be doing our job right, because we haven't received too many complaints! But I am excited that everywhere I go in the Bay Area, people of all different ages, ethnicities and backgrounds say they listen to the show. What has been encouraging is the fact that listeners find in the mix of our stories a new, more exciting way to look at stories. The show not only provides Asian and Asian-American perspectives, but also challenges conventional views of how Asians react to the world around them.
We're happy that WNYC in New York is now airing us three times a week, but we are also happy that our programs are being heard in Iowa and Illinois -- it's not that we broadcast to Asian Americans, it's not that our show is for Asian Americans; it's for everyone.
Are there any parts of American history that particularly intrigue you?
I need to learn more about the Civil War. Obviously, the U.S. involvement in Vietnam is of extreme interest. But even just a few years after arriving in America, I was taught that the Civil Rights movement, the struggle of African Americans and Asian Americans throughout the 20th century (and earlier, and today) is extremely important. The things I am able to do at Pacific Time are only possible because of such struggles. I am grateful for that history.
What story by Pacific Time has been the most surprising?
I have so much to learn: Pacific Time covers all the nations in East Asia, and that's plenty to cover in half an hour each week. And then we also need to cover all the different Asian -- Pacific Islander communities in America. It's humbling. I am always surprised by the diversity of thought, the differences of experiences between generations of Asians -- and by how much America can teach to and learn from Asia and Asians.
What does the future hold in store for Pacific Time?
There is always more we can do. We have been increasing our stories about Asian Americans and have focused on various series: health issues, environment, the economies of Asian towns across the country. We will continue to do such stories, and show the diversity that exists within the Asian-American community, and within each Asian community. People change, generations differ -- we'll report more on the changes, conflicts and negotiations between various groups. We'll look at the divide between the urban and suburban Asian-American communities, between the generations, between the East Coast and the West Coast, and across America.
We're also building alliances so that Pacific Time can provide other areas and stations with relevant and exciting stories about the Asian-American communities and, in return, get reports from other regions in the United States about how we are all connected to Asia, Asian cultures and Asian-American developments.