Interview: KQED's Mina Kim

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Talking to Mina Kim about her job as KQED Public Radio's evening new anchor/reporter, it quickly becomes clear that she is passionate about it and appreciates the opportunities she gets to try new things. Just days after her conversation with On Q, she was given a new opportunity — to be the host of Friday Forum. "I am so honored to join the Forum team. It's a show with great people and content. And, best of all, it lets KQED engage directly with listeners on the air in real time."

Although she's been full time at KQED for five years, Mina's history with the station goes back to 2004 when she did a brief fellowship with the program Pacific Time, which is no longer in production. The experience hooked her on public radio. "I also learned then that I love being among other journalists and how they challenge each other and offer different perspectives on a story."

Describe a typical workday as evening news anchor.
It's a very structured day because it's so deadline driven. I have no choice but to go live on the air at 3:57pm.

Usually I'm on the phone with the assignments editor by 9:30am, talking about potential two-way topics — the long-form interview we do at 5:30pm that tries to add context to a big news story of the day. My commute from Napa takes about an hour. I get to San Francisco at around 11:30am.

From noon until 7pm, practically every minute of your time is accounted for — meetings with editors, researching and writing scripts, pre-recording two-way interviews, and prepping for the first newscast at 3:57pm. Then you're doing live newscasts every half hour until 6:04pm, and one more at 7:04. What a schedule!
In some ways, the anchor job is harder than reporting because you are constantly on deadline, but in other ways it is easier because I always know that unless there's crazy late-breaking news, I will be home by the same time every evening. I have a three-year-old daughter. Having this routine has helped my family have a normal life.

Mina in the Forum studio
Mina in the Forum studio

What do you especially like about your job?
I love the variety of story topics. Being a general assignment reporter/host can be a slog. You have to be up on so many topics and issues, but I am enlivened by the variety. Also, I've had the chance to take on a variety of roles, like filling in to host Forum, hosting election coverage and other things I'd never done before.


Is there a recent story that was particularly memorable?
One of the stories that I really enjoyed was a collaboration with the Center for Investigative Reporting on abuse of elders by caregivers. It was an incredible experience to help investigate and report on such an important issue.

In September you got the chance to report on the Ai Weiwei exhibit on Alcatraz.
I'm producing features for KQED News, The California Report and NPR. I'll be doing three radio features and a television piece for KQED Newsroom. It's been a lot of fun.