People Issue

Krys Boyd Accomplished the Near-Impossible: Successful Radio Without Yelling

In this week's Dallas Observer we profile 30 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Stanton Stephens. See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here.

Imagine sitting down with media company execs today and making this pitch for a show: a shout-free, two-hour radio call-in program offering in-depth interviews with authors on topics such as humanism among primates, revenge, heroism, comic book heroes and dirt (as in that stuff under our feet). Even Krys Boyd, whose award-winning noonday program Think on KERA does just that, seems a bit surprised at her own success.

It's not that the 42-year-old TCU grad doesn't understand today's news landscape, where brevity, speed and confrontation rule. She did her time reporting and anchoring at local TV and music radio stations in El Paso before heading to Dallas in 1999 to become news director for, and, later, as a broadcast news producer at Yahoo.

"This was back when it was so exciting that you could see video on the Internet," Boyd says. The job got her out of beat reporting, chasing gang shootings and attending kids' funerals, but it also meant she spent most of her workday aggregating content, the news business' euphemism for rehashing someone else's reporting.

It also opened the door to a different kind of journalism.

"It was kind of like Cinderella," Boyd recalls. "At the end of the day if I had done all my work, I could call and invite anybody I wanted into our studios and interview them long-form."

She scored interviews with George W. Bush as he made his first run for the presidency, and with Tammy Fae Baker -- the sort of "gets" who wouldn't bother to return a call from a TV reporter in El Paso. And she honed her interview technique, a skill she would put to use when she moved to KERA in 2001 and took over Think in 2006.

Her style isn't always dial-stopping -- Observer theater critic Elaine Liner once called her boring, Boyd notes without rancor -- but no one can accuse her of being lazy. She reads five to eight books a week plus reams of background material to prep for the show.

"I just like to take an idea and turn it upside down and look at it and explore and see if there is anything about it I can agree or disagree with it," she says. "You can only stand so much of this pugilistic radio and television before it wears you out."

All that makes Boyd an anomaly in today's newscape -- a thoughtful, thorough nerd who's willing to listen. Does she sometimes feel like a wooly news mammoth? she's asked.

Boyd smiles.

"I'm discovering there are a lot of wooly mammoths hiding in the trees," she says. "People have good brains, and they like to learn things."

Wooly mammoths, by the way, would make an excellent subject for a show.

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams