Posted November 7, 2013 by Cooper Point Journal in Arts & Entertainment

Interview with John Ford

By Cassandra Johnson-Villalobos

As the station’s Development Director, John Ford raises awareness of KAOS’ campus and community resources. He jokingly calls himself the station’s “master of propaganda.” Before graduating from Evergreen in 1997, he did academic contracts for comedy writing, which led him to a career in radio broadcasting. After almost 20 years in radio, John has a collection of his own catchphrases, like, “College to me is BYOB—Bring your own brain.”

CJ: When did you end up at Evergreen?

JF: I should probably recount for you how I got to Evergreen. I spent the first 40 years of my life in Niagara Falls, New York. I ended up writing and freelancing for the Niagara Falls Gazette.
One day, my editor gave me a call and said, “How would you like to do the entire Sunday front page? There’s this thing called the Simpson’s–it’s new.” And I went into it thinking that I was really going to talk to some guy who really couldn’t draw, who got lucky. And Matt Groening thought he was going to talk to someone who just worked for a paper, that didn’t know jack about animation.
[I said] “You’re the second animation guy I’ve talked to.” “Who’s the first?” I said, “Oh, Chuck Jones [creator of Pepe Lepew & Roadrunner] from Warner Brothers.” And we suddenly realized we were just two toon-heads. He told me about this crazy school he went to that had no grades, no required courses, and was as he put it, “a haven for creative weirdos.”

CJ: Who are your favorite people you’ve interviewed?

JF: In radio, we’re talking close to 20 years of interviews, and with some wonderful and remarkable people. I’m going to pick two that happened in the same week. At the beginning of the week, I interviewed Bill Moyers. He had just left PBS for the first time. And I closed the week by interviewing Frank Zappa’s widow, Gail Zappa.

CJ: What is KAOS’ role at TESC and in community?

JF: I think in both instances we are a conduit between the smaller communities and community at large, be it the campus community, the progressive community…We are a conduit for neighbor to neighbor conversations and to be a reminder that the college is your neighbor. The students are your neighbors.

CJ: How is KAOS funded?

JF: By our agreement with the [S&A] board and the college, we are obligated to raise a certain amount, besides the generous portion we get from student activity fees. I can’t thank students past and present enough. [Choosing] to let us remain independent like this is a genuine gift.
We do the fundraising through a couple of mechanisms. One is underwriting, which is by definition an on-air acknowledgement of financial support: “Support provided to K-A-O-S by your business, doing whatever it is you do, wherever you do it.”
The other way is through membership drives. We are a public radio station. The public is actually on our airwaves: no paid hosts. If you don’t hear it on KAOS, it’s probably because you’re not here doing it.
To that end, we look for member support. Twice a year, we take a week…to break into the shows [2-4 times] and talk about the value of KAOS and the value of becoming a listener subscriber. It’s a matter of making the case for support and conveying need without desperation… Radio is really about being your best self.