by: Barbara DeMarco-Barrett
Jarret Lovell is host of "Justice or Just Us?" that airs Thursday mornings at 8 a.m. on KUCI-FM. He’s also been Public Affairs director for the last two years.
Q: "Justice or Just Us?" ... this is a compelling show title. How did you come up with it?
A: I originally heard the line, "It's not justice, it's just us..." in a rap/hip-hop song. When I was trying to think up a name for my public affairs show, this short sound-bite popped into my head. I still can't remember which song features the sound-bite, but listeners are always telling me where they first heard this line. Apparently, Richard Pryor has used it in his comedy routine, and the Black Panthers had incorporated it into their speeches. I'm not certain of its original origin, though.
Q: Tell our listeners about your day job. I think many will be surprised.
A: I am a criminologist and I teach in the department of criminal justice at Cal. State Fullerton. Naturally, people assume that criminologists are "pro-cop" and big supporters of law enforcement. At the same time, people naturally assume that if Lefties like me are anti-cops or anti-law enforcement. The truth is somewhere in between. Many criminologists want to make police more effective at crime control. Others—like me—believe that the root of crime is structural. I like to compare police to ambulance drivers and EMTs. Are they necessary? Sure. But no one is fooled into thinking that those who respond to injury are going to eradicate injury or disease. With crime, we over-emphasize the importance of cops. Meanwhile, we place guns into the hands of young employees on their first day of service. Can you think of any other profession where you have a license to kill on your first day of employment without a requirement of college education?
Q: And what about your background....are you an Orange County boy?
A: Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, but I spent my summers on Balboa Island. I attended UCI as an undergrad, and after 7 years of grad school in New Jersey, I ended up back in Orange County.
Q: Back to your show...you've had it for a few years now. Any shows or guests particularly stand out?
A: Certainly interviewing Howard Zinn was a highlight. His book A People's History of the United States is not only one of the best selling history books of all time, but all of his writings and lectures have had an indelible effect upon me. I was so nervous the morning I interviewed him. I woke up at 5 or 6 in the morning and realized I left all of my questions and materials in my office at Fullerton! So I got into my car and drove to my office, not wanting to trust my own ability to "wing it." I think I made it back to the station one minute before my show. I also enjoyed interviewing Kalonji Olushegun of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America. Americans are so misinformed about this issue. Did you know our government has given reparations to Native Americans, WWII Japanese Americans, and even Alaskan Eskimos. But not the descendants of those who built this country?
Q: How do you find your guests--or do they find you?
A: My show is very self-serving. If I'm reading a book that I particularly like or listening to a musician whose lyrics I find politically poignant and poetic, I seek 'em out. If my audience enjoys the interview, all the better. But at least I can guarantee I'll be pleased.
Q: Describe your ideal guest.
A: Someone who can identify a heretofore unidentified problem while providing solutions to address it!
Q: What compelled you to do a public affairs show at KUCI?
A: I was involved with KUCI from 1990-1994 as an undergraduate. I had a music show at the time but occasionally hosted "Freedom of Voice"--a Sunday night call-in talk show. When I returned to Orange County for my job, a public affairs show just seemed natural.
Q: Any talk shows you listen to and like?
A: The OC Variety Hour w/ Cameron Jackson and Manoj is really enjoyable. I don't always agree with them, but it's a nice balance to
my show and it avoids the yelling and screaming of mainstream "left-of-center" public affairs. I also enjoy Weekly Signals with Mike and Nathan. More than the guests, I enjoy their chemistry. Turning to other networks, I enjoy Democracy Now w/ Amy Goodman which can be heard on Pacifica Radio and Free Speech TV. She is a true journalist, and even though she's on another network, it's still public radio, and we should encourage our listeners to seek out great programming, wherever it can be found.
Q: Any that drive you nuts?
A: I listen to NPR everyday, and it drives me nuts. They are so afraid
of challenging authority. They have become little more than a daily blotter of government events. They provide no history, no perspective. They have completely usurped their "fourth estate mandate" to serve as a check and balance on those in power. But challenging authority is neither left nor right, it is simply American. They seem to have forgotten this.
Q: What do you hope listeners get from listening to your show?
A: A sense of empowerment. I want to encourage my listeners to not be told how to create social justice, but instead to seek out justice. Justice, like democracy, is a verb, not a noun. So I hope that social justice becomes part of my listeners' lifestyles.
Q: What do you do with your leisure time?
A: I have three cats, and I'm happiest sitting on my couch with my three cats vying for lapspace while I read a good book and listen to my new CDs. I am also heavily involved with the Orange County Peace Coalition (which I co-founded) and the Green Party of Orange County. I spend lots of time at coffee houses, too! Oh, and Fingerprints and Amoeba records (when my budget permits).
Q: Last words?
A: I went to grad school and lived in Newark, New Jersey--a city still dilapidated from the riots of the 1960s and the flight to the suburbs. Every morning when I walked to class, I saw a nice permanent placard on the brick building across from mine: "NEWARK, DO SOMETHING!" I have always found this inspirational. So my parting words would have to be:
"INJUSTICE? DO SOMETHING!"
Barbara DeMarco-Barrett is host of "Writers on Writing," Thursdays at 5 p.m. on KUCI-FM and author of Pen on Fire: A Busy Woman's Guide to Igniting the Writer Within (Harcourt, 2004). Her Web site is www.penonfire.com.