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Feature
Spotlight on John Klug
by: Barbara DeMarco-Barrett

John Klug hosts Building a Better World, a new KUCI Public Affairs program airing every other week on Wednesdays at 9 am. "My focus is community empowerment on a national, regional, and personal level," Klug says. It puts the YOU in Global Solutions."


Barbara DeMarco-Barrett: How did you decide on the focus for your show?

John Klug: Community empowerment has been a consuming passion of mine for the past 16 years. I’ve gathered some great insights along the way. This show is an attempt to share some of the opportunities I see for advancing America’s civic culture at this time. To make our cities, counties and regions more inclusive and more empowering for all involved.

It’s really a culmination of 16 years of work helping to bring attention to “high-tech, high-touch” tools and thinking that can facilitate empowering, inclusive economies in America.

There are some great things happening in the lower 1/3 of the economy that I believe can benefit the whole of our country as we look to create a more sustainable future. This show will serve to translate some of those happenings to the public at large, inspire people, and encourage engagement.

BDB: You began at the station — when?

JK: Training in fall of ’97 and began my first show in January ’98 doing a music show called “Hunger (paracyberchurchfreeform).” It was an eclectic mix of experimental, industrial, electronic and what I call broken folk—fat beats laced with quirky and beautiful female vocals (Ani, Sinead) and peppered with live samples of spoken word. The general theme was “hope in the midst of the wreckage”.

A year later I began doing a PA show, as well, called “The Empowerment Zone,” dealing with similar issues found in “Building A Better World.”

BDB: Then you left...because?

JK: Something I was working on — independent of KUCI — fell apart…so I had to jump ship to make things work financially.

BDB: And you returned...because?

JK: The pay was better at KUCI—hehehe. Actually, the psychic pay was better at KUCI…there’s something about having freedom in your creative life. Something therapeutic about remixing your own world.

BDB: What changes have you noticed at the station since you first started being a DJ/PA host?

JK: The recording and production capabilities for putting together a more professional show have increased and are becoming more stabilized—meaning, it’s easier for staff to output higher quality shows. I think the current level of show quality (music and PA) is the highest it’s ever been (and I hope it continues to remain non-formulaic).

Also, the Web-connectivity of individual shows via staff (Music DJ’s and public affairs hosts) is tremendous — brilliant, really — in this day and age compared to just several years ago. It’s really exciting, fun.

BDB: What effect do you think KUCI has on the community at large?

JK: Something that always stands out to me are the stories of how the music at KUCI has “saved” so many people who have grown up around the area. Like they were POW’s in Irvine / Orange County and KUCI gave them a taste for the freedom they were going to have some day. I was talking to a guy this past month that worked for the U.S. State Dept, and he said, “Oh yeah, I know KUCI well… it helped me survive my high school years in Newport Beach.”

Over the years, I’ve run into similar stories like that one—from people you might never expect to hear it from.

I think KUCI’s very presence lets people know there’s a bigger world out there. Especially with music, they discovered that the earth was no longer flat.”

BDB: Anything else?

JK: Sure. Over the years, I’ve found KUCI to be a place of healing and growth – both for myself and for others. As a creative person, it is a place where you can and should take risks to find the dimensions of your craft, your voice, your capabilities. There is nobody here to tell you to stop growing…so the only limitations… really… are your own. That’s one of the most amazing things about KUCI — there really are no limits of where you can go with your show or what you will connect to. Your voice, your hands, your technical and creative capabilities can take you wherever you want to go.

So, head out on a journey and crash into the world as only you can. As a KUCI sage said to me many years ago: “If you are true to your heart, and play what you love, listeners will follow.”

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett is host of "Writers on Writing," which airs Thursdays at 5 p.m PT. She's also author of "Pen on Fire" (Harcourt, 2004). Learn more at www.penonfire.org.

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