Volunteer Profile: Erin Cornett

Volunteer Profile: Erin Cornett

Thursday 9/27, 2:45pm

Erin Cornett: Volunteer Profile by Martha Louise Hunter

Q&A with Erin Cornett
Head Engineer - Writing on the Air
Rotating Engineer - Bringing Light into Darkness
Occasional Engineer - Strictly Bluegrass
KOOP Member since 2011

Former Community Council member                 

How did you become involved with KOOP? I came to a new volunteer information session at the Moose Lodge, completely new to radio. I was a book editor at the time, and someone suggested it would be a good fit.

What’s something not many people know about you? I really enjoy welding, blacksmithing, and making metal art. I’m about to start learning jewelry making, and I know I’ll enjoy that a lot.

Where did you go to school? I grew up and went to K-12 in Canyon, Texas; UT for my undergrad and Columbia University for my M.A. I’m now attending ACC to learn more about audio engineering and metal arts.

Tell us about Writing on the Air.  It is an NPA or “talking” show. We host live guests every week, interviewing authors, journalists, songwriters, publishers, poets and other writers who put stories out there. It is a blast to run the board while listening to interesting book discussions.

What do you like about KOOP? The mission of the station, and I feel that keeping older music alive and introducing people to new—or new to them—music is a vital cultural need. The issues and perspectives covered in the NPA programming is found nowhere else that I know of.

What does WOTA bring to the community that is unique? A lot of listeners get inspiration from hearing our authors talk about their writing process and challenges they’ve faced in getting their work out there. Writers work pretty solitarily, and any space or show that provides a place for community with other writers is of value -- they can get that community but still be a hermit writer and listen at home.

Who have been some of your favorite WOTA guests?  My favorite guests are the ones that make everyone laugh and who laugh a lot themselves. I also always enjoy hearing about the Texas Book Festival and the Kirkus Reviews’ latest reviews.

How’d you become head engineer? Interning, I just kept showing up so they kept letting me engineer! At first, I didn’t want to engineer or have a show, but then I tried it -- as both a book editor and an engineer, I enjoy smoothing everything until it’s just right.  

It was really nerve-wracking in the beginning. It was about two years before I could take over the board without my hands shaking, but that’s just my general anxiety for anything new. Helping out with Bringing Light into Darkness, I feel the same way about the phones. But I’m getting there…

Have there been any cringe-worthy WOTA episodes?  An entire gaggle of guest showed up high on marijuana. We cut that show short by about 20 minutes. There have also been two or three nightmares with playbacks of pre-recorded shows. And the guest who only gave Yes/No answers.

What cool things have come from KOOP for you?  It really is meaningful for me to be part of a cultural resource like KOOP. After not expecting to like being on the board so much, it turns out I like it enough to try and do more of it professionally. I really, really enjoy being a part of creative projects WITH people, not just art on my own. And definitely some great new friendships -- getting to know a bunch of really interesting, smart, and funny people who care about many of the same things I do.

Have you ever used the dump button? Oh yes. A particular songwriter decided the song he should sing was the one with the F-word in the chorus. The CHORUS!

What advice would you give new engineers? Learn one thing at a time—don’t try to master every aspect of the board all at once. Get really familiar with the basics before you start in on the gain knobs and such.

Does anything still surprise you? How much fun it is to just stand there and make sure the levels are right and everything runs smoothly. Control-freak much?

You’ve been WOTA’s constant member for a several years now – what’s that like? It’s interesting. I’ve really enjoyed all of the hosts and their different styles.  I’m glad to be able to engineer because the hosts would rather focus on the guests and the conversation than the “buttons and sliders.” But I like the buttons and sliders!

Has the show changed over time? It has, yes. In the beginning, most of the guests were poets. Eventually along came songwriters, too. When I started, we focused more on the guests’ methods of writing, and now we tend to focus more on the content of authors’ works.

What’s the best thing about being on the radio? Being part of creating something that people enjoy. 

Be sure and listen to Writing on the Air, Wednesdays at 6pm with  Erin Cornett and Co-hosts, Martha Louise Hunter & Lisa Onland.  Info and podcast at WritingontheAir.com

Erin Cornett