Austin Carter is the new host of Morning Edition, on our local NPR station WKMS. He’s an artist and musician who also enjoys beekeeping – unless it’s hot and they attack him. iMeet this fun and interesting guy who says nothing is more American or enjoyable than a good cheeseburger!
Hi, Austin. Welcome to iMeet. So, who is Austin Carter?
For the most part, I'm just a guy who loves public radio and music. I'm interested in media in just about every form it takes: - television, music, books, video games, etc. In addition to that I'm a hobbyist beekeeper and musician.
Wait, bees? Like “buzz-buzz” bees?
I've been keeping bees for about three years and got into it because my girlfriend has had a hive before. We'd been together a few months and I'd always been interested in them, so we started out with one hive and have just kept getting more.
We're up to six hives in our backyard at the moment! Aside from when it's really hot and they're in a foul mood and decide to attack me while I mow, I've loved working with them and learning about them.
How did you get involved with WKMS, and how long have you been there? Any other notable jobs before?
I first got involved with WKMS around 2004. I was just turning 16 years old and started out as a volunteer, editing recorded commentaries and managing some records for the station. I really fell in love with public radio and continued to work with the station on and off.
I was hired on full-time, earlier this year, as the Morning Edition Host and Operations Director. I don't have a lot of notable jobs in my past but I'm proud to say that I started working when I was 13, cleaning tanning beds. I'd like to think I've moved up in the world!
We hear you’re a local boy…where did you go to school?
I was born and raised in Murray. I left briefly when I started college in 2006 in Nashville, studying Commercial Music with an emphasis on Guitar Performance. I ended up finishing college with a degree in Studio Art, emphasizing woodworking and ceramics.
I've always been attracted to creativity and making things. Though none of my academic career was really focused on radio, I enjoy that I still get to be creative in a lot of ways with my job. I always said growing up that as long as I could exercise my creativity in a job I'd be happy and so far that has always been the case.
Morning Edition is your official home on WKMS, tell us about the show…
Morning Edition is NPR's long-running, morning news show. Before I was the local host for WKMS, I didn't catch the show much, but now I obviously get to listen every day and I have an even greater appreciation for the great work that NPR's reporters do day in, and day out.
NPR is known for their thoughtful and in-depth coverage, so any given morning you'll hear excellent journalism from across the country and around the globe, and occasionally from our own backyard.
What’s the best part of your job?
I would say my favorite part of my job is getting paid to be informed about what's going on in the world. I've always wanted to know about politics, current events and national issues and I get to spend a good part of my day listening to stories and ingesting information. I enjoy the fact that my job enriches my perspective on the world.
I see you’ve started a new segment called “Beyond the Burger” what’s that about?
Iinitially wanted to produce a light-hearted feature about "off the beaten path" spots to get food. But as I started to stop by some places to do interviews, I found that the people who own and work at the burger joints I went to were really fascinating.
I feel like the news sometimes makes us feel detached from each other and I wanted to make a series of stories about the things that bring us together. And for me, nothing is more American or enjoyable than a good cheeseburger.
If you could only eat one burger for the rest of your life, what would it be?
That would be a hard decision. I feel like picking a burger is like picking an outfit, it just depends on how you feel at the time. But I'd say the most sentimental, or nostalgic burger experience for me is Ferrel's in Cadiz.
My dad always loved their burgers and I do too. We'd often stop there late at night on our way back from concerts in Nashville when I was growing up. So if you made me pick, that would be my choice. But there's a lot of great burgers out there and I plan on eating a bunch of them as part of my series.
What’s your favorite band/style of music?
That's also a hard choice. I have a lot of favorite bands through a variety of styles. But I can tell you my favorite recent musical acquisition. I'm a big fan of the late musician, Chris Whitley, and recently got a very hard to find vinyl copy of his album Dirt Floor. It was recorded on a single microphone in a barn in Vermont with just Whitley and his guitar. He had an amazing voice and incredible guitar and songwriting skills and it is one of my favorite records of all time.
If you had to pick one instrument that is your favorite, what would it be?
As a musician, I would pick guitar, because it's the one I understand and can play the best. But honestly, there is no instrument that I would choose to listen to by itself that I wouldn't prefer to hear with the compliment of other instruments. In that way, I suppose instruments are like people, they're at their best when in harmony with others.
Well said, Austin. That’s a great thought to end this week’s iMeet on. We appreciate knowing a little bit more about you – especially the bees and the burgers! Good luck with the show on WKMS.
You can catch Austin on Morning Edition from 6-10am, Monday through Friday on WKMS. 91.3 FM on your radio dial!