The book on Krys Boyd’s desk is a high school English teacher’s dream. Four different color tabs are sprinkled throughout dozens of pages, marking those that Boyd finds intriguing.
The Munger Place neighbor leans over the microphone, her voice both soothing and energetic. Boyd is on the phone interviewing author Sam Wasson, who writes about improv comedy. She gesticulates and expresses emotion as one might if her guest were in the booth. As her producers work in the control room, fielding callers and providing “Saturday Night Live” audio segments for the day’s programming, Boyd is an engaging interviewer on the other side of thick studio glass.
Boyd hosts “Think,” KERA’s statewide live long-form interview program where she talks with everyone from university professors to famous actors. Within the last month there were episodes called “Jellyfish: A 500-Million-Year Mystery” and “Rethinking the U.S. Prison System.”
Boyd hasn’t always been one of the most intellectually agile interviewers in the Lone Star State. While she was in school at Texas Christian University, she landed an internship with a local television station where she was tasked with carrying the tripod. She says she knew she would be a journalist after she helped with a story about a men’s correctional institution. “Other people have real jobs, “ she says. “In journalism, you get to do all these interesting things.”
She was a reporter for seven years after college, and then entered the radio business as a news director for an oldies station in El Paso. She moved to Dallas in 1999 and took a job with Broadcast.com, the company that Mark Cuban sold to Yahoo for $5.7 billion. Boyd occasionally served as guest host on the “The Glenn Mitchell Show,” an interview show similar to what “Think” is today. When Mitchell unexpectedly died in 2006 after hosting his show for 10 years at KERA, Boyd applied for and was named to the position.
Boyd sees her ability to listen, pay attention and notice the nuances in a person’s voice as important skills in order to keep the conversation smooth and entertaining. “I have to give someone space to keep talking, “ she says.
The best guests, she says, are those that exude passion for their subject. And with a show called “Think,” Boyd looks for guests who deal in ideas and concepts. She often interviews scientists, and though the perception is that they aren’t the best communicators, Boyd disagrees. “Scientists are so excited about what they do,” she says. “It’s infectious over time.”
Many of Boyd’s interview subjects write books. She reads five to eight books a week in preparation – more than 200 a year, for the record. Often, she finds that her guests and their work impact the way she lives. When she hosts a guest who has written a book about family life, she says, her children can tell by the different strategies she employs at home. “Oh, Mom has read another parenting book again,” they’ll say.
Boyd’s show also takes callers, which can be treacherous territory. Though her producers screen the calls, the questioners are not always as succinct, eloquent or on topic as they need to be. “Thank God for the mute button,” says Boyd, who had not taken live calls before “Think.” “I have to make a good show for the audience, not for the caller.”
In 2016, “Think” went from being broadcast only in North Texas to reaching 19 different frequencies across the state, including Houston, Austin and San Antonio. “Think” won the Public Radio News Directors Inc. award for best call-in program in 2012. Her audience is growing, but Boyd still focuses on what makes her program so powerful.
“We talk to all kinds of people on all kinds of subjects,” she says. “Think is about why.”
Listen to “Think” Monday-Thursday noon-2 p.m. and Friday 1-2 p.m. on KERA, 90.1 FM.
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