Macalester's relationship with MPR brings journalists to campus

By Joe Rasmussen

This year’s Broadcast Journalism Series will kick-off Oct. 24, when the National Public Radio reporter Martin Kaste delivers a speech in Kagin Hill Ballroom. This marks the 12th year of partnership between Macalester and Minnesota Public Radio to bring lecturers to campus. Kaste will discuss his time reporting in South America and current work reporting from the Pacific Northwest in a speech titled “Luckless Argentines and their American Cousins.”

The program between Macalester and MPR began in 1995. Macalester pays about $20,000 per year for the privilege of partnering with MPR, said Doug Stone, director of college relations.

In return for the fee, MPR brings a series of journalists, usually two per semester, to speak on campus about their experiences.

The speakers will generally meet with a class of students in journalism or public affairs to provide the most interested students with an opportunity for more personal interaction with the speakers.

“There is nothing more interesting for these students than to meet with these journalists face to face and talk with them,” Stone said. “Of all the projects we do from our office and really all over the campus, it’s one of the most successful and effective.”

The speakers are able to bring an excellent perspective to campus through their unique viewpoints on issues, Stone said.

“They can give insider info that you don’t get just from reading the stories,” he said.

Another strength of the program, Stone said, is the fact that the speakers generally don’t put a politically partisan spin on their speeches, but simply report the stories that they’ve seen.
Past speakers have included journalists Thomas Friedman, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Aaron Brown.

The college also receives around one hundred on-air spots to advertise campus programs. The spots are usually used to advertise speakers in the series, other campus events, alumni reunions, or to promote the image of the school, Stone said, but not to recruit students or fundraise.

Stone said he feels that MPR and Macalester are “natural fits” to work together.

“We have a number of alums who work there. MPR is considered the best regional public station in the country,” Stone said. “It has a large audience interested in many of the same issues that Mac and its alums are interested in.”

“The Broadcast Journalist Series has allowed us to bring in great speakers and, at the same time, put our message on MPR, where we reach our alumni and other Minnesotans who are interested in public affairs, civic engagement, internationalism and multiculturalism,” Stone said.

Macalester is the only college to have such a connection and partnership with MPR, Stone said.

“If we didn’t want to do it anymore there are probably ten other colleges that would jump at the opportunity,” Stone said. “I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t keep doing it.