By Lois Gray
This feature story about our own Joan Kjaer appeared in fyi, The University of Iowa’s faculty and staff electronic newsletter. See the original article here.
Joan Kjaer is iconic to fans of classical music. With her familiar mellifluous voice, Kjaer served for more than 32 years as the host and producer of Know the Score, a live Iowa Public Radio program whose hallmarks were musical performance and wide-ranging conversation about the arts and culture.
Now Kjaer continues that tradition in her new role as interim director of communications and relations for International Programs at The University of Iowa—a place where she can pursue her passions in international issues, the arts, music, and culture.
Her program, WorldCanvass, debuted last year and is a monthly television and radio series broadcast live from the historic Old Capitol Senate Chamber. The series explores topics that are international in scope and central to people’s understanding of how individuals fit into the global landscape.
Kjaer explains the name of the program. “The world is our sphere of discovery and examination and ‘to canvass’ means ‘to examine in detail.’ Our goal is to examine our world in detail.”
Kjaer shares with fyi how she got involved in public radio in a serendipitous way and some exciting new developments planned for WorldCanvass in the coming year.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in public radio?
I graduated from Iowa with degrees in religion and anthropology in 1975 and was planning to pursue a Master of Arts in religion when I was offered an opportunity I couldn’t resist. Hugh Cordier, the general manager of the University’s public radio stations, WSUI and KSUI, asked me to be the stations’ applicant for a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The stations applied for a Women’s and Minorities’ Training Grant, which was intended to bring women into producing and on-air roles in public radio around the country. At that time, there were few minorities and women in frontline positions. To my surprise, we received the grant, and I began working for the stations a few weeks later.
I continued to work for WSUI/KSUI following the grant period and held numerous positions, including general manager, over the 32 years I was there. I represented the University during the formation of Iowa Public Radio and served as both deputy director and communications director of the network before moving to International Programs…