Reflections on three years at KQED

Christopher J. Beale
4 min readJan 30, 2023

On Friday, January 27 I quietly celebrated 3 years as an employee of public radio and television station KQED in San Francisco. When I began in 2020 KQED was my first public radio station, and as I’ve worked to create a new chapter in my now 25 year broadcasting career, KQED has basically paid me to learn everything they do.

I spent 22 years on the air in commercial radio as Kory. That’s it, just Kory. I hosted live daily radio shows in places like Orlando, Miami, Boston, New Haven, Cleveland, Gainesville (I am still on daily here!), and Sacramento. I was good at that job — still am—but I burned out and started looking for other creative outlets.

In 2016 I began listening to podcasts like This American Life, Snap Judgment (which I eventually got a story on) and others…and began teaching myself the art of radio storytelling through research and deconstruction. Then I discovered Bay Curious.

Bay Curious is this cool podcast where the team takes KQED listener questions about the San Francisco Bay Area, and then sends a reporter out to find the answers in these fun little mini-documentaries. I quickly binged every single available episode, it’s part of how I fell in love with the Bay Area.

In late 2019, I finally made a radio story that I thought was decent. You can hear that in this episode of my old podcast Theme Park Pulse, just check out the first story on MouseCon.

I sent that story to Bay Curious editor and host Olivia Allen-Price. She replied with an invite to meet her for coffee in San Francisco. A few days later — totally nervous and feeling out of my league—I traveled from Sacramento to San Francisco to meet Olivia face-to-face.

Olivia talked through my, then 21 years of radio experience, my podcasts, my background and the story I sent in. Then, she offered me a job as an on-call reporter on her show. That moment completely changed my life. I gave my job in Sacramento notice, and before long I was living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area.

For Bay Curious I have discovered the origins of the “bay” window, chased down the Bay Bridge Troll, rode in a driverless vehicle, tracked down the POP-CORN time lady, and discovered the actual place Monterey Jack Cheese likely comes from…and it’s NOT Monterey. And, that’s just a few of the pieces I have produced for Bay Curious.

For 3 years I’ve been an on-call reporter on Bay Curious, and it’s a role I still love. But, I also began networking and picking up other on-call work with the organization.

So far, I have been a producer and engineer for the live call-in show Forum, a producer for The Bay and The California Report Magazine podcasts, engineered Rightnowish!, The California Report, Political Breakdown and I even hosted a live event called WrestleMedia 1 — featuring live professional wrestling — in the KQED Commons!

I work more as a NABET (National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians) Operating Technician/Audio Engineer in the radio department these days, I am also an Associate Producer on the weekly television show KQED Newsroom. I find immense pleasure in these support roles that help the next generation of journalists and storytellers polish their work.

I regularly joke with co-workers that KQED has intentionally paid me to learn every corner of the Content department in the last 3 years, an education better than the ones people get in 4 years they paid for. I am truly lucky, and grateful for all of the doors that KQED has opened for me.

My style has always been to make it up as I go, and if people dig it, even better—today I am carrying that energy forward. I am representing the LGBTQ+ community loudly and proudly in my day-to-day life personally and professionally. And through forward-facing means like my podcast Stereotypes — straight talk from queer voices, and it’s participation with the radio show Out in the Bay on KALW. I also have been writing for the gay newspaper Bay Area Reporter.

It is my hope to make more LGBTQ+ content for KQED in the future, maybe even host an LGBTQ+ podcast like Stereotypes based here in San Francisco? For now, I will keep on chugging along—contributing everywhere I can, and learning from this incredible team of professionals at KQED.

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Christopher J. Beale

award winning journalist, multi-media host, engineer and producer in San Francisco. Covering LGBTQIA issues, arts, transit and culture.