Commentaries | KERA News


KERA has refocused its approach to commentaries on the radio and the web. We aim to explore the issues of the day, but not in the type of pieces you’d routinely find on op-ed pages of newspapers. Instead, we do it through storytelling and personal experiences.  

Diversity is a primary goal – across politics, ethnicity, age, geography. KERA aims to sound more like North Texas, with a wide variety of voices covering a wide variety of topics.

Immediacy is key. When reflecting on a news event, the piece should be turned around within a couple of days. Airing more than a week after a news event is often too late. And, when a news event can be anticipated, we try to air the commentary the day of that event.

Brevity is crucial. The piece should not exceed three minutes. Read aloud and time the commentary before submitting it.

So is food for thought.  A good radio commentary gives the media consumer something to think about well after its presentation ends, not just the writer’s point of view.

Here are a few examples that fit the criteria:

How To Submit

Submit commentaries by email, with a suggested two-sentence host introduction and a one-sentence “tagline” for the host to read that describes the commentator (Ex: “Jane Doe is a writer from Dallas.”) Please include your complete contact information: email address, phone number, Twitter and Facebook handles.

Whom To Contact

Sam Baker, Senior Editor

Email: | Phone: 214-740-9244 | Twitter: @srbkera

The holidays are a season of traditional comfort and joy. But Rawlins Gilliland believes that they're also a window open to the world as it was and might still be.

The idea of capitalism has always drawn mixed reaction, but the scales seem to tip even more toward the negative of late. Commentator Merrie Spaeth says it's time for big business to get pro-active.

The Peace Corps celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. Commentator Diane Brown had hoped to be part of the organization's history, but things didn't quite work out as she planned.

I joined the Peace Corps at the 20-year anniversary in 1981, intending to make Tunisia my home for two years.

The toughest job you'll ever love, as the Peace Corps slogan goes. Unfortunately, my tenure lasted less than a month. The bottom line - I was not Peace Corps material.

Dallas, TX –

Each October, an adoring crowd spends a weekend in West Texas to celebrate the work of international sculptor Donald Judd. The Chinati Foundation he founded in Marfa began hosting the event 25 years ago. Commentator Joan Davidow remembers her first visit and the impression Judd made on her.

There are people we meet who leave an indelible mark. My interview with Donald Judd 23 years ago sparked an attraction to minimal art.

Dallas, TX –

We're headed toward the season of giving. Although, you could say commentator William Holston has been doing so year-round.

Dallas, TX –

Authorities in Dallas, New York City and other cities have begun taking steps to oust Occupier movements from their camps. Members vow to continue on, but commentator Lee Cullum thinks they should do so in a different direction.

Dallas,TX –

We're still at war and unemployment remains high. But commentator Rawlins Gilliland says you don't always have to look far to see signs of progress in this country.

Dallas, TX –

Veterans Day honors members of the nation's military, past and present. But commentator Jennifer Nagorka says there's more we can do for vets after they've left the service.

The World War II generation of veterans is disappearing quickly now. Old age claims hundreds of these former fighters each day.

Dallas, TX –

He's the one writer Hollywood can't seem to get enough of. There've been several adaptations of Shakespeare's works over the last decade or so. A new film taking aim at the writer himself - sort of - prompted a commentary from Tom Dodge.

In another of those big myth-deflating movies, it's Shakespeare this time being demythologized and it's about the so-called Shakespeare Question, who was William Shakespeare?"

Dallas, TX –

Ask most people what Halloween means to them, and they'll likely say costumes, scary movies, lots of candy. But commentator Paula LaRocque says there's more to Halloween than that.

Dallas, TX –

Halloween's certainly not just for kids anymore. But conmmentator Rawlins Gilliland thinks we should consider them more as the day approaches.

Halloween has ebbed, in my lifetime, from being a quirky seasonal event into becoming the second biggest American holiday of the year. Of course, with success comes controversy. Some liken celebrating Halloween to satanic devil worship but I say the only thing we need fear going to hell is our Grimm's Fairy Tale imaginations.

Dallas, TX –

Life can easily sidetrack us from goals and aspirations, but commentator Sarah Crisman reminds us it's never too late to try.

There are three carpeted steps leading up to most comedy club stages. The infamous brick wall and bold lettering of the Improv has been a fixture of my imagination since the age of ten. 20 years later, I found myself climbing those last few steps beneath the infamous brick wall for my first real gig. Now here I stand, a comic.

Dallas, TX – You'll be bombarded with more and more campaign messaging the closer we get to election day. Commentator William Lawrence reminds us to listen with a critical ear.

Dallas, TX – We've been taught a ton of rules about what is correct English. But Commentator Paula LaRocque says you can ignore a few of them.

A common saying in language and writing is that we should know the rules before we break them. But another problem is that what we believe to be rules may not be rules at all. They're instead myths misperceptions and taboos passed on by folks who accept them as fact.

Dallas, TX –

While the subject's now a major issue, bullying has been a longtime problem. Commentator Rawlins Gilliland looks back at how he learned to cope with bullying over the years.

Dallas, TX –

The term "independent music" no longer means what it once did. But commentator David Okamoto says an Austin-based band is holding on to the old principles.

Music: "Imitation Generation"

Dallas, TX –

As President Obama prepares to unveil his plans for job creation and economic growth, commentator Tom Dodge offers some ideas of his own.

We could alleviate the unemployment problem through a government-corporation alliance project requiring no new taxes. The funding would come from a combination of the military and participating Fortune 500 companies, which would fund the civilian jobs.

Dallas, TX –

"Art of the American Indian: the Thaw Collection" is on view through Labor Day at the Dallas Museum of Art. The exhibition of 100 Native American works caused commentator Joan Davidow to contemplate how modern society has removed itself from the work of the hand.

Dallas, TX –

The last two weeks have seen wild swings in the stock market while the economy overall continues at a slow pace. Like many Americans, it left commentator Charlotte Huff unsure about how to handle her money.

The stock market plunged 634 points the same day that contractors arrived earlier this month to demolish our bathroom.

Dallas, TX –

Commentator William Holston celebrated his 27th wedding anniversary earlier this month. He reflects on why the union endures.

If someone asked me what I thought made my marriage work, I'd say there are a number of factors make for a happy marriage. But not necessarily the ones you might imagine.

Dallas, TX –

Both President Obama and environmentalists have long called for more development of clean energy. But in his commentary, Sterling Burnett sees a potential downside. Burnett is a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis. The Dallas-based organization develops and promotes private, free-market alternatives to government regulation.

Dallas, TX –

Let's face it - some words and phrases are just plain annoying. In this commentary Paula LaRocque weighs in on the words we hated most in 2011.

Every year spawns its annual list of words the public hates the most. One well-known such list is the annual collection called "Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness." That list, compiled by Lake Superior State University, is in its 36th year.

Dallas, TX –

Earlier this year, when I traveled to Hong Kong, some of the itinerary was booked on an airline based in the United States and some on airlines based in Asia.

Dallas, TX –

Don't look now, but a major, global trade war is brewing. It started with the ill-advised "buy America" provision inserted into the stimulus bill last February - that is, a requirement that cities and states spending stimulus money need to use only American-made products.

Dallas, TX –

A few months ago, John Updike died. I had read almost all of this great writer's novels, essays and stories over the past 30 years, but I've read many books by many fine writers whose deaths were just momentary headlines for me.

Dallas, TX –

Last weekend, I had another lengthy conversation about where I went to high school. When I first moved back to Fort Worth, I thought these discussions were really strange, since no one outside of the city had ever heard of Carter-Riverside, let alone cared. But now these discussions are starting to seem normal. They're all part of a central fact I've recognized about my hometown, that it is supremely sticky.

Dallas, TX –

A cop I once knew used to joke, "What's the difference between a homicide and an aggravated assault?"

"About this much," he'd answer, holding up his thumb and index finger, a half-inch apart.

In other words, only dumb luck left one victim injured and another dead.

(cc) Crashworks (

Dallas, TX – Concern for the economy has grown 58 percent in the three years the Texas Lyceum has conducted its statewide poll on politics and attitudes. But Texans are far more pessimistic about the federal economy than the state outlook as KERA's Shelley Kofler reports.

Dallas, TX –

When Marie Brenner wrote a book called Great Dames about Kay Graham, Pamela Harriman and others, she wanted to publicize it in Dallas at a party featuring great dames of this city. That never happened, but right at the top of my list, as I tried to help, was Carolyn Horchow, who earlier this week reluctantly left a world she loved and that loved her.

Dallas, TX –

There are at least two very good reasons why churches refer to all or part of their principal worship spaces as "sanctuaries."