|Kim Hyun-jung both directs and presents a social issue radio show under her name. Photo provided by Kim Hyun-jung.
Until late at night, Kim Hyun-jung, a producer and an anchor of a Christian Broadcasting System radio station, is still busy contacting an interviewee for broadcasting tomorrow. Having a morning radio program that discusses current social issues under her own name, Kim Hyung-jung’s News Show, producer Kim selects and looks for topics and interviewees that listeners would be most curious about. Thus, she often changes the whole program in the middle of the night if a new event occurs during the day. As a result, her show has been accepted as the best radio program that directly addresses hottest issue of the day and solves audience’s curiosity over ten years.
Although there are now many radio programs that discuss social issues in a similar format, Kim’s show has had unique and original aspects from the beginning. One of the most noticeable features that especially distinguished the show when it first started 10 years ago was that Kim is both the producer and MC of the program.
“Since elementary school, I have firmly wanted to be a director, a director of a music program at radio station, in particular,” Kim said. “Entering in CBS, I finally got to work as a director of a music program which I found very fulfilling as a music lover.”
However, her current position was made rather on coincidence. She had to do the opening of the music show for several times because the MC could not make the time. Her boss at the radio station found her voice very appropriate as an anchor and recommended her to host a social program whose anchor at that time took a vacation. From then, she was made a director and an anchor of a new social program.
“I often describe myself as a singer-songwriter because I both design and present the show,” Kim explained. “10 years ago, social programs were mostly dominated by male anchors in their 40s or 50s and female anchor of age 30s was relatively rare. Thus, I tried to approach the audience in a humble and familiar way, avoiding difficult words.”
However, biggest strength of Kim comes from her soft yet piercing way of running the show. She is widely known for treating interviewees in a humane and relaxing way but throwing straightforward questions that reveal the essence of the issue.
“One thing that I always abide is knowing more about the case than the interviewee,” Kim explained. “In that way, I can prevent the interviews from straying away from the very heart of the matters. I read all the materials related to the issue before going into the interview. And I set up more than 20 scenarios of expected answers prior to the interview.”
The combination of tender and comfortable voice and shrewd questions is Kim’s unique strength that gained the audience’s trust.
“I think there exist both a rational part and an emotional part that make me love both social program and music program,” Kim described. “This coexistence and balance, I think, is what enables the way I lead the program.”
Going through countless interviews for 10 years, she recalls one interview as the most rewarding moment.
“There was a tragic incident in which a soldier who was actually suffering from meningitis died after being prescribed of Tylenol while serving in the army,” Kim recalled. “Accidental deaths and injuries in the army have been a very serious problem that repeatedly occurs in a large number. I thought that the most powerful way to deliver this news to the audience is through the direct victim of the case. Believing that the bereaved must have something to say to the world, I contacted the father of the dead soldier everyday for a week.”
However, it was hard to bring the father who just lost his son to the studio. This even angered him at first. Kim earnestly asked him to use her program as a channel to prevent similar further accidents. He finally answered Kim’s constant request and described the whole process in a composed manner.
“He cried, I cried and staffs in the studio cried,” Kim said. “I got so many messages from the audience saying that they could not help themselves but crying. We got so much wholehearted feedback and comments from the audience that the military announced to reexamine medical system in the army. Then, I got a call from the father saying thank you. He now works as a civil activist solving problems that he experienced.”
Talking about her personal life, Kim admits that it is still very hard to maintain both career and family.
“It is painful to admit that still in Korean society, a sacrifice of another woman either the mother or nanny is needed to support a woman’s professional career,” Kim said. “It is my hope to change such ground while I am still working. As media field is especially competitive, I want to set a good example for younger females who want to pursue similar path.”
Kim stressed devotion to what you truly desire to do as a solution to overcome such realistic hindrances.
“Do not calculate whether the job would be manageable while having a family,” Kim emphasized. “All jobs get difficult to manage at one point. Only if you truly have passion in the job, you have motivation to continue the work. Thus, I want to stress to find what you really want and just pursue it.”