Getting Personal: Brian Moline

 

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Each week, we offer a Q&A with a local personality. This week, BRIAN MOLINE, 43, of Savoy, managing editor at WILL and host of 'Morning Drive,' chats with staff writer Paul Wood. Before WILL, Moline was an on-air personality at WDWS/WHMS/WKIO radio, where he won a Silver Dome Award from the Illinois Broadcasters Association for his play-by-play calls of Champaign Central and Centennial football games in 2012.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Mount Auburn, Iowa, a burgeoning metropolis of 150 people. It truly was a town where you knew everyone, and about 20 of them were family members.

What brought you to Champaign? What do you like most about it?

A management job with Borders (R.I.P.) in the spring of 2000. My wife, Karinsa, and I have always liked college towns, and we'd been looking for someplace a bit smaller after fighting St. Louis traffic for a couple of years. We really like the things that a university town has to offer (arts, sports) without the traffic and higher cost of living of a larger city.

What interests you most right now?

I'm an active member of the Second Wind Running Club here in C-U, which is a great asset to runners of all speeds and experience levels. I also play trombone in the Community Center for the Arts big band, which occasionally plays around town. And, of course, with my job, I'm always trying to stay informed on current events, whether it's local, state, national or international news.

How did you get started in broadcasting? Did you work on a high school or college station?

We didn't have a high school station, but I got my first taste of broadcasting through high school speech contest, which had a "radio news" category. From there, I had a jazz show on my college radio station at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., and also worked part time as a reporter and anchor at KIRX-AM.

What's your most memorable moment in broadcasting?

I don't know if I can narrow it down to just one. Some highlights include broadcasting on the statewide Illini Sports Network when Illinois beat Northwestern to clinch the football team's last bowl bid in 2014, as well as calling Centennial's state championship in boys' basketball in 2009. More recently, guest hosting our talk show "The 21st" when the University of Illinois and the Graduate Employees Organization settled their labor impasse while we were doing a live segment on the topic.

Who is the most famous of your interviews?

That's also hard to quantify. But, I've interviewed political columnist George Will, jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Art Garfunkel, among others. As fun as those interviews are, I think I enjoy talking to people here in Champaign-Urbana just as much, if not more.

In the era of "fake news," how do you present WILL as a reliable source of information?

The first challenge is figuring out what people mean when they use that term. Is it a story with a factual error? Is it a story people just don't like? Once you figure that out, then I think it's possible to have a good conversation with most people about any issues they have with a particular story. Along a similar vein, one thing we've begun here at WILL over the last year is our "News and Brews" series of events at Riggs Beer Company, where we bring together reporters and experts on topics like children's mental health, marijuana legalization and education in prisons to answer questions from the community. It's one way we're trying to find out from our audience what stories they think are important, rather than simply telling them what we think is important. It is also a way for our reporters to discuss how they go about reporting stories, which I think helps people understand the reporting process.

Do you miss broadcasting sports?

A few times a year when something exciting is happening, but I don't miss the daily grind and long hours involved.

How do you get up so early? Are you a coffee man?

Set two alarms. Indeed, I'm a coffee drinker. Strong and black.

Do you do a lot of research before interviews?

Yes, whenever possible. Occasionally, you'll have do an interview on very short notice, but when there's time, it's a must in order to learn something new to share with your audience.

Do you have a "guilty pleasure," and what is it?

Potato chips. If there's an open bag around me, it will soon be an empty bag.What book are you reading now? What is your favorite book ever?

"John Quincy Adams: American Visionary," by Fred Kaplan. Ever? That's a tough question, as I'm always reading something. I'll go with "The Black Echo" by Michael Connelly.

What's your favorite sports team?

Chicago Cubs. Probably the reason I'm an optimist by nature.

What was your first job, and how much did you make an hour?

Mowing the lawn for Mount Auburn Savings Bank. I made $20 each time I cut the grass.

What was a pivotal decision in your career, and how did you arrive at that decision?

I did both news and sports in my time at WDWS. As much as I love sports, I decided that it was time to enjoy them as a fan. When the opportunity to host "Morning Edition" for WILL came along, it was simply too good to pass up. And, I still get to scratch that sports itch occasionally in interviews here as well.

Do you have any regrets in your life? What are they?

I think I'll quote Frank Sinatra here: "Regrets, I've had a few, but then again, too few to mention."

Reporter

Paul Wood is a reporter at The News-Gazette. His email is pwood@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@pvawood).