#MediaMonday – Laurel Morales

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Today’s #MediaMonday comes to us from Laurel Morales, senior field correspondent for KJZZ’s Fronteras Desk.  Laurel and I have worked on a few Northern Arizona stories together.  We haven’t met in-person so I thought it would be fun to have her do one of our Media Monday profiles.

So, Laurel, time to share!

Tell us how you got your start in writing? Tell us your story!

As early as I can remember I told stories to anyone who’d listen. They usually starred my siblings and their adventures lighting the creek on fire, throwing the cat off the roof, and liberating a bucket of crawdads across the kitchen floor.

I started writing plays in the third grade and would recruit the neighbor kids to perform them in the backyard. I have also always kept a journal.

Santa delivered a Sanyo cassette recorder on Christmas of 1982, so I could record toilets flushing, my sister’s sleepover confessions and the entire “St. Elmo’s Fire” soundtrack (dialogue and all).

When forced to choose a job, I became the closest thing I knew to a storyteller — a public radio reporter.

Tell us how you came to start working in Arizona?

I started out as an intern for Mother Jones Magazine and KQED in San Francisco, then finally landed a full-time reporting gig at Minnesota Public Radio. The winters were too brutal for me. So when a friend told me about an All Things Considered host position at KNAU in Flagstaff, I jumped at it.

When I came out for the interview 15 years ago, I had some down time so drove the rental car through Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona. The aspens were ablaze in yellow and I saw a double rainbow over Cathedral Rock. Maybe it was a vortex, who knows? But I fell in love and have been here ever since.

And how did you come to this outlet?

Nine years ago KJZZ got a CPB local journalism center grant to create the Fronteras Desk, a collaboration of stations throughout the southwest covering a veritable news desert. I’m their northern Arizona reporter. Because I’m based in Flagstaff on the edge of the largest tribal nation in the country my beat has become Indian Country.

Tell us about the outlet and types of story pitches you want?

I really love telling the unusual, what people sometimes call quirky stories. I often wind up with the task of breaking down really complicated issues for regional and national audiences.

More recently I’ve stuck my toe in the vast podcasting pool with Earth+Bone and Changing Woman stories about brave people fighting for what’s important to them.

I’ve also had the great opportunity to tell stories that make a difference. When I produced a story about the Navajo water crisis for NPR, the response was overwhelming. Most households in the United States use 100 gallons of water a day. On the Navajo Nation the average is seven gallons. After the story aired, a group working to build water pipelines on the reservation received dozens of donations including a new water truck.

Where did you grow up?

Fort Wayne, Ind.

Favorite type of music?

My favorite bands are Wilco, Sleater Kinney, Brandi Carlile, Black Keys and Calexico. But because I have tween girls, I listen to my fair share of Kids Bop, Taylor Swift and Broadway showtunes.

Favorite color?

Red -- I have a daughter named Scarlett.

Favorite TV shows or movies?

TV - Fleabag, Outlander, OITNB, Handmaid’s Tale

Movies - Il Postino, Raising Arizona, Like Water for Chocolate, Lady Bird

Favorite local restaurants or other haunts?

Shift, Simply Delicious, Pizzicletta and MartAnnes

Least favorite food?

Tripe -- despite my father-in-law’s insistence that I keep trying menudo.

Three things readers would be surprised to know about you?

1.)  My two daughters were born on the same day three years apart.

2.)  I also write fiction.

3.)  I lived in Ecuador the year after I graduated from college and believe in magical realism.

What is the lead time you need for content or pitches?

If it’s a daily or news spot I can take pitches day of but if it’s a feature two weeks is best.

What should (and shouldn’t) people be pitching to you?

Please pitch me stories that have to do with Indian Country, Grand Canyon and northern Arizona though I can pass along stories outside my beat to my colleagues down south.

What is the best way to reach you?

By email: lmorales@kjzz.org



Abbie S. Fink
Abbie S. Fink
Vice President/General Manager Abbie has been doing public relations her whole life…from organizing a picket line in 6th grade to organizing client communications today. She’s passionate about a lot of things, you’ll see. Check out Abbie's full bio

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