Stan Bunger, Award-Winning Multimedia Journalist, Speaks to American Journalism students


Stan Bunger talks with Saint Mary’s student Kiana Lei Yap. (Courtesy of Grace Becker

By Kimi Schiefer

KCBS’s Stan Bunger visited Professor Virginia Prior’s American Journalism class, April 11, fielding questions and tracing his journey from undergraduate to morning news anchor. Bunger has been working with KCBS since he was 25 years old and has garnered critical acclaim for his reporting, including a Peabody Award for his coverage of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

A theme of industry change was foreshadowed by Bunger’s reflection of his experience in the Loma Prieta earthquake, recalling how so many stations were left without power at the mercy of generators. In the early stages of its formation as a news station, KCBS was made up of announcers from the old forms of radio who had to learn to become news anchors, and the form has continually changed throughout the years to favor news over music. At this stage in the game, “we literally are an all-news, all day, all night, 24/7 [station],” said Bunger.

Bunger’s description of the changing role of the reporter echoed many sentiments explored in producer Tim O’Rourke’s recent visit. At one time, anchors were simply handed papers to read reports from, but now a reporter is a “real-time gatherer and disseminator of information” and “multimedia journalist” that must exhibit impeccable control and timing.

“It’s a highwire live act with no net,” said Bunger.

He also offered some insight on the average KCBS listener. He noted that the average listener tunes in for 45 minutes, and the station has found that the two most popular categories for podcasts are true crime and history. The ideal podcast length matches the length of the average commute or workout, and Bunger advised students to tailor their podcasts with this criteria in mind.

Bunger then provided a look into the “back door” of the KCBS website, something that the station recently gained control of due to no longer owned by CBS. He displayed various audio files, explaining how the pieces were edited and embedded into the website. Throughout his talk and question-and-answer session, the students were able to see various different aspects of journalism at work, as well as reflect on what the future of the rapidly-changing industry may look like further down the road.

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