By Salwa Khan
Exploring Genius in the Heart of Texas with Dixie Newnam and Hilda Carpenter
I'm here with Dixie Newnam and Hilda Carpenter, and their show is called Rural Genius. I wanted to start off by asking each of you how you first became interested in radio. So let's start with you, Hilda.
In 2016, uh, right after the flood, the radio station had started and they had set up some equipment with blankets on the wall and all kinds of things. And John Brown, who was the program manager at the time, was looking for people to produce shows and also the content of the shows. And a woman by the name of Mo Wilson was producing the shows for On River Time, and they went Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, uh, and they were looking to add a Friday show, but at that time, Mo Wilson had other things that she needed to do. She was amazing. She taught me how to produce the shows, and that was how I got started with KWVH. I then pitched an idea to John Brown about starting a show, that was basically technology oriented.
I later kind of evolved to be STEAM, or science, technology, engineering, arts and math, because I'm a very big proponent of that kind of education. Anyway, so I started that show. Dixie had joined the On River Time team after one of the ladies needed to go. And I was producing her show and she was fabulous, Dixie Newnam. I was working with her show, and it was right before Christmas and she came in after the show and her eyes were huge and she sort of looked like those peanuts characters with the little parentheses on each side of the eye <laugh> and said, I can't do this. I've got two kids and two businesses and having to find a guest every week was, and it is very difficult to do, to find content and good people to talk to.
So then I pitched the idea to Dixie. I said, well, how about this? If you will come be my co-host, then I will make sure that all you have to do is walk in right at the time that the show is starting. I'll make sure you have a drink like Topo Chico. And then that's how Dixie and I got together and I had started the show and called it Rural Genius. And the idea of that came from, I had published three books under that moniker, and I thought that was probably appropriate because the books and the idea around Rural Genius is I'm not the genius. I look for genius in rural places. So that's how we got started and we've been doing that pretty close to about five or six years.
So Dixie, if I can ask you, how, how did you get interested in radio and, and KWVH?
I went to Baylor undergraduate and my undergraduate degree was telecommunications and the focus was basically radio, television, film. So while I was an undergraduate, I worked for a television station. I did a semester on the college radio station. And so communications has always been something in my background.
Then once I became an attorney, the first few years of my practice in the first five or so, I had a focus that included media clients including both print and radio and television. And so when we moved to Wimberley, I happened to meet Nancy Williams who was doing the On River Time Show at that time, and she invited me on her show as a guest and I've loved it and it was huge fun. And they said, Hey, we're looking for someone to do one of the afternoons. And I said, count me in. And then as Hilda said, between the businesses and the kids and everything else, it just became a little too much, to do my own show. So when Hilda said co-host, I heard sidekick and agreed <laugh> to come on and host with her or help her with her show. And it's been great fun since then. Hilda and I have a great time.
Dixie, what, what can people expect when they tune into Rural Genius?
So, what Hilda said, they can expect a topic that has to do with STEAM and they can usually expect a guest. And the guest is most of the time someone from our community, from the Wimberley Valley area. And it's all people who have shown some sort of genius in their area of expertise. So one week we may have an artist or a gallery owner, and then the next week have someone who's heavily into computer science or another one who may be into finance and math. And so we hit all of those topics within STEAM with a guest. And I like to think that Hilda and I and our guests are usually pretty relaxed and have a little bit of humor around the topics as well. So I like to think that we make it accessible for our listeners, and maybe give them a chuckle along the way.
Hilda, what are the challenges and rewards of doing your show?
Wow. That's a great question. So I think the thing that I have enjoyed the most is the diversity of people that we've had. You know, whether they're from the Austin area or from Houston or, and as Dixie said, mostly the community that are just wicked smart <laugh>. We have one gentleman that worked with NASA and JPL, and then we have other people that have started their businesses and lots of education. I think the other thing that I've learned is that it's just such an amazing community that we serve.
I mean, genius according to psychologists, and, and that's my background as well as technology is usually rated by IQ. And so 150 IQ is considered genius, 130, 150 IQ. But these people are really ordinary people and they may or may not have that high of an IQ or they may have way higher an IQ. And it's just fascinating and the people are just amazing that we have on their stories, how they look at the world through the STEAM lens is just very interesting.
Dixie, do you have anything to add to that?
I would echo everything Hilda's saying. I don't find it to be a challenge. I just find it to be fun and I get to spend time with my best friend and I get to meet amazing people. And like Hilda said, they have the coolest backgrounds and they've done the neatest things and stuff that we've never even realized were careers. For example, one of our guest Pat Rawlings who's on periodically, he does artwork for NASA, and I didn't even know that was a thing before I met Pat. And he is so interesting, fascinating to listen to. So I think it's all upside, and it's a lot of fun.
Anything else that we should say about Rural Genius?
Well, one of the things I can tell you is people will stop me in the grocery store or like at Market Day, I volunteer there and they'll go, I listen to your show all the time. So that makes me feel really good that Dixie and I are really bringing content that is entertaining. It's fun. We always laugh and we have great on-air chemistry. Well, we are best friends.