Meet your IPC: Sadie Babits

Sadie Babits

Sadie Babits

Name: Sadie Babits

Job: News Director for Boise State Public Radio

Education: B.A. Political Science / International Relations; minor in Mass Communication from Boise State

    Where are you originally from? I’ve lived so many places – Portland, Denver, Washington, D.C. (briefly), Flagstaff, Arizona. But I call Boise my home and I’m originally from Salmon, Idaho, where I grew up.

    What brought you back to Idaho and BSPR? A great opportunity to lead Idaho’s largest public radio newsroom! My husband Nate and I love Boise and he had just received his doctorate and was living in Portland, Oregon. I was an assistant news director in Denver, Colorado and we really wanted to bring our lives back together. BSPR was searching for a new news director and Nate really wanted to open a clinic in Boise. So in 2011, I became the news director at BSPR and Nate launched Trailhead Chiropractic. We are both happy to have roles in this community we both love.

    What draws you most to radio journalism? I’ve always felt that the voice alone carries so much emotion and when you combine it with reporting and storytelling, you have journalism that takes listeners on a journey.

What is the most memorable story you have covered? I’ve been lucky to cover many memorable stories, from Jack Hemingway’s funeral 13 years ago, to the Jarbidge Rebellion in rural Nevada, to covering the Tour de France and the Olympics. So it’s hard to choose. But I will never forget being in Kenya reporting on illegal charcoal production. I met a man living in a tiny village with his wife and 10 kids, barely able to feed his family. The only way he could was to make charcoal, which is illegal in Kenya, and then essentially smuggle it to the market in Nairobi. I can still see his face and the faces of his children. Heart-breaking.

    Who is the most interesting person you’ve interviewed? I’ve interviewed so many interesting people from the leader of the band Churchill to Lance Armstrong – pre-doping scandal – to authors like Alan Heathcock and Craig Childs. So I’m going to go with my most recent interview with Academy Award-winning actress Jodie Foster at the Sun Valley Film Festival. We did the interview in a storage closet at nexStage Theatre in Ketchum. It had been turned into a sort of green room. She was really down to earth and we talked about directing films and why she loves downhill skiing in Sun Valley.

    If you could interview anyone, who would it be and what would you ask them? I would love to meet Bono of U2 fame. I’d ask him about his humanitarian work and how he’s able to stay so relevant after all of these years.

   What are some things BSPR has accomplished in the last year that you’re most proud of? I’m really proud of how our newsroom has grown in the last two years and some of the special projects we’re a part of, including our collaboration with NPR on StateImpact Idaho. I was hired right when BSPR found out it would be one of eight states in the country to be a part of this national-local collaboration. I hired our StateImpact team and launched the project nearly two years ago. We’re pushing forward data driven journalism through this collaboration and providing niche reporting you can’t find anywhere else. I’m proud of the work we’ve done and the stories that we’ve been able to tell digitally and on air.

I’m also happy to say that by the end of this year our news team will be in a new facility that will be a state of the art newsroom complete with new studios. I’m really thankful to be in a position that has me providing input on a new newsroom design, working with our management team on strategic plans, and launching a series of community engagement events in the coming months. I have a dynamic role which means that no day is the same. I see great things for public radio in Idaho and I feel lucky to be a part of it!

    I know you do some arts reporting. What are some hidden gems in Boise (artists, places, music, anything) that people should definitely check out? Boise has an emerging art scene that in the last couple of years has really taken off. There’s so much creative energy and we’re seeing that through events like Treefort Music Fest and Modern Art.

I’m working on a profile right now about artist and illustrator Bill Carman, whose work is currently showing at the Brumfield Gallery in Hyde Park. His work is imaginative and lets you find your own stories in every painting. Also there are some interesting shows at the Linen Building’s Gallery. Artists such as painter Bill Lewis are part of a series of exhibits around the creative process. A show called “Unfinished” just closed where artists like Lewis work to complete unfinished art. Now he’s a part of a new show at the Gallery focused on collaboration.

There’s also a monthly series called BliP happening at Hyde Park books where local authors have live reads of their plays.

Ever had any embarrassing or totally unplanned on-air moments? One of the most embarrassing moments was while I was working in my first radio gig at KSRA in Salmon, Idaho. The general manager at the time wanted me to learn to stay calm in any situation on the air. He proceeded to make funny faces at me while I was on the air one day. I couldn’t keep the laughter in and just busted out laughing live on the air. For those who know me, I have a very loud laugh.

When you’re not working hard or volunteering with the IPC Board, what do you like to do? I absolutely love being outside and I’m a bit of an adrenaline junky. So I spend a lot of time mountain biking, skate skiing in the winter and hiking all year round with my husband Nate and our lab Jacques. I practice yoga and have been known to do a pose or two out in Boise’s Foothills. And I almost always have a couple of books I’m reading.

Anything else unique we should know about you? I’m proud to have grown up in Salmon, Idaho where I had an amazing childhood which included being crowned the 1995 Salmon River Rodeo Queen. I still have my belt buckle and crown.