An Overland Park native, Ben Leeper is the production director at KJHK. Under that role, he oversees the staff that produces weekly rotator pieces and announcements that we hear on the radio. He joined KJHK the first semester of his freshman year as part of the production staff, which he now directs. During his second semester that year, he also did an overnight, pre-recorded DJ shift (Saturdays, from midnight to 3 a.m.).
Angie Baldelomar: What are five words you’d use to describe yourself?
Ben Leeper: Open-minded, friendly, and quiet. Oh, and I thought of a five-word sentence: I seek to challenge myself.
AB: If you could travel back in time, what time period would you choose and why?
BL: My answer would have to be the time of the American Revolution. It’s always been something that intrigued me, in particular getting to know a lot of the founding fathers for the nation really seems something I could enjoy. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have dinner with George Washington?
AB: So, do you like Hamilton, the musical?
BL: Oh goodness, yeah. I love musical theaters and performing arts in general. I also love history, so Hamilton was a great way to combine the two!
AB: What hobbies do you have?
BL: Being a political science and microbiology major, there’s really no overlap between those and radio station activities. I think what really got me started and interested here is probably my outside hobby of theater and professional theater work. I do pro-audio for some theater companies around the Kansas City area. I started doing that in high school and it very much evolved once I got to college into wanting to start working here at the radio station.
AB: How did you end up with majors so different from each other?
BL: When I was younger, I always thought I wanted to be an engineer, but when I found out how much math courses engineering took, I think i decided, “I’ll just go pre-med instead”. I started preparing to take a lot of pre-med courses in high school, I started shadowing doctors and physicians. I had maybe 150 to 200 plus hours of physicians’ shadowing time before I got to college, which is huge. That’s where my microbiology major came from. Then, when I got here and started delving into the sciences, I felt like I was really interested in learning about science, but I wasn’t interested in taking that to the next level and actually practicing science or becoming a physician. Out of stubbornness, I decided to keep the microbiology major and add on a political science major because I love talking about current events and politics in our country and other countries.
AB: How would you describe the type of music you listen to?
BL: The music that I listen to changes on a whim, and it varies from day to day. There’s never one set genre that I really listen to. Things that I don’t really listen to a whole lot probably include hip-hop or rap, or anything that makes it on to the top forty on radio stations. That’s never been my thing. I really enjoy a lot of indie and experimental alternative music artists who really aren’t afraid to try something new with their music. Any artist that I find that encapsulates that idea of trying something new with a very well-practiced medium as music, that’s the kind of music I enjoy the most.
AB: If you could be an animal, what animal would you be and why?
BL: I’d probably want to be a raven or a crow mostly because I really like the idea of flying around, getting a bird’s eye view of my surroundings. But also, ravens and crows tend to be really intelligent animals for birds.
AB: What is your favorite smell?
BL: I really enjoyed that after-rain kind of smell. Like in the afternoon, after a light rain, I like opening my windows, and letting in that cool breeze.
AB: What type of music has most influenced you?
BL: Probably anything from the 80s really. I listen to a lot of older music too, so even before the 80s. I listen to a lot of music that came around and about the Vietnam War. It was music that was written to send a message and, while I don’t listen to that kind of music as much nowadays, it’s definitely the kind of music that I would say inspire me in a way or really started me to think along those lines that engage me in what I’m studying now.