While most of us canceled travel plans and hunkered down, Chris Polansky bought a van, packed up his belongs and his trusty dog, Trout, and drove half-way across the country to become our new Morning Edition Host and News Reporter. In healthier times, we would have thrown a little get-together so you could meet him. In lieu of that, we stayed WAY far away and asked our newest staff member a few questions:
Public Radio Tulsa: Tell us a little about yourself, Chris.
Chris Polansky: Hey, Tulsa! I was born and raised in New Jersey and have spent most of the last ten years in New York City. I studied urban planning and policy in undergrad and got a master’s in journalism, both at the City University of New York. I love working in public radio — my most recent stint was as a general assignment reporter at Utah Public Radio in Logan, Utah, due north of Salt Lake City just before the Idaho border. I’ve also had work in Gothamist/WNYC and on the NPR national newscast.
PRT: Will this be your first trip to Oklahoma?
CP: It’ll be my first time living here, but I’ve spent somewhere around two weeks collectively here as a visitor. I did two tours of service with Bike & Build, a nonprofit that sends young adults cycling coast-to-coast in service of affordable housing efforts. Both trips crossed Oklahoma. We volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in Tulsa and Bartlesville, and we visited and stayed with church communities in towns across the state, from Afton to Grove to Ponca City to Yukon.
PRT: You're joining Public Radio Tulsa in the midst of a public health crisis and probably the biggest story of your generation. You'll have to hit the ground here running, yes?
CP: Yep! A veteran journalist sent me off with this message: “Best of luck as you help cover what will likely be the biggest story of any of our lifetimes.” I already know a few folks who’ve tested positive for the virus, and my closest friend is an emergency room doctor in NYC. (Don’t worry, I’ve been self-quarantining for weeks.) It’s heavy, but I’m as up to the challenge as I can be and I’m proud of the work journalists are doing to cover it accurately and responsibly.
PRT: When you're not covering news, what do you do for fun?
CP: I love playing baseball (poorly), racquetball (a little better), and ping pong (my best “sport”). I spend a lot of time following Mets baseball, and try to get away often to go hiking and camping with my dog, Trout (full name Trout Fishing in America, for the Richard Brautigan novel). I still volunteer with Habitat as often as I can. My favorite audio programs are Reveal and the Gimlet podcast “Heavyweight.” Looking forward to getting to know and becoming part of the Public Radio Tulsa community.