As a runner who loves the rush of finishing a marathon, KFI’s Donald Morrison started his radio career with the intention of becoming a sports announcer. “My first job in radio was as the sportscaster at the student-run station at UCLA. I was on a path to sports, but I got diverted,” Morrison says. In 2001, he applied for a position as a part-time news writer at KFI and found his path changing.
“The news is more unpredictable. Every day is completely different, you don’t know what you’re going to get. Each day has a different pattern and flow of stories. Some days can be slow, and others can be fast, it just depends,” Morrison says. “With sports, on the other hand, you know what’s going to happen; there will be a winner and a loser at the end.” In addition to his role as a news anchor, Morrison also covers the overnight shift. “You can air weirder stories overnight. There’s a very different type of listener overnight. We have a show called Coast to Coast, it’s all about conspiracies.” No matter what time he is on the air, Morrison believes that one of the most important aspects of his job is to be sure that he is catering to the audience that is listening and airing what they will find interesting.
What Morrison is most passionate about, however, is health care stories. “I find all the science-related discoveries very interesting, and I’m fascinated by all the research,” he says. “I like seeing what people come up with to solve health problems. For example, obesity. Now we know what causes it and we are trying to understand how to prevent it. Health care research leads to somewhere.” Part of the challenge of reporting on complicated health care stories is boiling them down to an easy-to-understand clip that airs well over the radio. To do that, Morrison explains that he asks himself how he would understand the story and then thinks about what he would most want to hear about it. “All I would want to know is how something works and how will it affect me.”
Once Morrison has reported on something, chances are the same story will end up on his Twitter page. “Twitter helps you reach a wide audience quickly and you can share stories right away. If you see something happening, Twitter allows you to tell your audience about it immediately.” Morrison also shares his thoughts on how he thinks the radio industry will change in the next five years: “Radio will become more focused; people’s interests will be more drilled down. The basic tenants of radio reporting will still be the same, maybe with more photos and videos.”
Morrison’s passion for the sciences is clear. “If I weren’t working in radio, I think I would go back to school and get an advanced degree in Physics.” If he had the opportunity to interview one person in history Morrison says it would be Ben Franklin. “He was really ahead of his time, he was a progressive thinker. I don’t mean in a political sense, he was a complex and interesting person. It would be fun to get to know him beyond the mythology.”