Monday, April 23, 2018

Rural Iowa radio's Leonard dubbed 'Trumpland translator' for interviews and essays about what rural Americans think

Leonard (Register photo by Rodney White)
In an age where urban journalism drives the national conversation, a small-town Iowa radio guy has tpbeen dubbed the "Trumpland translator." That's what big-city folks call Bob Leonard, the news director for KNIA and KRLS in Knoxville and Pella in rural Iowa. Following Trump's 2016 win, urban journalists scrambled to understand more about rural America's concerns. Leonard's radio interviews with locals, along with TV appearances and opinion pieces in national platforms like Salon and The New York Times, have provided much-welcomed insights into rural values and motivations. "In his role as Trumpland Translator, Ph.D., he studies rural conservatives in a county where 61 percent of voters chose Trump," Mike Kilen reports for the Des Moines Register.

Leonard, who says he leans liberal and hates Trump, says he found his niche by listening to people and not assuming they're stupid. "He's not writing to change minds, he said, but to explore what they think," Kilen reports. His anthropological approach is no accident; Leonard has a Ph.D. in anthropology and taught it at the University of New Mexico.

Though his interviews with locals help illuminate rural Iowa for urban denizens, they also help open eyes closer to home. Megan Suhr, chairwoman of the Marion County Democratic Party, said Leonard's pieces help her understand neighboring Republicans better. "I don't always agree with his conclusions of rural Iowa," she told Kilen. "But he does make me more patient with others in my community."

No comments: