[Photo courtesy of Haley Witt]
Project Social is a weekly radio show on KXSU 102.1 FM hosted by Haley Witt, a first-year journalism major at Seattle University with a passion for connecting with people around her. Haley comes from Phoenix, Arizona (she summed it up with “very warm”). Moving to a new city, she wanted to find a way to meet new people. More than that, though, Haley was intent on creating a sense of community on campus and helping others get to know each other. And thus, Project Social was born, which you can tune in to on the radio (or at kxsu.org) from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday evenings.
Haley was drawn to Seattle University in part by the weather and its small size, contrasting with the way her local school, Arizona State University, can swallow people up. Once she got here, she did what she likes to do best: meet people and form connections. From what I saw as I spoke to her, Haley has the perfect personality for what she does. She’s a skilled conversationalist, and always has a new insight to share.
Haley knew she wanted to have people live on the show to build community, but she originally had trouble finding suitable candidates. She didn’t fare so well when approaching random folks out of the blue at the school eateries, so Haley decided to contact local artists and bands from Seattle University, since she loves sharing and talking about art with others. Doing so unlocked Project Social’s true potential, and she now has a Seattle University student or other local figure on during every show for a short interview. As a talk show, Haley says Project Social is inspired by another of KXSU’s shows: The Late Late Show with Bella and Craig, which I previously covered here. Above all, though, she seeks to build community with people, and inspire her audience to do the same.
Her Project Social usually involves about 40 minutes of any music Haley feels like playing, and then goes to 20 minutes of interviewing her guest. When I observed her show, she held a special interview on-air with local band COSMOS, the winner of the 2016 MoPOP Sound Off! competition. Unlike her usual process, Hayley interviewed a few members of the band earlier in the week to preview questions and record their answers. She then created a playlist for the show based on their answers, and the band members came to the studio to give the gist of their responses while on the air with her. Preferring to kill small talk (because who honestly likes small talk?), Project Social runs deep with questions that go below the surface, including guests’ thoughts on love and their favorite feeling.
Talking with Campana, Meno, and Pants of COSMOS like they were all old friends, Project Social transitioned from conversation to her curated songs, and then back again. The band members discussed their artistic inspirations, and Hayley also asked about their favorite feelings in general (Campana replied with “performing on stage,” and the others agreed, but time ran out before they could share). Side-note: the band members also mentioned their newest release, Moonlight, an album out on March 28, 2017. It’s the largest project released since their victory at last year’s Sound Off! competition. Be sure to check it out and support our local artists!
Haley’s biggest challenge in growing Project Social over the past few months has been fostering other people’s excitement for the show (she certainly doesn’t lack enthusiasm herself). As a first-time show host, she’s done well in establishing herself as a credible and noteworthy voice through her work alone, though eliciting honest engagement from her audience and guests has at times been difficult, and can be especially awkward on the air, where mismatched levels of enthusiasm are easy to hear.
Aside from encouraging greater audience participation, looking to the future, Haley would like to expand her work in radio. “I love storytelling radio and learning about people’s personal stories, and music radio (which includes Project Social) is my current outlet for exploring such content,” she mentions, though she also notes that she “would like to explore other longer-form options that let me go deeper into my content.” Podcasts could be an option, which would resemble an NPR-type show (perhaps a la Ira Glass). Whatever Hayley works on, though, she looks forward to continuing her work with radio during the rest of her time at SU.
Keep an ear out for Project Social with Haley Witt on Saturday evenings from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. on KXSU 102.1FM, or online at kxsu.org. Until next time!
JOSH GEST | Not social enough | KXSU Radio Reporter