Caroline Ballard | KUER 90.1

Caroline Ballard

All Things Considered Host

Caroline Ballard is a central Virginia native and a graduate of the Columbia Journalism School. Ever since 2014 – to her delight and the dismay of her East Coast family and friends – she has steadily moved further west. For five years she served as Morning Edition host at Wyoming Public Radio, as well as its newsroom editor and host of the podcast HumaNature. She earned two PRNDI (Public Radio News Directors Inc.) awards for Best Podcast for her work as lead producer on episodes of the show. In 2016, her reporting project Women Run the West, which examined the representation of women in western politics, was selected to be a part of the first NPR Story Lab. Caroline became KUER’s All Things Considered host in August 2019. When she’s not behind the mic, you can find her spending time with her husband and her rescue pup Scrappy, and cooking recipes that are far too complicated for her skill level.

Ways to Connect

Photo of milky way galaxy over Zion National Park.
adogslifephoto /

A decades-long project called the Sloan Digital Sky Survey has produced a new 3D map of the universe, the largest ever created. Cosmologist Kyle Dawson of the University of Utah is the principal investigator for the survey’s latest iteration, the extended Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey, or eBOSS.

Photo illustration of people wearing protective facial masks
Lena_Datsiuk / iStock

A research team at Brigham Young University has put together a guide to make sense of the science behind masks. Spoiler alert — you should be wearing them. Assistant professor of ecosystem ecology Dr. Ben Abbott told KUER’s Caroline Ballard how the review came about.

KUER file

In his decade in office, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill estimates he has reviewed nearly 100 uses of deadly force by police officers. In his most recent review, he cleared the officers who shot and killed Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal on May 23. Gill has ruled only a few of the killings unjustified though.

Photo of a row of colorful houses
Jason Finn via iStock

Homeownership among Black Americans is at its lowest level since 1968. That’s according to a new study out of Brigham Young University and published in the journal Race and Social Problems. As of last year, just 41% of Black Americans owned homes, compared to nearly 75% of white Americans. KUER’s Caroline Ballard spoke with the study’s author, assistant professor of sociology at BYU, Jacob Rugh, about the implications of those numbers. 

Photo of a mail-in ballot
Elaine Clark / KUER

Tuesday is Utah’s primary election, but because of COVID-19 it looks fairly different. No lines to polling places, voting booths or “I Voted” stickers — because the primary election is being conducted almost entirely by mail. Utah has embraced mail-in voting in the past, but never on this scale. To better understand what the lasting impact of this could be, KUER’s Caroline Ballard spoke with Marie Paxton Staniforth, an assistant professor of political science at Westminster College in Salt Lake City. 

Photo of a woman standing in a crowd of people holding a sign that says miss utah supports equal rights for all byu students
Rachel Slawson's Instagram account

Pageants have a reputation of being a traditional bastion of who and what a woman should be — but a winner this year is breaking the mold. In January, Rachel Slawson was crowned Miss Utah USA. She is the first ever openly queer state titleholder for the Miss USA pageant. KUER’s Caroline Ballard caught up with her this Pride Month to talk about what the last few months have been like.

Photo of Monument Valley in Utah.
Erik Neumann / KUER

The Navajo Nation is one of the hardest hit areas in the country by COVID-19. The reasons for that are complicated and bound up in years of history. One person trying to make sense of it is Farina King, a citizen of the Navajo Nation and a professor at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma.

Illustration of people waiting in line wearing medical masks and two medical workers standing nearby
gmast3r via iStock

For months, the Utah Department of Health has released daily statistics on COVID-19. To find out which numbers are most important to understand the outbreak, KUER’s Caroline Ballard spoke with Dr. Andrew Pavia, who has worked in pandemic preparedness and serves on a number of COVID-19 task forces for Utah’s hospitals.

Image of black squares.
Renee Bright / KUER

If you’ve been on social media in the past few days, you might have seen a flood of black squares in support of the Black Lives Matter movement ... and then criticism of those black squares that they were misguided or just for show. There’s a term for that: “slacktivism.” 

Photo of a group of protesters facing a line of police.
Elaine Clark / KUER

People flooded the streets of Salt Lake City Saturday to protest the in-custody death of George Floyd. One of them was Shea Freedom, a musician and activist based in Salt Lake City. KUER’s Caroline Ballard caught up with him on Sunday to hear about his experience.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Caroline Ballard: How has your experience influenced how you think about the unique intersection of civil rights & LGBTQ rights?

Photo of a red and black playstation controller
Ross Terrell / KUER

Video games have been a welcome distraction for many people while social distancing, but for a few they can create problems, too. A new study from Brigham Young University looked at video game addiction over the course of six years. 

Photo of Angela Dunn speaking into a microphone
Pool photo

It’s been nearly two months since Utah’s first confirmed case of COVID-19. Since then, life has changed dramatically with extensive social distancing, school closures and more than 5,000 cases. Friday though, the state shifted from its “red” or high risk response phase to “orange,” or moderate. 

Photo of people wearing personal protective equipment
Courtesy of Jenna Malone

New York City is the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., and medical workers around the country are flocking there to help care for patients. KUER’s Caroline Ballard spoke with Jenna Malone, an Intermountain Healthcare Physician Assistant from Brighton, Utah. Malone is halfway through a two-week stint in a Queens hospital.

Photo illustration showing a piggy bank and dollar bills
401(K) 2012 via Creative Commons

This week, Utahns began receiving stimulus checks from the federal government. To get some expert advice on how people can best use that money, KUER’s Caroline Ballard spoke with Amanda Christensen, a financial counselor and editor of the Utah Money Moms blog

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Caroline Ballard: How good are people, generally, at managing their money?

Illustration of graduation caps falling through the air
Yakobchuk via iStock

For high school seniors, spring is usually a time for celebration — graduations, parties and special events to recognize their achievements. But not this year. Many once-in-a-lifetime events have been postponed or canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. To learn more about how to deal with the loss of important life events, KUER’s Caroline Ballard talked with Sara Lafkas, an assistant professor of social work at Utah Valley University who runs a small practice in Orem. 

Illustration showing letters going into a pencil
Pict Rider via iStock

With all that’s going on right now, it may be more important than ever to remember to take a beat and appreciate something beautiful — even if that’s just a few lines of poetry. April is national poetry month, and to mark the occasion KUER’s Caroline Ballard spoke with Utah poet Katharine Coles. 

Photo of the salt lake city downtown library
Brian Grimmett

For entertainment during social distancing, you might be relying on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Disney+, but what about your local library?

Photo of medical gloves and a mask
Yevhenii Orlov via iStock

For more recent reporting about the science behind masks, read Caroline Ballard's July 20 interview with Dr. Ben Abbott, "BYU Researcher Says The Science Is Crystal Clear: Wear A Mask"

Proper protection for health care workers is crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic, but supplies are running low. To learn more about the basics of personal protective equipment, KUER’s Caroline Ballard spoke with Dr. Rachael Jones, an industrial hygiene expert who teaches at the University of Utah.

Since people in Utah began widely practicing social distancing a few weeks ago, local law enforcement has reported a spike in domestic violence calls. But that number only reflects part of the problem, since many people don’t report abuse to police. KUER’s Caroline Ballard spoke with Jennifer Oxborrow, the executive director of the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, who says the global pandemic is intensifying abusive relationships.

Photo of Intermountain Healthcare Hospital
Brian Albers / KUER

While earthquakes may have jumped to the top of many Utahns’ minds following Wednesday’s event, we are still in the middle of a pandemic, with governments trying to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19. More testing, more health orders, and more anxiety. To help wrap up the week, KUER’s Caroline Ballard was joined by news editor Ross Terrell. 

Drawing of a man sitting down hugging his knees

Between a global pandemic and earthquakes, the times we live in can feel overwhelming. Social distancing is hard — maybe mentally most of all. KUER’s Caroline Ballard spoke with Utah Psychological Association President Dr. Kirt Cundick from his practice in Richfield. They talked about what people can do to best manage stress and anxiety.

A map of the segments
U.S. Geological Survey

On Wednesday, a 5.7 magnitude earthquake shook the Salt Lake Valley. To help explain the science behind this event, KUER’s Caroline Ballard turned to Dr. Jamie Farrell, a seismologist and research professor at the University of Utah. 

Photo of the Utah state capitol building at night
Brian Albers / KUER

Utah's legislative session wrapped up Thursday night. Lawmakers passed a $20 billion budget and 510 bills over the past 45 days. 

Photo of the Utah State Seal.
Cory Dinter for KUER

Courts around the country have handed down big wins for anti-abortion laws the past several years. Many conservative states, including Utah, have used those cases to pursue similar laws. This year, three major abortion bills are working their way through the Utah legislature, all based on recent court decisions or an anticipated court decisions. 

Photo of the inside of the Utah Capitol building.
KUER file

There’s less than a week left in Utah’s legislative session, which means lawmakers are busy trying to pass bills before the clock runs out at midnight Thursday, Mar. 12. 

Photo of people watching election results on a TV
Brian Albers / KUER

In politics, Utah leans heavily Republican. But it’s Democrats that are in the spotlight this Super Tuesday. To get more historical context on today’s primary, KUER’s Caroline Ballard spoke with BYU Emeritus Professor of Political Science David Magleby.

stevebott / Flickr

After changes to controversial superdelegate rules, the role of delegates in the Democratic Party is evolving. KUER’s Caroline Ballard spoke with University of Utah political science professor Matthew Burbank about what that means for the upcoming Democratic Convention. 

Photo of a polling place at a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City
Sonja Hutson / KUER

Tuesday was the first time Utah participated in Super Tuesday. To get a better picture of everything in play in the primary, KUER’s Caroline Ballard spoke with University of Utah political science professor Matthew Burbank. 

Photo of a yurt
National Park Service

Utah lawmakers are picking up speed, moving lots of bills through the state Legislature. This week, the news was dominated by a bill essentially decriminalizing consensual polygamy, a $35 million affordable housing bill, and lawmakers coming to a compromise over revisions to an anti-gerrymandering law. KUER's Caroline Ballard met with political reporter Sonja Hutson in the Capitol Press Room to go over some other stories you may have missed. 

Photo of two golf carts
Courtesy of Marco Verch Professional Photographer and Speaker via <a href="">Flickr</a> / View <a href="">original photo</a> and <a href="">Creative Commons license</a>.

We’re more than halfway through the Utah legislative session, and lots of bills have been making big headlines in the state. But with just 45 days, there are probably more than a few that you may have missed. KUER’s Caroline Ballard went to the state Capitol pressroom to catch up with political reporter Sonja Hutson.