Professor hosts WVBU radio show on political activism

Katrina Lee, Staff Writer

It is another Thursday evening that Visiting Assistant Professor of History Jennifer Thomson looks forward to. She walks into the studio, puts on her headphones and talks directly to the microphone, welcoming her listeners to her weekly political talk show “Bucknell: Occupied.”

Running for the second semester now, the show airs on the University’s radio station WVBU every Thursday from 6-7:30 p.m.

Having been a radio DJ during her undergraduate years in college, Thomson was excited to start her own show when she found out that there was a radio station at the University.

“I started to believe that many issues here on campus, [and] national and international issues, were not very widely discussed, so I decided to make it a political talk show,” Thomson said.

The title of the show “Bucknell: Occupied” is directly taken from the Occupy Wall Street protest, which Thomson thinks is not only a catchy name but also evokes the kinds of connections between political, cultural, and economic issues that need to be addressed.

“One of the basic motivations of hosting the show is to encourage students to broaden their horizons and think about political issues from different points of view,” Thomson said. “Then, I hope they will be involved in various forms of political activism that they feel compelling.”

As a history professor who teaches 20th century United States political history, Thomson attempts to make the connection between the past and the present explicit both in her classes and through her show.

“The show is very much about looking at how people today are trying to push back against oppression and change the world in which they live,” Thomson said.

Seeing her show as a resource for those who are interested in thinking about contemporary issues from a more radical and critical perspective, Thomson has always tried to stay with the news cycle when considering topics for her shows every week, with many of her previous shows addressing current issues like the activism of Ferguson and the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as sexual assault and the general culture of misogyny on campus. Thomson says she is thrilled to get into a focused intellectual conversation with her guests, who will sometimes provoke interesting debates on various issues.

Thomson also talks about the situation of the prisoners in nearby United States Penitentiary (USP), Lewisburg as she has a strong community of regular listeners among the inmates. By inviting prison rights activists to share the living conditions and violence faced by prison inmates, Thomson says she wants to let the inmates know that there are people outside the prison walls that care about them.

Thomson also has loyal listeners in faculty members and students, who provide her show with positive feedback. Thomson points out that the show does have a limited audience though, as fewer people now think of the radio as something they want to listen to on a regular basis.

“In general not many people even know there is a radio station on campus,” Thomson said.

She still hopes that as she continues to do the show, it will become something people anticipate and actively engage in.

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