“Good morning from KUAR in Little Rock. I’m Daniel Breen.”

 

To almost anyone who has heard those words during a morning commute, Daniel Breen, news director at Little Rock Public Radio, sounds like someone for whom speaking into a microphone at a studio comes as naturally as breathing. However, Breen said, that was not always the case.

 

“I was painfully shy when I first started doing journalism, but getting out of my comfort zone has helped me immensely,” he said. “In our line of work, you have to do that fairly routinely in order to do your job correctly, so it’s definitely helped me become more adaptable.”

 

Breen started as a writer and editor at his high school newspaper before interning at Little Rock Public Radio while attending the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. 

 

“I originally studied music in college,” he said. “I quickly realized that wasn’t for me, so I transferred to UA Little Rock as a mass communication/journalism major.”

 

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After spending a few semesters as an intern, Breen was hired as a part-time reporter and weekly anchor. He anchored “All Things Considered” and “Morning Edition” before assuming his current role as news director about a year ago.

 

Breen now oversees all the outlet’s news coverage, from daily newscasts to longer features and special projects. He also co-hosts the weekly “Arkansas Newswrap” show and hosts the quarterly “Issues that Matter” discussion series. 

 

In addition, he is currently working on “America Amplified,” a project to boost community engagement in the station’s coverage of the upcoming elections.

 

“Most of our reporting focuses on politics since we’re the state capital, but we also cover education, health care, city government, agriculture — you name it,” he said. 

 

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Little Rock Public Radio is an affiliate of National Public Radio, and Breen said he was thrilled to help bring a live edition of NPR’s “Code Switch,” a podcast about race, to Little Rock last year. 

 

“I loved getting to work with their team to craft an episode that highlights Little Rock’s complex racial history and how the past still informs policy decisions to this day,” he said.

 

He said he is also proud to have covered the March 2023 tornado in Little Rock, especially since he and colleague Josie Lenora were the only members of the news staff at the time, which made covering the severe weather event even more of a challenge.

 

“It was also the first time a news story hit close to home since the worst of the damage was very close to where I grew up and where my parents still live,” he said. “It was an exhausting few weeks, but it felt really good to make a difference and help out with the relief efforts any way we could.”

 

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He added that talking to listeners about the issues that affect them is a highlight of his work.

 

“It’s something new every day,” he said. “I love that it challenges me to get outside of my comfort zone and talk to so many interesting people I’d probably never have met otherwise. I’m also super proud of the amazingly supportive work environment my colleagues and I have built over the years.”

 

News organizations often suffer from a lack of staff and resources, he said, and he is glad that Little Rock Public Radio has been able to grow its news staff since he has been on board.

 

He advised up-and-coming journalists to read, write and learn as much as possible, take classes about subjects they are interested in covering, and pursue every opportunity that comes their way. If a job does not work out, that is OK, he said.

 

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“I would say don’t go into it with any sort of preconceived notion about what you want to do,” he said. “There’s a lot more to journalism than just newspapers and TV, and a lot that goes on behind the scenes of what you eventually end up seeing, reading or hearing.”

 

An active member of the community, Breen enjoys speaking to classes and hosting public forums and political debates. He is also the faculty advisor to UA Little Rock’s student newspaper, the Forum. 

 

As news director at Little Rock Public Radio, he added that he would like to see the station expand its newsroom and audience.

 

“I’m constantly inspired by the great journalism that other news outlets in central Arkansas are churning out, and I’d love for Little Rock Public Radio to have a higher profile in the news media landscape,” he said. “I’d like to see us become more of an essential resource, more or less a conduit between people who maybe don’t always see themselves in the news and the people who are making the decisions that affect their everyday lives.”

 

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