Caring for the Whole Community

By Rachel David, photos by Kent Sparkman

Derrick Ginter Derrick Ginter, the general manager of KOHM-FM, Texas Tech's National Public Radio station, not only has a passion for radio communications, but also for serving the public interest.

Ginter, a Texas Tech alumnus, began his career in radio communications after completing an internship in 1996 with Clive Kinghorn, the previous general manager of KOHM-FM and former mass communications faculty member. Ginter became the station's operations director in 1997 and succeeded Kinghorn in 2001.

Ginter has on-air duties as well, including acting as the local host during National Public Radio's Morning Edition and hosting and producing "Music Made for Movies," KOHM's weekly film music program. Ginter also manages several other stations, including KTXT-FM, the former student-run radio station.

Ginter said he does not believe he chose radio or mass communications as a career, but rather the field chose him. Ginter said he always has had a major interest in severe weather and getting information to the public.

In the community, Ginter has been a severe weather spotter for the National Weather Service's SKYWARN program for the last 20 years. He also works as a storm spotter for Ron Roberts at KAMC-TV 28 during the severe weather season on the South Plains.

Ginter said volunteering for storm spotting is another way he serves the public and his interests.

"It is the perfect marriage of interests in radio and severe weather," Ginter said.

Ginter is also a member of the U.S. Army Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS), a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense, which consists of licensed amateur radio operators providing auxiliary or emergency communications on a local, national and international basis.

Ginter's wife, Tamara Ginter, said he has been called to volunteer and help when disasters occur because he has been involved for many years and knows what he is doing.

Tamara Ginter, a senior account processor for the College of Media & Communication, said her husband has not had to participate in any disasters thus far with the Army MARS program, but he has participated in training exercises.

"He's not the only one, but he's one of a small handful that will get out there, get the job done, and get it done right," Tamara Ginter said.

Upon returning to Texas Tech for a master's degree in interdisciplinary studies, with a focus on wind engineering, atmospheric science, and mass communications, Derrick Ginter began working with two associate professors of electronic media and communications, Todd Chambers, Ph.D., the department chair, and Jimmie Reeves, Ph.D.

Both Chambers and Reeves described Ginter as a leader. They said he is passionate, engaging, trustworthy, and community-spirited.

Chambers said Ginter worked for him as a graduate student and taught a course in electronic media operations for several semesters, as well as other courses. Chambers described Ginter as not only a manager of a radio station, but as an educator as well.

Derrick Ginter Ginter said he is excited about the station moving into the new College of Media & Communication Building in Fall 2012, because he is hoping that KOHM-FM will have more exposure to current students and also give the radio station room to expand.

"I am excited to be able to work in a building on campus where they work and do nothing but talk about Texas Tech," Ginter said.

Ginter said Texas Tech helped prepare for him his career because he was able to practice what the professors taught through internships and the student radio station, KTXT-FM. He said he wants to transform KTXT-FM back into a student-run radio station to give current students more opportunities for hands-on practice.

Reeves described Derrick Ginter as a good resource for the electronic media department.

"He's always available and takes it very seriously about coming to the department and contributing in any way to our educational mission," Reeves said.

"It's good to bring someone into your classroom who is in it for the love of it," Reeves said. "He loves what he does, and you have to admire someone who does that and makes those kinds of choices."

Ginter said KOHM-FM is currently affiliated with three other networks, including National Public Radio, and is the first digital radio station in the Lubbock region. The station broadcasts 70,000 watts of power at 89.1 MHz, covering the South Plains.

However, KOHM-FM has not always been so fortunate.

Ginter said early days were tough for KOHM-FM, and the station survives mainly on public support.

"My golden rule to keep KOHM and other stations doing well is: don't screw up what Dr. Kinghorn started," Ginter said.

Chambers said Ginter was the right person for general manager to keep the momentum going for public radio on the South Plains.

On Air sign "Derrick is passionate about serving the public interest, and he has really helped grow and lead KOHM radio – to not only serve the Tech community, but the broader South Plains community," Chambers said.

Chambers said Ginter is good for the Lubbock community, and he hopes people stop and consider what having a station like KOHM-FM on the air means.

Born in Amarillo, Texas, Ginter now calls Lubbock home. He has a tremendous passion for informing the public of news and severe weather, as well as providing entertainment and educational opportunities to better the Lubbock community and the entire South Plains region.

Rachel David is a junior public relations major from Plano, Texas. Kent Sparkman is a senior electronic media and communications major from Slaton, Texas.