Kevin Quinn (Economics)
Quinn weighs in to national audience
The radio airwaves and the classroom share something in common for Kevin Quinn (Economics). Both challenge him to explain economics in the simplest terms possible.
“You have to put complicated concepts into language that people who are new to it can understand,” he says.
Quinn, one of the country’s leading sports economists, recently tackled questions about the Packers’ ownership structure for a National Public Radio report. He’s far from new to radio. Each month, Quinn joins host Ben Merens for the live Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) call-in show “At Issue Econ 101.”
“People will ask questions about anything about the economy,” says Quinn. “We are never hurting for people calling in. For the most part, the people who are calling up are really intelligent people who aren’t economists. I think they appreciate the fact that somebody is willing to talk to them about this stuff in plain English.”
Quinn’s relationship with WPR began shortly after he arrived at St. Norbert in 1994. He was invited to appear as a guest economist on a talk show and returned numerous times for guest spots. Two years ago, Merens asked him to do a one-hour show during which listeners could ask simple economic questions.
Quinn, who also hosts the monthly television show “Conversations from St. Norbert College,” says that he finds being the interviewer harder than answering questions. The scary part about radio is not the on-air calls but the e-mails he receives from listeners, he adds.
“You get this 5,000-word e-mail from this person’s point of view, and it’s clear that they’ve had a lot of alone time to think about the issue,” he says. “Unless it’s really outrageous, which is rare, I always try to answer them.”
Quinn says public radio offers a good alternative to the “talking points and sound bites” of other forms of media.
“The service that public radio provides is time to get something more than just a sound bite,” he says. “You can spend an hour or more on an issue and people can call in and be heard. That’s very, very valuable.”
Quinn is committed to WPR as long as they need him.
“I look at this as part of community service. The Norbertines are all about communio,” he says. “Communio is not just what happens on campus. All of us are part of dozens of communities. I’m part of the state of Wisconsin. I’m also a public radio listener. This is my contribution to that community.”
March 1, 2011