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Staff Snapshot: LC, storyteller on the air

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When Luisa Cardoza — AKA “LC” — walks through the UC Santa Cruz campus, colleagues and students don’t always recognize her face, but there’s no mistaking her voice. For 17 years, LC has been a volunteer programmer on the air at award-winning campus radio station KZSC, where she currently serves as the business and sponsorship manager.

“I’m a storyteller at heart and I love to hear other people’s stories,” says LC. “At one point in my early college years, I thought I wanted to be a social worker, as I love helping people. Once I realized radio was my passion, though, it seemed natural that the next step for me would be to push myself in a direction that would combine two skills — storytelling and broadcasting.”

After 25 years in Santa Cruz and 11 years on the air at KZSC, LC moved from Santa Cruz to San Francisco, where she was accepted to the KALW Audio Academy, a highly competitive radio journalism program. There, she produced several meaningful segments, including a three-piece story focused on challenges facing the transgender community. “While I identify as a cis-gender, bisexual woman, my wife’s stepfather is transgender, as are several of my dear friends,” says LC. “The ‘T’ in LGBTQ(IA) is often left out of the conversation, marginalized or dismissed.” By highlighting how gendered school bathroom policies and the difficulties of obtaining gender reassignment surgery affected trans people, she hoped to raise awareness and inspire policy change

LC explains that radio’s ability to reach people in their homes and provide them with new perspectives is key. “Radio is not dead — especially non-commercial, public radio, from educational licensees like KZSC and other UC stations to larger stations with affiliations to NPR, PRX, PRI, APM, etc.,” she says. “KZSC is relatively small in terms of staff and budget, but we have a 20,000-watt signal that reaches three-plus counties.”

This broad reach played a crucial role in keeping the UC Santa Cruz campus and neighboring communities informed during the recent wildfires. When KZSC was ordered to evacuate along with the rest of the campus, all programming had to be pre-recorded or played from a digital library. The station’s staff and students joined together to regularly record and update content with the latest public service announcements and directives from Chancellor Cynthia Larive and the Public Information Office. LC also made time to sit down with KALW to participate in an interview on how the evacuations were affecting students and staff.

When she considers how KZSC will move forward in the future, LC believes that partnerships will be key. “I have many ideas about ways in which KZSC, our broadcast class, news department and public affairs programmers could benefit from collaboration with the campus Communications Office,” she says. And, she emphasizes that ongoing support is critical. “We need the support of our community, as well as our university, now more than ever,” she says.

Meet LC

Name: Luisa Cardoza, AKA “LC”

Title: Business and Sponsorship Manager

Department/Unit: Student Success/Student Development and Engagement, KZSC Radio

Location: UC Santa Cruz

When did you start working for UC? In 1996, I was a temp with UC Extension. I’ve worked on- and off-campus since then — from staff training and development to Academic Information Systems, the UC Santa Cruz Ticket Office for performing arts and Shakespeare Santa Cruz. I began working at KZSC as a volunteer on-air programmer in 2003; in 2017 I became an employee.

In five words or less, what do you do for UC? 
Manage income streams for KZSC

Why do you love working for UC? 
I love working with the students — mentoring them and watching them learn. Our campus has such a unique environment, as well: a redwood forest on a ridge overlooking the ocean. How cool is that?

What’s something people don’t know about you? There are a few things! I used to be a beekeeper and know how to ride a motorcycle. I also throw pottery, though many colleagues at KZSC and in our division know that, since I turned them onto the studio I go to.

Who’s your dream dinner guest (living or dead) and why? Mae West. She was such a badass and was one of the first women actors in Hollywood to deal with censorship.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? 
How to negotiate salaries — a very dear friend coached me on the specific language to use: “Based on my skills and  experience, I feel a salary at or above the mid-range would be more appropriate.”

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