Friday, August 12, 2011

Interview with Jill Sheets, Penguin Tracks Program, Radio Station KOPN in Columbia

I’m pleased to have Jill Sheets from Community Radio station KOPN 89.5 fm in Columbia, MO, as my special guest today. I learned about Jill and her program from Sylvia Forbes, a writing friend. In Jill's interview she discusses how she got started in public radio and how writers who want to appear on her show can to contact her.

Donna: Welcome, Jill. I’m thrilled to have you as my guest today. Please tell us a bit about yourself--how you got started, how long you've been on radio--anything you're comfortable sharing.

Jill: I am 21 and holding (that means I am almost 36). I have finally found the man of my dreams and we have been married for close to 6 years. We have an 11 year old daughter Heather and hopefully soon we will be able to add to our family. My family and I are involved with our church. My husband and I teach Sunday school and we teach at Awana. My daughter and I are in choir. When I am not at work I am writing, watching TV and spending time with my family. I can not remember when I started volunteering at KOPN, but I know that it has to be over 5 years.

In 2008, Salem and I started doing Anything Goes once a month. Due to work Salem had to leave our show, but I continue playing music and interviews. Slowly I turned my show into music that is song by singers that are 21 and younger and interviewing authors – ones that they love and new ones that had books coming out. Around 2010, Penguin Tracks had a permit spot on every Fridays from 4 to 6 pm CST.

Donna: Sounds like you have a busy and rewarding life. I love the name of your radio program. How did you come up with the name Penguin Tracks?

Jill: It took me awhile to come up with the name. I went around asking people. Making a joke because I love penguins I said Penguin Tracks and a friend was taking me serious and like it. So that is how I came up with the name. Penguin because I love Penguins and Tracks because I love music.

Donna: What can you tell us about Penguin Tracks and KOPN?

Jill: Penguin Tracks is a music/interview show. Most of the music that is played on my show is from singers that are 21 and younger. I interview children’s authors and Young adult authors, along with singers and actor and actresses.

Donna: Sounds great. Where is the station located?

Jill: KOPN is located in downtown Columbia, Mo. We have been in the same building since 1972 and KOPN went on the air March 3, 1973

Donna: When is your program aired?

Jill: Penguin Tracks in on every Friday. From 4:00 to 6:00 pm CST.

Donna: Approximately how far does your broadcast reach?

Jill: Our broadcast range is officially 40 miles in every direction, but we have reached 70 miles. You can also hear us on the web at

Donna: My husband and I have a country place in Osage County about 60 miles from Columbia, so I’ll have to check it out when I’m there. Is there any other pertinent information about your show or KOPN?

Jill: KOPN is a Community radio station. We mostly run on volunteers and we would not be able to do it with out them. 89.5 KOPN also has a wide range of music and talk programs. I feel that there is a show for everyone here. Also, Penguin Tracks is on Facebook. If you type in Penguin Tracks in the search it should come up. I try to update it as much as I can. I post about up and coming interviews and news. Along with what is on my mind or question I have for the audience. You can also e-mail

Donna: Who is your primary audience?

Jill: My target audience is 8 to 18 year olds. But I have been told that adults listen to my show, which is great.

Donna: Do you limit your interviews to children’s writers?

Jill: No. I do not limit by myself to children’s writers. I also interview YA authors, singers (21 years and younger), actors and actresses. I sometimes will also interview an author or someone who talks about certain issues that teens go through for example, bullying and eating disorders. Those are two things that I feel are important to address. That is not to say that there are other things that need to be addressed because there are. I love to interview.

Donna: Are you interested in interviewing writers to talk about how (or why) they became writers, their writing process, or other aspects of being a writer?

Jill: I am interested in interviewing more authors. I love it. I do talk to them about their writing process, about their books along with other questions about writing and then I do ask them questions about themselves. If they want to see the questions before hand that is great, but they do not have too.

Donna: Are you primarily interested in interviewing local and regional writers, or will you interview writers who live outside Missouri or the Midwest?

Jill: I will interview authors from anywhere.

Donna: How does your interview process work? E-mail? On the phone? In person?

Jill: Most of them are over the phone, but I have done a few in person.

Donna: Please tell us about some writers you’ve interviewed on your program.

Jill: It is kind of funny. My first interview was Mary Higgins Clark. I was asked if I would do it and I said “yes” and from there I was hooked. I have also interviewed Elizabeth Scott, Samantha Schutz, Niki Burnham, Kieran Scott, Linda Joy Singleton, Courtney Shenimel, Dominique Paul, Jessica Brody, Vanessa Lee, Elizabeth Eulberg, Allison van Diepen, Mary Dobson Wade and Kelley Armstrong.

Donna: Wow! Mary Higgins Clark as your first and all the other writers you’ve interviewed. That’s quite an impressive list! What’s the best way for writers who would like to appear on your program to contact you?

Jill: They can either email me at or call me at 573-874-1139.

Donna: How can I listen to previously recorded programs?

Jill: You can hear my show on-line at the time. We also have some podcast of some of the interviews, but not the newer ones yet. I can always email you an mp3 of the interview.

Donna: Last question: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Jill: Thank you for giving me this great opportunity to talk with you. If anyone wants an interview feel free to contact me.

Donna: Thank you so much, Jill, and what a generous gesture.

Writers, if you want to be interviewed by Jill, this is a great opportunity to talk about your books or other projects.


  1. Donna, what a great interview, and Jill, what an exciting show! :) Wish I still lived in Columbia. . .


  2. Hi Margo,
    Thanks. Columbia has so much to offer, but it's great that you don't have to live in or around Columbia to be interviewed by Jill.


  3. I enjoyed the interview. How neat to have your own radio program.

  4. Nice to meet you, Jill. I think it's great that your audience is so young. Great interview from both of you.

  5. Great interview, Donna! After my memoir is published, I'll have to contact Jill....or do I have to be 21 years old??

  6. Often, community radio and television are far superior to commercially sponsored media. Thanks for the interview and information Donna and Jill!


  7. Hi Janet,
    Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

    Hi Carol,
    Thanks. It was a fun interview.

    Hi Becky,
    Thanks. You are 21 years old at heart, so you'll be fine.

    Hi Pat,
    You are welcome. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Donna--A wonderful post, as always, and helpful as well. You are so generous with your resource information.

    I will have to keep Jill in mind. My illustrator's daughter is starting kindergarten on Monday. She is going to (hopefully) finish the drawings very soon.

  9. Hi Sioux,
    Aww. You are so kind.
    I've heard great things about your book. Hope you'll let me interview you here after it's published.

  10. Surely you're jesting. I will be BEGGING you to interview me...

  11. Great interview Donna and Jill. I remember the day...and I'm giving away my age here...when I'd sit in my grandma's living room in front of the huge floor radio and we'd listen to a guy in Peoria Illinois interview the wrestlers of the day, like Georgious George and Andre the Giant. And there was cowboy show from the area that where a guy read from western novels in the evening so some nights we'd eat supper at the coffee table in order to listen. But what I remember most was that we'd watch the radio like we do the tv now. If you asked a kid today to sit and "watch" the radio, they'd think you balmy. Good interview and I'll try to catch the show. Although...I'm way over 18.

  12. A radio station for young ones and with such a cool name--how interesting. Wonderful interview.

  13. Donna, Thanks for introducing us to Jill and her unique radio show!

    Jill, Wishing you continued success!

  14. Hi Sioux,
    You got it!

    Hi Lou,
    Thanks. Shucks, you don't look your age.

    Hi Clarissa,
    Thanks. I've been enjoying your posts this week about book covers.

    Hi Clara,
    You are welcome. Did you notice she will interview writers from all over, and not only children's authors?



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