By Jim Mitchell
After a fulfilling detour to Alaska, Oklahoma State University alumnus Quinton Chandler has returned to Oklahoma to cover criminal justice as the newest member of the StateImpactOklahoma team, which regularly files news reports heard on KOSU and other public radio stations around the state.
“‘Criminal justice’ is just the quick description for the topics I’m covering,” Chandler says. “My beat is a little more than that. I find out how Oklahomans are interacting with law enforcement, the judicial and corrections systems. Basically, I try to give people a better look at how these areas of government affect all of our lives.”
He recently produced a report about restructuring Oklahoma’s drug courts now that state laws have been reformed to keep minor, nonviolent offenders out of prison. Some hope the courts could offer misdemeanor offenders treatment that could help them avoid more serious charges in the future. Currently, that treatment is reserved for felony offenders in Oklahoma.
“I could find myself talking with judges, police, prison inmates, jail inmates, people in prison diversion programs, criminal justice reform advocates, prosecutors, defense attorneys, legislators, crime victims and their families — anyone who can lead me to a story,” Chandler says. “It’s an incredible opportunity to report on issues that much of our country has recognized as a priority. And it’s especially nice to be home.”
He started his radio career in 2011 as a college intern at KOSU, after growing up in the Oklahoma City metro area, including in Spencer.
“I learned how to write news stories for radio, host newscasts, record and mix audio. Most importantly, I learned that the best news stories are those that focus on realities that affect people’s lives. I also learned how to recognize and develop those stories.”
After graduation, that hands-on experience and knowledge helped Chandler secure his first full-time radio job at a station in south central Alaska.
“I was the Morning Edition host and general assignment reporter for KBBI Public Radio in Homer for a couple of years,” he says. “Then I moved to southeast Alaska to serve as education reporter for KTOO Public Media in Juneau.”
Chandler says Alaska offered him a rich and nurturing environment, allowing him to sharpen the reporting skills he’d learned at OSU. “The land and people are beautiful,” he says. “Living there was an invaluable experience for which I will always be grateful. I miss the salmon, mountains and the Tongass National Forest.”
As for the cold weather?
“It’s really not as cold in Alaska as people think,” Chandler says. “Oklahoma winters are actually colder than Homer's and Juneau’s, although those towns are in the southern part of the state. North of Anchorage, the cold is a bit more intense, but I never lived out that way.”
Chandler now lives and works in Norman, but you can hear him reporting from any area of the state. Listen to his latest reports online at stateimpact.npr.org.
StateImpact Oklahoma is a collaboration of public radio stations in Oklahoma including KOSU, KGOU, KWGS and KCCU.