Part I: The Making of a Goat
In a story like this, often the beginnings are humble. The story of the Goat Posse is really the story of many who found a home at KVSC: a warm, welcoming place, built lovingly by Jo Lynn McMullen.
When Captain F first met Jo in the basement studios of KVSC in January 1994, he was SCSU Student Senator Fareed Guyot and a guest on Student Government Update Live (a show he would eventually host in the years to come). Despite what his aviation major would suggest, Fareed also had a strong interest in radio and asked the current host how to sign up to become a student announcer.
Trundling by at that very moment was Jo and they were introduced. She was warm, vivacious, but in a hurry, as she often was. But it still felt like she was happy he was there.
New announcers are called “Fresh Fish” and when Jo was prospecting for Trivia volunteers she was a shark – but a friendly one, like in a Disney animated film. During one of Captain F’s training sessions, she dropped by and gave the Trivia recruitment pitch to be a Phone Bank Worker for the upcoming “Motel Trivia”. Wanting to impress, Captain F signed up to work, assiduously making sure to volunteer at least 15 hours to earn the T-Shirt.
Part II: The Womb of The Posse
After Trivia that year, Captain F leaned into his time at KVSC, hosting a regular music shift and joining the News Department. It was the “University of Jo”, and Captain F was taught many things including: the nuts and bolts of reporting, audio production, and (being in the company of the station legends around at that time) the creative culture of KVSC.
But what was Jo’s approach to community public radio? Besides the basic premise of connecting with your listeners, the station must be accessible, diverse, educational, serve the community, and be fun! Jo herself had a specific voice. Intelligent when reading the news, and conversational when hosting a shift. She was quick to a laugh or a giggle when chatting on the air with another host or guest, and would punctuate with a rising and falling supportive ‘ahhh’ or ‘mmm’ when the other person made a good point.
But good radio is also in the writing, and Jo would provide notes or talking points to station talent and producers in large and unique, but legible script, usually in fine point marker. It was always supportive. One time, Captain F was chatting with Jo about a famous author she had just interviewed who wrote “Eyes on the Prize”. Captain F got a peek at the station ID scripts she had him read; one of them finished with:
“…and I always keep my Ears on the Prize, when I listen to KVSC.”
For Captain F, that whimsical, witty, and punny writing would inform his approach to production and his approach to the Goat Posse going forward.
By February 1995, Dial-T for Trivia had come and Captain F was there for it all, but he also brought along his creative friends Dude and Wildman to join him in the production studio (then known as the Challenge Line).
The first few years were a combination of phone bank and the Challenge Line as they learned when a fart jokes is sometimes just mailing it in. But through it all, Jo was encouraging, supportive, and even participated in their productions. They would beg her to listen to this or that whether she found them funny or not, she would always be positive.
Part III: A Posse is Born
In 1998, during Trivia Sells Out, the Posse produced a handful of productions that evolved beyond reacting to Challenge Line calls. One production was a spoof of a Nike television ad that was running at the time. It was the first Posse production to which Jo lent her voice. In recording the lines, the Posse just asked folks to walk up to the microphone and improvise. When it was Jo’s turn, she sidled up and laid on a great line which also may have provided a window into some hidden kink:
“I can belly dance in Appalachian clogs.”
Apparently, Jo took notice as well and gave a shout out to “Fareed and his Posse” at the awards ceremony. In 1999, they would return as the Goat Posse. It was a big deal in their minds to be recognized by Jo, and each year the members of the Posse felt very fortunate to be welcomed back to KVSC to participate even after having graduated and moved on. Jo would also have a recurring role in the Posse’s productions of Stink Rock, providing a “Testimonial” in each edition beginning in 2004 with “Wedding Stink”.
Part IV: Part of the Fabric
By 2001, the Goat Posse began producing the “Trivia Intro”, a long form audio piece intended to set the stage for that year’s theme. Jo and each year’s current student Program Director would host the first two hours of the trivia broadcast. The Intro would serve as the bridge to begin the contest. That first year, Captain F may have mentioned to Jo that he was planning an audio piece to air in that preshow slot, but it was a vague promise since he was producing it up until the last few hours before it would air.
It cannot be pointed out enough that Jo encouraged creativity and innovation in all who put their energies into KVSC. She was almost always willing to provide airtime to those ideas either well-planned or hairbrained if it furthered the KVSC mission and the development of those who volunteered.
The Trivia Intro was the first example of the Posse organically becoming part of KVSC Trivia. Soon, the group was given preferential access to the production studio, and always supervised the first phone shift of Trivia, as she felt she could rely on them to get that aspect of the contest off to a good start. Plus, the Posse was dumb enough to devote a weekend in February each year without fail; who was she to discourage that type of behavior?
Part V: Hall of Fame and Beyond
In the early 2000s, KVSC initiated the “Trivia Hall of Fame”. By that time, Trivia was 20 years old and it was time to recognize some of those who made the event great. By 2004, after several years of inductees, the Goat Posse was – to their complete surprise – inducted in the Hall. We were doubly honored to join Jo who was inducted that same year. In many ways, the Goat Posse was Jo’s long-term project: finding ways to keep alumni engaged which leads to sustainability of one of her true loves, KVSC.
Over the next 15 to 20 years, the Posse would continue to weave its wool into the workings of the contest, including lots of behind-the-scenes support. The “Trivia Awards” became “The Goat Posse Awards”, but more importantly, a new tradition emerged that would highlight the special relationship between Jo and the Posse. Beginning in 2010, the Trivia Intro featured a “toss” to the hosts and Jo’s reaction each time on air sparked them to also present an “Air Check” version in their online archives.
In 2015, during Game of Trivia, the “toss” was recorded on video to catch the hosts’ reactions. Jo’s delightful, fun personality was on full display as she reacted uproariously to the audio. From then on, each “toss” was video recorded so we could relive her reaction to the intro and the chaos the inevitably ensued each year as she prepared for the opening trivia shift. It was also a window into the chaos of a radio studio in the minutes before air time.
From the beginning, it was always the goal to make Jo laugh. It was the ultimate validation by arguably the most important person at KVSC who was also the last to understand how important she was to the station and its community. No matter what you did for KVSC, whether it be Trivia or an air shift on a random day in November, we all did our best for Jo.
Part VI: A Final Salute
It was not known to many that in 2023, “Trivia on Trial” would be Jo’s final contest. The Goat Posse, as is tradition each year inducts new goats into the Posse. Over the years, the Posse has conferred Honorary Goat titles to influential KVSC figures who contributed to the DNA of who the Posse is today.
To honor the Posse’s special tie to KVSC and Jo, during the Awards Ceremony, the Goat Posse inducted Jo McMullen into the herd as the one and only Goatmother.
Jo Lynn McMullen finished her historic 30 year run as KVSC’s longest serving Station Manager in the spring of 2023. Her passing brought great sadness to the legions of friends, colleagues, and former students who almost all could boast a personal connection to her, that’s how giving she was.
Friends, family, former students and colleagues of Jo McMullen-Boyer gathered Aug. 31 in St. Cloud State University’s Ritsche Auditorium to celebrate her life.