WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – This week, KSN introduces an award-winning announcer and the incredible work she’s doing behind the scenes.
Her voice may be recognizable from being on the airwaves.
Growing up in a musical household, Carla Eckels knew from the time she was a little girl she wanted to share the joy of music through radio. Eckels started working at KMUW in 1996 and says she tries every day to embody the lyrics from her favorite Jill Scott song living her life like it’s “Golden.” Eckels’ sunny disposition and signature yellow outfits made her an instant and beloved stand-out ever since.
If you ever get the chance to visit KMUW and pass by one studio in particular, you may find it hard not to get in the groove.
“I believe in ‘feel good’ music. I really do,” said Eckels.
Because when Eckels hits the airwaves, you know it’s gonna be a dance party.
“I’ve been called ‘Sister Sunshine,'” exclaimed Eckels. “I love dancing, and I love for our listeners to dance. One called me the other day and was like, ‘Carla. I danced the whole hour.’ He said, ‘I danced all the way through Soulsations,’ and I thought, that’s what it’s all about.”
Not only is she the KMUW Director of Organizational Culture, but she is also the voice and the brains behind the R&B and gospel show Soulsations. The show is now in its 14th year.
“When I found out that it went national and now international, I was over the moon,” said Eckels.
Each Sunday on Soulsations, Eckels keeps the classics going strong while introducing listeners to budding young artists from around the world.
“When they hear themselves on the air, they go ‘Gasp! Oh my gosh!’ You know, they get so excited,” exclaimed Eckels.
One of the most popular parts of the show is a segment called ‘Double Take.’
“We take two songs, so for example, this week it’ll be Chaka Khan and Whitney Houston singing ‘I’m Every Woman,’ and then we have an artist, a local person here, give a little bit of history about the song, you know, having the original and the cover, people love that they’re put together and that they learn something,” said Eckels.
But it’s not just about music for Eckels. The award-winning announcer also produces and hosts “In The Mix,” a segment uncovering stories about race and culture from across Kansas, bringing them into the spotlight.
“It’s important to hear all kinds of voices on the radio, and so to be able to share about the Dockum Sit-In and those kinds of things. Oh, it’s just been great,” said Eckels.
One story she’s particularly proud of is when she honored Hattie McDaniel, the first black woman to win an academy award.
“She was from Wichita, and I thought, wow, you know, we need to do something more about this so that people know more about her. We discovered that there was a marker that was someplace downtown that was gone, and listeners were saying, ‘Hey, we need to do something about this. It needs to be replaced,’ and so now there’s a permanent marker in Wichita, and that came because of a story! You know?” asked Eckels.
As Eckels approaches 27 years at KMUW. She says she has no plans of stopping this labor of love anytime soon.
“They say, ‘What’s from the heart reaches the heart,’ and so that’s my goal: for people to be touched by what they hear lifting up music, lifting up stories. It’s just … that’s the best part,” said Eckels.
Soulsations airs every Sunday at 6 a.m., and 6 p.m. ‘In The Mix’ airs once a month as part of the NPR network show “The Range.”