Behind The Mic: Marco Arreola and the Mental State of America

Impassioned by humanity, honesty, and patriotism, Marco Arreola explores the many facets of American society through open communication and positivity.

Senior Communications Major, and Sociology Minor, Marco Arreola was enticed by the sociological side of communication through the aide of his Sociology 101 professor Robert Fargo from Southwestern College. This class confirmed many of his preconceived notions on human society, but further expanded his curiosity. This baseline Sociology course drew his interest enough to enroll in a Sociology and Religion course with the same professor the following semester.

What truly drew Arreola to the subject was the humanistic perspective he provided the class. Empathizing with students and showing vulnerability made the class more inviting and an overall more fostering learning environment. Being a “free speech absolutist” he also fell in love with the open discussion forum the course provided students such as himself. The beauty of being able to see the human side of his professor is something that Arreola believes should stretch across every facet of humanity. 

Arreola is the host of The State of ‘Merica on KCR, live Tuesdays from 3 to 4 pm. On this show, the political junkie and mental health advocate decompresses by playing a parody of himself. In the ever stressful times we live in, Arreola finds this time on Tuesday afternoons to poke fun at the seriousness of the times we deal with on a day to day basis. On one special episode, he read the entire U.S. Constitution word for word live on-air. 

So, what is the state of America in his eyes? What are Americans all about? 

“If I could describe Americans with one word, it would just be simply, American.” The unique hypocrisy of our beliefs tied together with our actions is a special kind of oxymoron reserved for the American people. Arreola discusses how despite being a secular nation, many pride themselves on Christian beliefs. Or the fact that we celebrate and uphold our voting system despite the fact many of us said we had to vote for the lesser of two evils in the most recent Presidential election.  He goes on to say, “Only an American would think that way.” 

Patriotism can be seen as a flaw in society today as many view our nation to be a despicable one at that. Many are asking how someone can love this country, but Arreola has the perspective many need to take.

“Personally, I’m a Patriot. I’m proud to be an American,” he goes on to say, “but part of what comes with that is that you realize there are flaws in the country.” 

America is currently in one of its most publicly critiqued states of recent history, but Arreola looks at that as an opportunity to grow as a nation. 

“I’m thirsty for justice, for glory, for honor.”

He loves the fact that the problems of America are rising to the surface, seeing them as an opportunity to do better for the American people. The Bilingual Otay Ranch native is not like anchors we may see on FOX News at any given time of the week, he can recognize this nation’s flaws with the ability to see ways to make leaps towards the future. With the title of being an American holding so much weight, the pressure fuels his desire to make this country better than it has ever been. 

The Righteous Mind by Johnathan Hyde is one of his favorite books and it has helped him understand the phenomenon of American Patriotism. 

The dichotomy of modern politics has bred distaste for members of the “opposing” party for most. In turn, this has made it increasingly difficult for people on opposite ends of the political spectrum to foster progressive conversations. Arreola asserts having no political label as he feels that aides in the confirmation bias many come into these conversations with. He, like myself and many others, feel as though their beliefs are their own and should be forced to be put into the box of Democrat or Republican.

Arreola is doing this as his part to bring people together to have an open discussion. A recent Bernie Sanders appearance on FOX News drew a lot of interest from members all along the political spectrum. Arreola was enticed by this as Sanders told the audience to set aside the political party tag and merely listen to his ideas. He said, “It was such an enormous hit, I remember reading articles and seeing town halls about them agreeing on the substance of policies and not the titles of them.” 

Arreola wants people to hear ideas, not focus on whatever connotation is placed behind the name of the idea. Politicians fuel their campaigns behind the terms and terminology they use and this is something Arreola stresses we all should be mindful of. He is pushing media literacy across the board for all; do our research and understand the concepts of socialism instead of being alarmed by the term’s association with communism.

Now politics aside, Arreola has another project coming soon via KCR that he is very passionate about. 

With two episodes already recorded, Arreola is bringing the audience a podcast focusing on discussions of mental health with people from all walks of life. Arreola was diagnosed with Schizophrenia during his freshman year of high school and it changed his life. Leaving traditional high school he was enrolled at Alta Vista Academy in Chula Vista where he finished out high school with other students who went through mental health struggles and discovery.

In this school, most kids are not expected to graduate let alone make their way to college. Arreola was a special case as not only did he graduate on time, he had aspirations of attending SDSU. He left the program and enrolled at Southwestern College where he made his transition here to SDSU. Now, being at State, he finds it important to be open about his mental health in efforts to make the discussion easier for everyone.

He “came out” as having schizophrenia at the beginning of this semester to his peers as well as members here at KCR and was received with nothing but understanding. The podcast has yet to come out as Arreola has struggled with being able to maintain the initial values he set forth for his show. He wants it to be genuine, and an open environment for discussion. However, mental health is tied to all the controversy we face in our everyday life. Tangents happen and what starts as a conversation about happiness can lead to discussions on race relations through American history. The conversations are happening and they will be heard, when they are ready to be heard. 

The actions and discussions surrounding mental health are, “American” according to Arreola. Going back to his original description of the contradiction of Americans, this stands true as talks are happening but walks are not following the conversations. 

“An Asylum patient from the 1940s has the same levels of anxiety of today’s college students,” mentioned Arreola, giving an indication of the times we are surviving mentally.

With anxiety levels high, Arreola keeps his focus higher and does his job to help himself and others around him. He is open to having a conversation with anyone; he wants everyone to be happy and he partially owes this mindset to his grandfather. When he was a child his grandfather told him, “Marco, be loyal to the things that matter. And never forget this, love humanity. Respect it, and serve it at all times and with all your soul.” 

Arreola loves humanity in every which way; he actively seeks to make it better for those living within it. 

Arreola does not believe he could be achieving the day to day success he is right now without his past failures. He viewed having to change schools and not being able to go straight from high school into SDSU as a failure along with the repercussions of his mental health struggles. Those experiences make him that much more grateful for the small successes of each coming day. If he eats something delicious, that is a success. If he goes to class, participates and compliments a classmate, that’s a success. Being able to share this story of Marco Arreola? That’s a success.

Written by: Alexis Camel
Photos by: Alexis Camel

Behind The Mic: The Dreamer, The Messenger, The Antonio Marquez

Antonio Marquez overcame adversity to be a voice for the unheard and dreams of connecting the four corners of the earth to tell their stories.

Born in Guanajuato, Mexico Antonio Marquez and his family immigrated to San Diego in search of a better life when he was the age of 7. He did not discover that he was undocumented until he reached the age of 15, at the beginning of the college application experience. Marquez said, “It felt like a nightmare, you know. It’s real.” That would not be the first time his citizenship status would be a roadblock in his path. 

The Senior Journalism and Media Studies major, now age 33, has had one hell of a journey to get to SDSU.

He initially graduated from San Diego City College in 2008; he also interned at Univision during that final school year. With an Associate’s Degree in Communications and a foot in the door of the media industry, Antonio saw a bright future ahead of him. Suddenly, his undocumented status once again was blocking his path to success. “Once I did my internship at Univision and my last year of community college, they offered me a job,” and then reality struck, “They couldn’t help me and they let me go.” Not being a legal citizen, and this occurring years prior to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Univision was unable to give him the job he had worked so hard for. 

Leaving the news station, he began working at McDonald’s to support himself and his family. After a few weeks on the job, he broke down while cleaning the restroom one night. It was rock bottom and the first time he had truly felt all the overwhelming feelings that had yet to confront. Speaking with his mother on the issue, he decided to make the most of what he had. He began to excel at his job and soon moved up the ranks to a Management position. Part of this was due to his ability to speak both English and Spanish, an industry advantage in Southern California. This showed him how much he brought to the table; how he can tell stories to and for everyone that needs their voice amplified. 

Aiming to start a new life, Marquez packed up with his partner and moved to Yakima, Washington. From working in the field to working in the fields, Marquez picked produce in his new hometown. One day of work the woman next to him passed out while they were working the refrigerator. Shocked, and empathizing with her, he would be even more surprised to see that she was replaced less than 30 minutes later. Marquez quickly realized this was not the life for him, so he made a connection to volunteer for the local radio station. 

Radio KDNA in Yakima was the first opportunity for Marquez to participate in the radio industry since he had only done video broadcast journalism. A largely Spanish-speaking population fills the town and with many being large families with low-income, Marquez earned a segment speaking on entertainment and films to watch for these families. Promoting what was new on RedBox, he would connect with listeners by giving them a place to escape for a moment and point them in the right direction for some more entertainment.

The radio station put him on the public scene, but the local newspaper El Sol de Yakima got him in front of the people.

In his position as a reporter for the paper, he covered the stories of undocumented immigrants and their journey to Yakima as well as many of the small businesses they had started. Unable to accept compensation from the people who the stories were about, they brought him into their homes to thank him off the clock the old fashion way, with some food and company.

In 2012 life in Yakima was going well, but there was a new revelation regarding his citizenship, DACA had been announced. Upon the announcement, his mother called him and offered him something he could not refuse, a second chance. She told him to focus on school and do everything he can to get into SDSU. He moved back and started attending his alma mater San Diego City College in 2013. His school would be covered by the Board of Governor’s waiver, but he wanted some extra income. Finding a new job at a Hillcrest club named Numbers, Marquez started to fall in love with the radio. The music he listened to on the job showed him the form of expression music can be.

His first application to SDSU was denied after the comeback, but he persisted. He received an acceptance letter on his second attempt, but the cake he bought to celebrate would soon go to waste. Having received a C- in a certain JMS course, he would not be accepted this year other. While at City College, Marquez ran Cross Country. He and his coach shared a connection and he did everything he could to help him get into SDSU. This connection would be just what he needed to get that acceptance letter. The third try would be the final try. He was finally accepted into SDSU for the Fall 2018 semester and only after earning four Associate Degrees. He would bring to campus his degrees in Communications, Journalism, Behavioral Sciences, and lastly Chicano Studies. 

Marquez participated in the transfer bridge program put on by the Educational Opportunity Program here at State. However, it was not until the first day of class where he truly felt like he was a student here. Since his arrival, he has been involved, to say the least. He is a writer for the Mundo Azteca, the Spanish portion of The Daily Aztec; a DJ and radio host for his show Dreamer Hour on KCR College Radio; a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ); and a member of Associated Students. Involvement has brought many opportunities for his second wind of college.

Marquez first joined KCR and what caught his eye was the wide diversity within the organization.

“Just walking in the room and seeing everybody. We’re all so different,” said Marquez. On his show, Dreamer Hour, he interviews people, including a heart to heart conversation with his mother, and expresses himself through music. It’s called that because of, “Sometimes you wake up and you had a really weird dream. You try to remember throughout the day,” he goes on, “It feels like some distant memory. I want my show to be like that. To leave an impact on you, but not worry about the songs that played. All that matters is that you were there in the moment. Within Mundo Azteca, he has built a journalism career reporting on undocumented students and issues. This has spilled over into his NAHJ membership where he was able to attend the Excellence in Journalism Conference in September in San Antonio, Texas. 

This conference was only a month after the El Paso Walmart shooting; he was shocked to find out that there was undercover security disguised in the crowd. It truly made him feel that, as an undocumented Latinx community member, “I feel like I have a target on my back.” This subtle sense of fear persists through many within this community, hence why Marquez finds his role to be so important. He is able to tell the stories of the unheard, translating to both Spanish and English to reach an ever wider audience. The Dreamer Hour is part of his therapy to both get away and confront said issues. He plays his favorite 80s songs and anything else that makes him feel good. 

“I still don’t know where I’m gonna end up, but I know I wanna be somewhere in the media,” said Marquez. He sees himself as a messenger. In ancient Mexican culture, a hummingbird symbolizes a messenger between the gods and the people. Antonio Marquez’s wings are fluttering and they will not stop until he has connected the world.

Written by: Alexis Camel
Photos by: Alexis Camel


Behind The Mic: HogPod: The Show About Nothing

In a world where everything is at our fingertips, sometimes nothing is all you need. HogPod: The Show About Nothing is here to give you everything that you need

HogPod is hosted by freshmen Kameron Grant and Samantha Blanchard along with sophomore Connor Trees. Connor is the eldest, but the Television, Film and New Media Major shares an equally youthful exuberance with the rest of the group. The free-flowing, sometimes awkward, always enthusiastic hosts of the show have made improvements in every episode to date, but what is HogPod really about? 

Now, what does a radio show and podcast that is about nothing encompass?

Well, radio shows usually play music and speak on specific topics. You will be sure to hear some music on this program, but the hosts do not really know what music is just yet. Want to know for yourself? Check them out on Fridays at 4 pm and you can hear them shouting at each other, “I still don’t know what music is!”.

You don’t have to know much about something to enjoy it. They are learning as they go. Learning what music is, and also what their show is all about. The show’s name states it is about nothing, however, it is everything you need to enjoy yourself. 

In a time where our President is acting like a child in the public eye, it’s fun to take our mind off of things. HogPod is the perfect show for you to wind down your long work week with, and start the weekend off on a high note. 

Surely, a group of people this funny and witty would have a good story for how their show came to fruition. The funny thing is, that none of this was planned.

Each semester KCR hosts a new member meeting to allow students to join the station. These three met at said meeting, feeling a connection over their choice to join KCR’s video department. Confirmed as part of the video team, a veteran member asked Kameron if they were interested in having a radio show. Kameron hesitated at first, but upon realizing that there would be no harm, he decided to ask Connor and Samantha if they could do one together. 

The three Aztecs who were still basically strangers began the start of HogPod. Their first episode was their first real opportunity to sit down, learn each other’s names, and talk with each other void of distractions. Connor jokingly said, “During the first show I was just sitting there waiting for one of them to say the other person’s name for a bit.” It all worked out well for them though. Kameron said, “It was a cool experiment to stick these three people in a room, and you know it worked.” After a few rookie mistakes, things have become gradually easier for the group, allowing them to play less music and speak on more topics.

The team is more than the sum of its parts, yet these parts come together perfectly.

Samantha began her journalism career early when she had her own Instagram page where she took portraits and interviewed people before moving to SDSU. Kameron has a fascination with Edgar Wright films and hopes to achieve similar success. Swiss Army Man featuring Daniel Radcliffe encompasses the cinematic vision that Connor has. Connor and Kameron have both done their fair share of Youtube videos, and the three are all working together to create more quality content on-air and on camera. This show has only just begun, but the future is looking bright for these three. 

So, what do they talk about on the show about nothing? For starters, with Kameron and Connor both majoring in Television, Film and New Media, the three discuss cinema in various ways. Whether it be your favorite animated movie you forgot about, Over The Hedge, or Samantha confusing Jamie Foxx’s character from The Amazing Spider-Man 2 with George Lopez’s character from Shark Boy and Lava Girl, you’ll be sure to get a laugh out of the conversation. 

Joker just released in theaters and Connor was lucky enough to see it prior to their fourth episode on October 4th. Choosing to avoid spoilers but still keep the topic of conversation, the HogPod team created Guacin Phoenix, the critically acclaimed actor that is your favorite dips for your chips. Not getting exactly how they got there? Well, you need to check out their next show to see if he comes back into the conversation. 

Samantha is majoring in Journalism and Media Studies, and though the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been one of the number one news topics over the last decade, she is not a fan. Stating her disdain for the man who plays Spider-Man. “I don’t like Tom Holland he looks funny.” Kameron and Connor were so dumbfounded by her lack of MCU knowledge that they decided to explain all of the movies using none of the names of the actual superheroes. They certainly were not able to get all the way through the timeline, but it was something to hear them try.

They also have a reoccurring, invisible guest named Daniel. You can’t see him, nor can you hear him. He’s been very shy so far, but there is hope he’ll speak up one of these days. 

BIG NEWS BIG NEWS BIG NEWS!!!! HogPod is just getting started!

If you’re lucky enough to be tuned in for some Big News you’ll be happy you heard it here first. Each episode they let the listeners know of what big news is going on in the HogPod world, once even contemplating purchasing Kurt Cobain’s home. Unfortunately, it was out of their budget. 

Now with a quarter of a season under their belt, getting comfortable with their new school and show, this team is a family. They’re just like your favorite sitcom; you may not know what is going on all the time, but you know that you are going to enjoy whatever happens next. With the whole world in front of them, where to next? 

HogPod: The Show About Nothing
Photo by Alexis Camel
Written by: Alexis Camel
All photos, shot and edited by Alexis Camel.

Behind The Mic: Kyle Saunders

Unafraid to break the status quo, Kyle Saunders has made a name for himself as a family man, with his brothers, and as KCR’s Sports Director.

At first glance, a stranger may see KCR Sports Director Kyle Saunders’ flip flops and Pike fraternity polo and write him off to be like every other stereotypical white frat boy we’ve seen in movies like Animal House and Neighbors, but that could not be farther from the truth. 

Born and raised in Sacramento, California along with his young sister, Kyle spent a majority of his youth with his mother’s huge immediate family. Family values are the basis of the loving, caring, radiating aura that Saunders gives off wherever he roams. If you happen to see Saunders at any time on campus, you can feel the positive energy emitting from his being. 

With his father in and out of the picture, Saunders has always been grateful for the bonds he shares with his family.

He even goes so far as to say that he does not have friends, only family. This sentiment is something many people think they believe in, but it is the only truth Saunders knows. 

Growing up without much of a father figure, Saunders chose to fill that role himself and be that for his younger sister. Being overprotective at times, it caused some tension in their relationship during their teens. However, it paid off well as they now have a solid relationship that is as budding as ever. 

So, why would someone whose family means so much to them decide to leave their hometown and go to a school on the opposite end of the state? Simply for a fresh start and to add more people into his family. 

Saunders was on a recruiting trip to play basketball at UCSD and had some free time during his trip, so he decided to check out SDSU’s campus. Now, he was unsure if his academics were good enough to get him into the school, but after receiving an acceptance letter that doubt was gone forever. He found a new home and was excited to start a new family. 

Saunders played football, basketball, and golf throughout his high school career. Those teams gave him many of the friends he still has to this day, while also fostering a sense of community for him. You could say sports are a passion for Saunders, but a better assessment would be that the familial aspect of sports was something he always admired. 

Sports tend to instill a work ethic into athletes that often translates into other aspects of life. One thing very evident about Saunders is that he is not afraid to try new things and he will persist until he is successful. He even picked up surfing last May to start off his first summer in San Diego. With nothing but a goal and a foam board, Saunders kept trying and can now say, “I’m pretty nice.”

Now, even with the best work ethic, doubts still arise. Living hours away from your friends and family can be difficult when you’re a freshman that’s used to knowing everybody, that now does not really know anybody. On top of that, one of his closest high school instructors passed away from a surprising heart attack only a couple of weeks into the school year. However, that frustration and those doubts all went away one afternoon, in Chipotle. 

Sitting by himself, weeks out from KCR’s first meeting, Saunders was approached by two young men who were also rushing at the time and wanting to befriend Saunders. Austin Lemak was one of the two young men that approached him and they ended up becoming pledge brothers for SDSU’s Pike fraternity. Unfortunately, Lemak passed away this past February from Oral Cancer. Though their relationship was short-lived they felt like lifelong brothers. Lemak’s impact on Saunders is a testament to how meaningful any relationship can be no matter how long it lasts. It also helped him gain a whole new family through his fraternity brothers.

We all know the stigma behind fraternities, but Saunders proves that there’s more than what you see in the media.

Choosing to prioritize his individuality and not compromise his pride, Pike was the place for him. Working around his schedule played a big part, but the Miracle League of San Diego that the frat volunteers for made the final sale. Saturdays during the semester, members of Pike go out and assist children who are disabled in their own baseball league. They help the players hit and field the ball and hold their hands while running around the bases. Growing up with a cousin with autism, this meant a lot to Saunders. 

Photo Credit: Alexis Camel

Their charitable work sold Saunders, but he was also enamored in the foundation he was able to build. The fall of 2016 was his freshman year at state and his pledge class was the first to have an actual house on campus. Saunders had a vision and along with his brothers, brought it to fruition. This meant that he could and would play an integral part in creating a legacy for the fairly young fraternity.

Serving as Director of Programming while also having the top GPA of his house during his sophomore and junior year, Saunders found ways to make the most out of the money they had without having members pay exponential dues. His favorite memory of serving that position was PikeStock, a homemade, makeshift festival that opened its doors to SDSU students that were not even in the fraternity. Complete with LED lights, CO2 spray, it was one for the ages, to say the least.

Now frats are fun and all, but Saunders says, “There’s so much more to me and what I do than drinking plastic vodka on a Tuesday.”

KCR is one facet of his identity that he takes a lot of pride in. With his sports career now over he already knew he wanted to continue in the industry of sports through our own KCR after being sold during freshman orientation.

His first show was KT Sportstalk with Tony Zarate and it actually garnered him a Top Sports Show award in its first season. Shadowing the Sports Director at the time, Saunders wanted each and every opportunity to immerse himself in the Aztec world of sports. He has covered every sport on campus from Women’s Water Polo to Men’s Baseball. Writing, announcing, and whatever else the sports department offered the opportunity to do. The most interesting coverage he did was a women’s water polo game which he had never watched before but was utterly impressed by their competitiveness. “Head Coach Sydney Crawford is awesome, and it was intense man. They’re pulling hair, grabbing each other, scratching each other under the water, talking shit, it was super fun,” said Saunders.

After a full year in KCR, Saunders believed he was ready for the Sports Director position, but the new management at the time believed otherwise. Without the position, he had worked so hard for, he decided to take a step back and venture into sportswriting for The Daily Aztec. He enjoyed his time covering football on the sidelines as a beat reporter, but he figured out that writing was not as fun for him as what he had done with KCR. He came back the following semester and did his own sports talk show yet again.

This past January, Saunders finally got his shot at the Sports Director position. When handed the reins he was left with more problems than benefits. However, the networking king that is Kyle Saunders was able to use the connections he made before to reconnect relationships and gain the trust of the sports teams on campus. After only a semester on the job, he believes the department is doing well. “It’s a lot better. I think it’s a lot more transparent,” said Saunders.

Where does Saunders want to go next?

He’s discussed opportunities with the San Diego Padres and he dreams of being on Sportscenter, but all he wants to do is be happy and surround himself with good people. “I’d love to be crafting up highlights all day and interviewing athletes, that’d be so cool. Traveling with a team would be really cool. I won’t say no to anything at this point,” he goes on to say, “I’m just doing what makes me happy and surrounding myself with good people.”

Saunders is an example of what having strong values and a good work ethic can do to your life and to the lives of those you interact with. He will acquire his Bachelor’s in Journalism and Media Studies in May 2020, but he’s already found success in his own right. Saunders said, “Success would be, a happy group of people around me.” If you see him on campus you can see just how successful he is. A lifelong fan of the Sacramento Kings, Saunders, and his hometown team are both on the rise to the top.

Photo Credit: Alexis Camel
Written by: Alexis Camel