First Contact was a long running show on KVRX for a few years. Hosted by the beloved Harold Urteaga and Ben Kelder, the show featured in depth discussions of episodes from various Star Trek series, from Deep Space Nine to Discovery. It is the perfect listen for a fanatic, but it is also a great way to get started for anyone looking to get into Star Trek. Although the show ended in spring 2019 with the graduation of Harold, most episodes are available on Mixcloud. We highly recommend starting at the beginning and following along week to week watching episodes along with Harold and Ben. We sat down with the hosts and got the inside scoop on what it was like to run the show.
How was the idea for the show conceived?
H: It was the summer and my girlfriend is a huge Star Trek fan, and she'd been trying to get me to watch it. This seemed as good a way as any to motivate myself. We were the original hosts. Plus, I was the new CP director and kind of felt like a phony having no community programming show myself.
How did you structure each episode?
H: Well when we were broadcasting there were new Star Trek series in development, so Ben usually gave an update on those at the beginning of the show. And our show was focused mostly on recaps - if there was a new series it was a recap of that week's episode, and if not we watched Deep Space Nine.
How did you get into Star Trek?
B: As a kid, my dad, brother and I would all watch Star Trek: The Next Generation whenever it was on. They were also big fans of Deep Space Nine, but by the time I was around, DS9 was more or less gone from the airwaves and TNG was in its full syndication stride. Streaming has fixed that up, and I'm glad to be able to show my brother DS9 again. He has cerebral palsy and tends to parrot things he hears, and is always super psyched whenever an episode of TNG starts up - he always recites the opening speech with Captain Picard, and is just as excited when the Enterprise warps away every time.
Did the show evolve at all over the years?
B: Oh absolutely. Harold was always the Captain of the ship, so to speak, but I took over co-hosting duties from former co-host, occasional Special Guest, and eternal Friend of the Show Zoe. Originally, First Contact was mostly about TNG, but once I came into the picture we shifted to talking about all sorts of things from DS9 to The Orville to Discovery. I also tried adding a lot more sound clips and such to the show once I became involved - one of my personal favorites was a custom "Last time, on Deep Space Nine..." intro, followed by a recap of the "I'm a season behind!!" cliffhanger from our previous show.
Any favorite memories from the time on the show?
B: My personal favorite memory is when we as a group decided to skip a season of Deep Space Nine, and I forgot the memo basically as soon as I walked out of the booth. The next episode was a lot of frantic fun when I realized that I was working entirely off of memory for episodes I haven't seen in years, but I think it produced some of the best comedy we've had on the show.
H: One time Ben and I reviewed the Star Trek Movie, First Contact, and we had my girlfriend back on as a guest, and we also had one of our roommates on the episode, and it was a special time for me.
What is your favorite Star Trek Series?
H: Deep Space 9 for sure. I'm watching TNG right now. Our schtick was that Ben was the Star Trek expert and I'm the joke guy. Sometimes I'd bring in a bit of media studies analysis, but I was mostly the joke guy. So there's a lot of Trek I still haven't seen.
B: Growing up, The Next Generation was always my go-to. All of the games, movies and books I had were with those characters, and I grew to love them all. But as I got older, I finally watched Deep Space Nine, and the characters in it have such rich relationships and slow-burn arcs that it's come around to be the dark horse of the franchise for me. Plus, it gave us four more seasons of one of my favorite TNG characters once they pulled a "File -> Import -> Worf" in Season 4.
What was your favorite thing about the show?
H: I mean, getting Ben on as my new co host and getting to know him and riff with him was my favorite thing. My favorite thing about Star Trek is that it imagines a world/galaxy where people don't have to go hungry or worry if they have a roof over their heads or if they can go see a doctor. There's also no money! Imagine that!
B: Star Trek has put a certain kind of optimism for the future in me that nothing else really has. Recent events are doing their best to shake me from that optimism, but hey, maybe things need to get worse before they get better. I don't know if you knew this, but the world of Star Trek had a World War III. Really, they had two World War III's, but the second one involved nukes. Humanity only really came into its own sense of mutual cooperation and respect after it had to rise out of the ashes of a planet devastated by nuclear war. I hope our own world doesn't need that wake up call for us to put aside our differences and acknowledge that at a base level, we're all human and in this whole "life" thing together, but I sincerely wish that one day we do reach that conclusion and work for the betterment of mankind at large over individuals.
If some eager DJs came along and wanted to continue the show, would you want to keep it going, or are you happy with the ending the show received?
H: I mean, I've had this happen already with one other show, and I am personally very flattered that people care enough about the show to keep it going.
B: I think there's always room for Star Trek on the airwaves, especially now that we're in a renaissance of new shows like Discovery and Picard. If some Trekkie DJs wanted to pick up a First Contact: The Next Generation or some other show in a similar vein, I'd encourage them to do it in a heartbeat.
While we don't yet know what the future holds for Star Trek on the KVRX airwaves, we can always look back on the magic that was First Contact. Perhaps start by listening to the episode reviewing First Contact the movie.