When he was in high school, National Border Patrol Council Vice President Shawn Moran would do anything to get on the radio.
"I had started off as a teenager who would call the disk jockeys in New York City until they put me on the air," Moran said. "In high school I was able to get a job working at WBRW which was an AM radio station in central New Jersey. And then I became the morning disk jockey at my college. So I was always torn between law enforcement and communications."
So torn, in fact, that when he graduated from the University of Scranton, his first two job offers were to become a Border Patrol agent, or to start as the overnight disk jockey at Hot 97 in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Now he doesn't have to choose between homeland security and radio. As host of "The Green Line," Moran puts out a weekly podcast to share his stories from the California border, and the stories of his colleagues in the U.S. Border Patrol, with the world. It didn't take long for praise to start pouring in. In addition to thousands of loyal followers, the program also netted Moran AFGE's prestigious Clyde M. Webber Award for General Excellence in Labor Communications at the union's 2015 National Convention.
Moran became interested in communications in grade school, and almost pursued a career in broadcast journalism before deciding to major in criminal justice in college. Since joining the Border Patrol Council, Moran became the lead on communications with members and has tried almost every medium out there to stay in touch with other Border Patrol Agents (BPAs).
After experimenting with websites, message boards and newsletters, the council found success with podcasts which Moran attributes to the unique nature of a BPA's job.
"Our agents, many times, have to go out to the field and they have quite a bit of a commute, and when they do get to the field, they have to sit in a stationary position," Moran said. "So there's many times that they'll want something to keep their brain occupied while they're watching the border. And so the podcast, especially the audio one, is perfect for that."
"The Green Line" podcast has covered issues on a wide range of topics, beginning with the very first segment on suicide prevention for BPAs, an issue that Moran was passionate about covering in the wake of the deaths of several agents.
"The suicide prevention segment struck a chord, because we've had agents who have taken their own lives," Moran said. "To be able to help the families is something really great."
From there, the podcast has expanded to coverage of dangers at border crossings, current news and what AFGE is working on to keep BPAs safe.
Moran said that the production value of the show has skyrocketed from its humble beginnings of an office microphone and a laptop to higher-tech equipment, courtesy of a grant by AFGE National.
"It has evolved," he laughs. "We started off with just a few microphones and a digital recorder. We wrote an email to [AFGE National President] J. David, who asked the communications department to help us out. They sent us some of their old equipment from the radio shows, so we were able to use that in the beginning and continue to use that to this day."
The show's staff has also grown. At first, the show was Moran recording alone in his home. Now, a team meets every Monday to put together the show and decide what content to include in the next recording, leaving space for last minute requests from lawmakers or breaking news.
With better tech and larger audiences, including lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Moran hopes to grow the podcast into new formats by trying out a talk radio style show, and to continue covering the issues that affect agents at the border.
"Right now, the big topics that we're talking about are centered around immigration reform. Use of force by border patrol agents is a big issue right now, we're constantly being criticized for that, and yet our agents reluctantly use force," Moran said. "This is a dangerous job and we're working against some people who are looking to do us harm. So we need to ensure that agents are able to defend themselves, and that they get the proper training."
More than anything, Moran hopes that listeners see the good that Border Patrol agents are doing – and the good that AFGE is doing for the agents.
"This job is putting out a lot of fires and going to the next one," he said. "We're our own worst enemy, when we don't tout our successes. And many times the agency and our own membership are unaware about some of the things we're doing. I think this show allows us to talk about some of the things we've been able to do to help people."