John Heaston


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Twitter @HeastonJohn

John Heaston is editor and publisher of The Reader and El Perico. Heaston co-founded The Reader in 1994.

Chris Bowling

News Editor

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Chris Bowling Twitter @chrismbowling

Chris has worked for The Reader since January 2020. As an investigative reporter and news editor he’s taken deep dives into topics such as police transparency, affordable housing and COVID-19. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Chris came to Nebraska to study at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass Communication and traveled for internships at the Tampa Bay Times, Minneapolis Star Tribune and Atlanta Journal Constitution before moving to Omaha and joining The Reader.

Bridget Fogarty

Report for America The Reader/El Perico Reporter

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Bridget Fogarty Twitter @BridgeFogs

Bridget Fogarty joined The Reader and El Perico in 2021 through Report for America, a national program that pairs, and helps pay for, journalists with newsrooms.

Karlha Velásquez

Associate Publisher, El Perico

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Karlha Velásquez joined El Perico in 2019 and has since become its associate publisher and editorial leader.

Mark McGaugh

Mark is a journalist and multimedia producer with First Sky Omaha, a partner of The Omaha Reader.

Mark is an Omaha-native and a proud graduate of Florida A&M University. He’s been working as a journalist and producer since 2015, however, he’s been with the reader since late 2019/early 2020. Mark enjoys the work The Reader does and is pleased to give my community a voice through honest journalism and story-telling. Mark is a strong believer in good journalism as a form of activism and protecting the vitality of the “fourth estate.”

Lynn Sanchez

Creative Services Director

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Lynn Sanchez Twitter @Lynniji

Lynn Sanchez joined The Reader in 2020. She coordinates The Reader’s cultural coverage including music, movies, art and monthly picks.

Tylonda Sanders

Account Manager and Digital Services Associate

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Tylonda is a newbie at The Reader, having just started at the end of May 2021 to sell the ads and digital marketing services. Although not working as a writer technically, she counts as one of her personal heroes Ida B. Wells. She believes that knowledge is power, and the written word is key to that knowledge. She has a degree from the University of Nebraska- Lincoln in English Literature and is a voracious reader. Her background includes editing and writing book reviews for a quarterly magazine and more recently hospitality sales for a large hotel chain.

Anton Johnson

Reporting Intern

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Anton Johnson Twitter @antoniswriting

Anton Johnson is a summer 2021 intern for The Reader.

Ryan Syrek

Film Critic, Section Editor

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Ryan Syrek Twitter @thereaderfilm

When the cinematic majesty of Blade II was unleashed upon the world in March of 2002, so were Ryan’s opinions on movies. Over the last nearly two decades, he has written thousands of reviews and endured at least as many insults for those reviews. He isn’t produce but is a certified Rotten Tomato (critic), and his work has been syndicated at The Boulder Weekly. He intends to help establish a Midwest Film Critic Society but has also been saying that for a long time now.

Leah Cates


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Leah Cates Twitter @cates_leah

After her reporting internship ended in May 2021, Leah stuck around as an Editorial & Membership Associate. When she’s not writing stories about gender and education justice, like “Let Trans Kids Be Kids” and “The Fight to Change Social Studies in Nebraska,” Leah is busy in her Editorial & Membership Associate role; she pens Omaha Jobs columns about employment equity, creates the daily newsletter, develops social media strategy and more. Leah, who served as Editor-in-Chief of Vassar College’s student newspaper, is currently applying to Women’s and Gender Studies PhD programs, where she hopes to blend journalistic and academic writing to make academic research more accessible to the general public.

Mike Krainek

Mike Krainek

Art Editor

A former instructor in journalism, film studies and the Humanities for 40 plus years at the college and secondary level, Mike Krainak has been the Contributing Visual Arts Editor at TR for the past decade mentoring a group of well over two dozen writers who’ve covered the Metro arts scene. In addition, he is a free lance writer whose film and fine arts criticism and essays have been published for the past 18 years in TR, the former City Weekly, the regional arts journal Review in Kansas City and for several art venues and various fine artists as well.

B.J. Huchtemann

Senior Contributing Writer, Hoodoo Columnist

photo credit: Chip Duden

B.J. Huchtemann is a senior contributing writer and columnist for The Reader. Her “Hoodoo” column covers blues, Americana and other types of roots music with an emphasis on the value of live music performances. She is a 2015 recipient of the Keeping the Blues Alive Award for Journalism from the Blues Foundation in Memphis. She received a 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards. In addition to her work in music journalism, she also has extensive experience in communication, advertising, media and television production.  

Sara Locke

Sara Locke

Food Editor

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Sara Locke is an award winning journalist, copywriter, and author living, working, and raising her three children in Omaha. Nebraska. Locke has served as the Contributing Editor for The Reader’s Dish section since 2014, and is passionately driven to share not only the dishes that make Omaha worth talking about, but the human interest stories behind each menu. 

Robyn Murray

Robyn Murray

Copy/News Editor

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Robyn Murray has been copy/news editor at The Reader since 2019. A former news director at KVNO News in Omaha, Robyn has reported for National Public Radio, Public Radio International, WNYC and WBUR. Her print work has appeared in USA Today and Business Day in Johannesburg, South Africa. Robyn now works in nonprofit communications and gets her journalism fix from The Reader, where she also contributes the periodic column DIS|PLACE. Robyn received her bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University and her master’s in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Backbeat Columnist Virginia Kathryn Gallner is a songwriter and storyteller.

She has been involved in the Omaha music scene since 2012 as a performing artist. She has also volunteered with local festivals and nonprofits to give back to the community. Outside of Omaha, she has participated in the Silkroad Ensemble’s Global Musician Workshop and Richard Thompson’s Frets & Refrains songwriting workshop. She was nominated by the Omaha Arts and Entertainment Awards committee for Best Blues Artist in 2017 and Best Folk/Americana in 2018 and 2019.

Previously, she has freelanced for Omaha Magazine. She currently works as a graduate research assistant at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Arjav Rawal

Arjav Rawal

Editorial & Membership Associate

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Arjav Rawal Twitter @ArjavRawal

Arjav joined The Reader’s staff in May 2022, taking over for Leah Cates. He was previously a reporter for iHeartMedia, where he anchored newscasts for radio stations in six different states and briefly covered the Nebraska Legislature. Before working in journalism, Arjav was a campaign organizer for California congressman Eric Swalwell and U.S Senate candidate Barbara Bollier. A Bay Area native, Arjav came to Omaha to follow his partner Ashley through medical school. They live in the Dundee area with their two cats, George and Addie.

Isa Luzarraga

Isa Luzarraga

Summer 2022 Editorial Intern

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Isa Luzarraga Twitter @IsaLuzarraga

Isa Luzarraga (she/her) is a current honors student at Emerson College in Boston, MA majoring in journalism and minoring in media studies and Latinx studies. She graduated from Millard North High School in 2021. Her work in print and digital journalism throughout high school was recognized when the Journalism Education Association named her Nebraska’s Journalist of the Year for 2021. Despite attending college out-of-state, Isa visits her hometown whenever she can and is grateful to be back for the summer. When not reading or taking care of her two rabbits, you can find Isa catching a show at The Slowdown, grabbing ice cream at Dairy Chef, or coaching speech at her alma mater.

Sydney Johnson

Sydney Johnson

Summer 2022 Editorial Intern

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Sydney Johnson Twitter @Syd_5014

Sydney Johnson is a 2022 summer editorial intern for The Reader and El Perico. The Omaha native is pursuing degrees in Media and Journalism and Spanish at the University of South Dakota. Sydney is also currently serving as the editor-in-chief of The Volante, the student newspaper at USD. So far, Sydney says the highlight of her career has been covering the Women’s March Madness Basketball Tournament in Wichita, Kansas.