I noticed that sometimes in your articles you quote the interviewee say things that aren't on the broadcast. Do you listen to the unedited interviews and if so, how much gets left out?
I listen to the first edit, which means post-taping but pre-ready-for-broadcast. Usually they start out around 60-75 minutes long and then are cut down for time/clarity/whether we need to play another segment. So it’s really very interview dependent. (It would be impossible to produce the website after the final edit, because sometimes the show is being edited literally 2 minutes before airtime.)
Hi Melody, Just a little fan letter from me to you: I am a 23 year old woman, not-yet-college graduate, and huge fan of fresh air before I was ever on Twitter or Tumblr. These are the two social media avenues that I currently follow you/the show on. You do a beautiful job of managing these and you are (in my opinion) THE example of how to curate social media for a fan base and audience. I will be very sad to see you go, and want you to know how much I've enjoyed your talent!
Thanks. That’s really sweet. I have to say, I’ve really enjoyed working here and struggled with the decision to leave for the better part of a year. But it’ll be good. I’m excited to help train a new hire and get the ball rolling with someone else later this summer.
What's the most challenging part of working for fresh air?
The deadlines are sometimes tough. When we run two interviews and a review, I have to write both interviews for the web (anywhere from 800-1000 words each) write captions, headlines, etc. for each website and write/produce the show’s billboard — in about 3 hours. It’s not fun when there are 10 gajillion people asking for things. But I kind of feed off of that pace and end up mainly enjoying it, as weird as that sounds.
“I’ve got plates thrown at me, I’ve got scallop marks on my face that I’ve gotten thrown at me. But not for one second would I challenge the chef for that. In today’s age, that might sound crazy, but when you’re in that moment, you don’t challenge the chef. I considered myself very lucky to be picked to work in those kitchens.”—Top Chef Masters winner Marcus Samuelsson
“The narrative of a black chef didn’t exist. Black people have always cooked and been part of serving but not from a chef perspective. Not in these establishments — the three-star, highest establishments. So when they say ‘Marcus Samuelsson’ coming in — that’s a Swedish name, and then they saw me, it was a shock. I was not applying for the dishwashing job. I was applying for a chef job, so being able to, in a non-threatening way, and getting the job just like anybody else — they were just not used to it. They had just never seen it, ever.”—Marcus Samuelsson on Fresh Air.
I love learning about different topics and reading the books/articles we feature on the show. I feel like I’ve gone to graduate school five times over. And learning about so many topics — and researching and writing about them — has allowed me to hone in on exactly what I want to learn more about. (Also: free mugs. Never have to pay for another mug again. Ever.)
What's the drill for your show when a guest cancels last-minute?
We’re lucky because we’re not live. We pre-tape all of our interviews and then the show goes live at noon. (This means Terry’s sitting in a studio reading introductions to segments and things like that, but the actual interview is on a tape.) So if a guest cancels, we scramble to fill a slot — or we use something from our shelf. (We always try to have 2-3 interviews ready to go.)
This doesn't really have to do with your programming, but what would one very eager college student have to do in order to acquire an internship at NPR? More specifically, in the Fresh Air offices?
Unfortunately the show doesn’t have an internship program, but our station WHYY has interns and NPR has interns too. So you should apply to those if you’re interested. (Explain why you want to work in public radio and send any clips you have.)
“I knew who Deep Throat was for years and years and years. And by the way, had you asked me on this station, on NPR, on WHYY, 15 years ago, I would happily have told you. I told everyone. But no one listened to me. It was very, very, very frustrating. Carl had never told me who Deep Throat was. …I would not have kept any secrets. I will tell anyone anything I know, and I knew that Deep Throat was Mark Felt. I figured it out from a clue in the book, and if I gave a speech with 500 people and [someone] asked me, I told them. I was like a tree falling in the forest that no one hears.”—Nora Ephron on the identity of Deep Throat
Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women. — Nora Ephron
“If I’m following a young person down the street and the young person passes a mirror, I see the fabulous way he or she turns toward it and kind of smiles and checks himself/herself out and they know what they’re going to see. We don’t know. There’s a certain moment where you’re just terrified about what you’re going to see. So if you are forced to look at a mirror, you squint and then gently open your eyes to see if it’s safe. And if it’s not, you close them and walk on.”—Nora Ephron in 2006 on WHYY’s RadioTimes [full interview here]
“I don’t think many passengers realize that when they’re in an airport, and there’s some sort of a problem and they walk up to a ticket counter and they’re talking to someone who’s wearing the uniform of an airline employee, that in many cases they’re not [talking to] an airline employee.”—Today: William McGee details how airlines are cutting costs through regional carriers, outsourcing airline maintenance, mishandling baggage and overbooking airplanes.
“I think it’s like a lot of things about getting older — you have absolutely no imagination that this is actually going to happen to you. You think for quite a while you’re going to be the only person who doesn’t need reading glasses, or the only person who doesn’t go through menopause … and in the end, the only person who isn’t going to die. And then you suddenly are faced with whichever of those things it is, and you can’t believe how unimaginative you have been about what it actually consists of.”—Nora Ephron on NPR.
“As college tuition has consistently outpaced the ability of people to pay out of pocket, debt has been the safety valve of our higher education system. It is what has allowed everything to keep running because people know they have to go to college — they don’t feel they have any choice — so they just continue to borrow and borrow and borrow.”—What’s Driving College Costs Higher?
“They empiricized a sense of higher education quality that revolves around three things: wealth, exclusivity and fame. It’s the wealthy institutions that have the smallest admissions rate and are the most well-known for their students and their professors that always stay atop the list. It’s not a coincidence that every year Harvard and Princeton go back and forth between 1 and 2. US News didn’t invent the idea or the thought that status was a function of wealth, fame and exclusivity. You could say that about lots of things. What they have done is let fuel to the fire and created a mechanism by which universities that haven’t been around for hundreds of years to climb up through the ranks and claw their way past their competitors from a status standpoint.”—Kevin Carey, on US News and World Report college rankings. [full interview here]
“Professors are recruited and paid on their academic reputations, not whether they’re any good at teaching. And there is a desire for status. There is a constant competition with one another. And the thing with reputational competition is that there’s no end to it. You don’t ever reach some point where you’re as good as you can be because the only question is, ‘Are you as good as the university in the next state?’ So there’s no ceiling to how much money colleges and universities can spend competing with one another.”—On today’s Fresh Air, what’s driving college costs higher.
It depends on what you mean by chill…we’re not like, going to happy hours and concerts together every night of the week. (I tend to like to separate my work and life…which I think is healthy.) We did take a train ride together once to New York City…but that was for work.
At work, I see and talk to her constantly because she’s my coworker…and we work together on a show….so I would say the chill/non-chill ratio goes up once I cross through those doors.
“There have always been a lot of Americans who are troubled by the clinical discussions of sex in public life. They suspect — and with some cause — that tricking sexuality out in a lab coat is a way of detaching it from the moral control of the family and the community.”—Geoff Nunberg, Taboo Revival: Talking Private Parts in Public Places
“I’ve had these difficulties lately with the press. This guy almost hit me in the face with a camera in New York the other day. And I find that it’s very, very difficult now to navigate those waters. Everybody I’ve ever worked with — 99.9 percent of the time, I’ve had a successful or very agreeable experience with. And there are these legit press opportunities that you do and then there’s what I call the illegitimate press and in the age of the Internet, they’re very strong and they’re very omnipresent and dealing with them, becomes — and what I’m learning in this last go-round — is that my desire to live a normal life — to have an apartment in New York and to walk out the door like any other New Yorker does and just live my life — it sometimes, it’s not possible.”—Alec Baldwin, on public scrutiny.
Hi Mel--I come from the print world (book publishing) but I've always thought about working for public radio, but always felt that what I do now might not be applicable to working for public radio. I'm an English lit graduate and only did one (really short) journalism internship. Do you have any tips on how I can be more competitive for internships with NPR/local public radio stations and get my foot in the door? Thanks! Love the Fresh Air Tumblr, btw. Great job!
I wrote this for people applying for college internships, but it is still applicable:
I started working at NPR in 2006 as a Kroc Fellow. Before that, I had no exposure to radio and only wrote for my college newspaper. The Kroc was a fantastic way to get into the public radio system, but it’s not the only way to get involved.
Many of my friends who work at NPR, APM, PRI and for local stations started interning at a local station or show, or at NPR in DC. They then started pitching stories to editors and/or stuck around for a temp gig, which turned into permanent employment.
If I were in college now, I’d have a Tumblr, a Facebook page, a Twitter account — and I’d be pumping out content AND reaching out to people online who I liked — corresponding with them, following them and seeing what and how they post. I see a LOT of job postings on social media sites from other journalists. And there are tons of audio producers from NPR/local stations online. I’d follow the people who live close to you and ask how best to pitch ideas…
Public radio is like any other journalism job: writing a lot, reading a lot, being aware of potential story ideas, knowing web stuff to make yourself versatile, etc.
So you probably already have a lot of these skills. I’d call up, explain what you’d like to do, and find out who to talk to (or follow them on Twitter.) And then put together a compelling cover letter with story ideas and voila!
If anyone can think of a better way to list these, by all means PLEASE let me know. I’m a one-woman web shop with limited programming abilities (AP C++ in 12th grade, mainly) and don’t have time to make these look the way they should. But if you’d like to, I’m happy to supply you with the API query I used and anything else you might need.