Tuesday, March 13, 2007

MAKING THE STORY: I'm a Booker, not a Bookie

-Tommy Gillespie (All Things Considered)-

After reading Lisa's alluring post, I feel compelled to expose the somewhat less glamorous but equally essential side of producing a piece for NPR: The Booking.

Yes, that's right, every guest and interviewee—that's every politician and priest, every bass fisherman and Middle East expert—that you hear on NPR has been tracked down, called, cajoled, and convinced to appear by a booker. Within my first days of work at NPR I learned that booking is without a doubt quite an art. On a program like All Things Considered or Morning Edition, the bookings are done by an extremely talented group of people who devote a lot of time and energy to ensuring that they secure the most interesting, articulate, informative, and entertaining guests possible.

As an intern, I've tried my hand at booking for ATC on a few occasions. There’s an extremely convoluted series of steps involved: What’s the host’s schedule? Is the guest a good talker? What studios are available? Is the guest going to be in house? Or is it an ISDN, sync, or phoner? Thankfully, booking for my Intern Edition piece is a little more straightforward. I’ve had luck in contacting a local mayor, high school principle, newspaper editor, and a geologist. Check back next week for updates from the field on my story on dry wells and water treatment in Troublesome Creek, Kentucky.

And remember, you listener with your radio dial tuned to the far far left, when the voice of a shopping cart historian or an expert basket weaver streams through your speakers, special thanks go to those humblest of unsung heroes - the bookers.


Becky said...

Oh yes, I've had to deal with booking too. One of the most unpleasant experiences, if I may say, especially when all your guests are out of the United States.

Jenee, News and Notes said...

All I have to say is AMEN.