Friday, March 16, 2007

MAKING THE STORY: How to Make an Interview Thirty Times More Difficult than Necessary in One Easy Step

-Rebecca Jacobson (Arts Desk)-

Step 1:
Forget the microphone.

That’s all you have to do to make an interview thirty times more difficult than it normally should be.

I was certain that it was in the kit when I left the station. I’d even opened the bag and rummaged. Maybe I assumed that the black lump at the bottom of the bag was the microphone, when it was really a little mic stand. I was so delighted to get to interview this woman (just in time before her scheduled C-section) that I took the bag and made the hour and a half trek to Annandale to interview her and her kids. I got into the house at about 4:30; the kids were excited and they were ready to go. They sat down, ready for their interview; the girls had put on their best behavior manners. It is hard for an enthusiastic four-year-old and a two-year-old to keep calm in front of an audience.

I pulled the flash recorder and the headphones out of the bag, plugged the card into its slot…. Wait a minute, the bag is empty now… what am I missing?

THE MICROPHONE! (Insert stream of profanities running through my mind here. I did take care not to say them out loud in front of the kids.) Of all the things I could have left behind, I had left the microphone. This must be a joke; somewhere the overseeing eyes of Journalism Candid Camera were getting a good laugh.

I apologized to my interviewee and explained I’d be right back with a microphone.

Did I mention this was 4:30 on a Friday afternoon? I spent the next two and a half hours in the car between NPR and Annandale just to retrieve a new kit and do the interview. So just remember before you head out: open up the WHOLE kit, take everything out, triple check its existence (have a passerby assure you that, yes, you are in fact seeing a microphone, a recorder, headphones, etc.) and then duct tape it to your person so you do not leave it behind.

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.

Monday, March 12, 2007

MAKING THE STORY: A Tale of Two Muslims

-Nour Akkad (Washington Desk)-

Sunni’s and Shiite’s…heard them before I presume?! Well I am not about to delve into the most complex situation in Iraq but I am taking a look at how the War in Iraq is affecting Sunni and Shiite Muslims living in the good ‘ol US of A.

According to my inside sources (my Muslim friends), friendships have been broken and intermarriage is taboo. For some, however, making Facebook groups such as “sunni + shi3i= sushi” is as dramatic as it gets…and they say “stop the hate.” So the story element is there. Interviews?, but I do have them lined up, from Imams to families from both sides of the aisle giving me their perspective on the situation.

So until I come back from my wild and crazy spring break in Arkansas stay tuned for updates from my jaw dropping, un-cut, with no commercial break interviews…it will leave you breathless and wanting more!! Days of Our Lives has got NOTHING compared to my story! Actually, I am not too positive about it being un-cut and with no commercial breaks…I am only an intern, but sometimes I like to believe otherwise!