Yesterday at noon I appeared live on New Hampshire Public Radio’s Word of Mouth. I was interviewed by the guest host about stories I’ve done for other outlets, including one on corals, another on clams, and a third about senior citizens working well into their golden years. The night before, the executive producer emailed me a rough script with the questions I might be asked. When I woke up in the morning, I made a series of notes based on those questions.
I biked over to WBUR – one of the two NPR stations in Boston – to do the live interview. I arrived ten or fifteen minutes before noon, was led into a studio there (that I had booked the day before), and did a sound check with the team in New Hampshire at NHPR. They asked me what I had for breakfast (Cinnamon Harvest cereal with light soy milk) to check my microphone level, asked me to lower the volume in my headphones slightly since they were hearing it over the mic, and told me I’d be live at 12:07. Ninety seconds before I went live, they checked back in to make sure I could hear them okay.
At 12:07, I did my 12-minute segment for Word of Mouth. I referenced my notes when I was speaking, and listened to the clips from the stories as they were played. So that’s pretty much the kind of thing that happens at the end of the process I outlined in my first post (though usually my story airs without me being a live piece of it!).
At the very beginning of that same process, I have to generate ideas. Just before I left for WBUR, I spoke with a professor in the chemistry and biochemistry department at University of Colorado at Boulder. He does very interesting research on the bacteria that populate our guts, mouths, skin, etc, and I wanted to see whether I might be able to pitch a story to a public radio program about his work. So in a single day yesterday, I worked at both ends of the process that leads to airing a story on the radio.