I have been lucky enough to work on a few public radio talk shows. Before a show gets on the air, producers, interns and volunteers help the host get ready by pitching topics, booking and sometimes pre-interviewing guests, and doing lots of research and writing. Often, people are surprised to hear that radio producers write! But writing is a big part of the job. The host of the show needs a briefing and questions. An introduction and promotional materials must be written and so forth. Here are links to a few favorite episodes I produced over the years:
The Diane Rehm Show:
Steve Lopez is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times. A chance encounter with a homeless man playing a violin led to a column and later a book and a film–and a lifelong friend.
Growing up, I loved to read about the adventures of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy and all of the Peanuts gang. So I was thrilled when I was assigned to work on David Michaelis’ book on Peanuts creator Charles Schulz. This show was a good example of what producers do every day–summarizing copious amounts of material, in this case 600 pages, into a one-hour program. This program aired in October and was selected for a holiday re-broadcast too.
The Kojo Nnamdi Show:
This was one of the first segments I produced for the show–and it was a fun challenge. In Only Revolutions, Mark Danielewski, a National Book Award finalist, follows young lovers advancing through history. If you read the book forward. You can also read it backward and see the young lovers go from the future to the past. And Danielweski does not write in paragraphs but uses the layout of the page to convey ideas. Did I mention he sometimes makes up words? Intrigued? Hear more:
When I was assigned to work on the show featuring David Plowden, a photographer and the author of Vanishing Point, I was worried. How could you talk about photography on the radio? Plowden, who says he takes only ten or fifteen good photos a year, turned out to be a fascinating guest.
This show brought together a number of local and national experts to talk about a sad and alarming trend–a rise in mid-life suicides. Although this show is older, unfortunately, the discussion is still relevant as the trend has not abated.
The Point on WCAI:
While much as been written about the Tibet, writer Thomas Laird had a true inside scoop. He met personally with the Dalai Lama over a three-year period, resulting in the 500-page The Story of Tibet: Conversations with the Dalai Lama. This shown was also chosen for a holiday re-broadcast.
For this show, we left the studio and headed to Cape Cod hospital. We had the chance to visit the cardiac catheterization lab and see the doctors and other medical staff treating the disease up close.