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Thursday, October 30, 2008
Visiting the NPR mothership
I don't really take vacations, not anymore. I take time off from work, but that's often in the service of doing other work (the Smallville never sleeps) or, these days, staying home and taking care of a walking one-year-old, which is way more work than sitting at my desk in Austin and checking my Twitterzzz.
So rather than bitch (which I just did), I just accept the idea of working vacations and try to make them as productive as possible. Sometimes I am rewarded at the end of the week with something awesome like Wurstfest (YES! Starts tomorrow!). This time, I got to fly on the radio's dime for a trip to Washington D.C. to visit NPR headquarters.
Some background: late last year, I started doing some short interviews with All Things Considered talking about personal tech. It dovetailed nicely with my day job and only happened because one of their editors happened to find my work blog.
I've done about four or five segments since then, which always involves going to the University of Texas KUT studio (which upstairs the wonderful Austin City Limits stage sits) and doing a remote recording with Michele Norris.
Over the last few months, there've been hints that they're going to beef up their tech coverage and wanted me to be a part of that. I'm not sure exactly what I'm at liberty to say about it (at NPR, they're so nice they don't ever threaten you; I think they just expect everyone to do what they ask out of politeness), but I think I can say that on November 10th, we'll see the fruits of that push.
They offered to fly me to D.C. to meet the staff, get a little more "Radio polished" and help brainstorm some ideas for this tech coverage. I let my Statesman bosses know right away and they were pleased. I didn't want anyone to think I was skipping town or some sort of job interview.
I spent a day and a half at All Things Considered. Everything functions like a regular newsroom, but the one thing I noticed is that most everyone there has a bunch of Sony audio equipment on their desks and stacks upon stacks of books. It's not like my desk with the Street Fighter II figurines and the (mint, in box!) Posh Spice action figures.
The morning news meeting was a dazzling display of people who read the news a lot and are seemingly obsessive about knowing what's going all over the country. There would be an election story idea that would come up and people would cite specific stories that ran in regional newspapers. "Oh, you know, the Kansas City Star said...." Wow.
I finally met Michele Norris face-to-face and she was as nice and as smooth as I was expecting. She talked about wanting to get rid of her old computer by backing a truck over it and I found myself just lost in those lulling words.
I also recorded a segment with Robert Siegel, whom I'd never worked with before. That one should air on November 10. I'll give you a heads-up when it appears online.
There was a also a Russian vodka bar where someone got belligerent and almost thrown out, a late-night chili run and a miserable flight back home where I was crowded in on all sides by beefy people, a drink cart and someone who was trying to lie fully horizontal in their cheap airline seat.
So... the usual, you know. Shit just seems to happen. The rest of my week, I'm spending working on stuff for TWOP, going to a wedding for a very close friend and hanging out with Lilly and Rebecca.
Both nights I was away, I thought a lot about my daughter. It's the first time I've been gone overnight and away since she was born. I was surprised the jolt that hit me knowing I couldn't just go to her room and see her sleep or watch her eat in the morning. I'm told that the second night I was gone, she wouldn't go to sleep and the only thing that calmed her down was putting a T-shirt I'd already worn into the crib with her.
It was nice to be missed.
Oh, before I forget -- a Smallville recap was posted earlier this week. The deets:
Doomy, Baby -- The show rebounds with a taut, well-paced, Lois-free thrill fest that puts Davis the paramedic at center stage. He keeps having blackouts and people keep turning up dead. Is it Doomsday yet?
The next "Trailers Without Pity" episode, for Fast & Furious, should be posted next week, as early as Monday or Tuesday.
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