16 December, 2008


So much for being original. Word of Mouth host Virginia Prescott shattered my illusions today when she sent along a link to Stuff White People Like #105: Unpaid Internships. According to SWPL, "White people view the internship as their foot into the door to such high-profile low-paying career fields as journalism, film, politics, art, non-profits, and anything associated with a museum." Got me on that one.

For the record, this is my last "official" week as an unpaid intern at NHPR, as noted by Laura Knoy in the final moments of The Exchange yesterday.

03 December, 2008

Fast Advertising

Today at Word of Mouth, my mission was to nail down Tom Farber, a calculus teacher in San Diego who sells ad space on the bottom of his tests and quizzes cover his class photocopying costs. I called Mr. Farber at his home in San Diego this morning for a quick pre-interview, but before we got very far, he said, "Hey! I'm on TV! I'll call you back." Mr. Farber didn't call back, but that's not surprising given how much media attention this teacher's story has generated in the past 48-hours. He's been a busy guy.

The San Diego Union Tribune and other area papers broke the story before Thanksgiving, though it seems to have gone relatively unnoticed by the national media until Monday, when USA Today ran a story on Farber's advertising scheme. Since then, Farber has been under the media microscope. He was interviewed on As It Happens yesterday and CNN this morning. Some bloggers dissed the concept of advertising on student tests, but others, like the Daily Kos, devoured it, calling Farber's bottom-of-the-test ads "brilliant".

Mr. Farber kindly took a day off of teaching to humor the media. I tracked him down again, booked an interview for several hours later, wrote a script and Virginia handled the rest in front of the mic. Our interview with Tom Farber will air on Monday.

21 November, 2008

Mapping success, posting failure

This morning, I spent a couple of hours on mapbuilder.net mapping the places, from Kodiak, AK to Birmingham, AL, where I've sent applications this fall--for kicks. Map-building went well, but I couldn't figure out how to embed my creation in the blog. I can fumble through the most basic html writing, but Google Maps API codes are beyond me. I'll have to wait for Brady, NHPR's new media guru, to help me on Monday.

15 November, 2008

November Visit to Franconia

Missing the sap-scented air of the Franconia woods, I packed my car with leftovers and laundry and headed north on I-93. It's been a gray, eerily warm and blustery day. A day that brings to mind my favorite line in all of literature, Herman Melville's, "a damp, drizzly November in my soul," spoken by Ishmael in the opening lines of Moby Dick. Today the dirt roads of Franconia and Sugar Hill--Bickford, Sunset Hill, Laffayette, and Ridge--were my sea.

05 November, 2008

Election Day Redux

It's been a whirlwind 48-hours at NHPR and in newsrooms across the country in preparation for the myriad unknowns and inevitable craziness of election night coverage.

Americans went to the polls yesterday, and even those infamous undecided voters--whom, it turns out, were perhaps not so undecided--chose their candidate.

I crunched numbers for the New Hampshire State Senate races, last night, while national electoral college results were tallied and the state's Democratic candidates declared winners of all U.S. Senate and House seats, as well as the governor's post. Today, my election night partner Dan Gorenstein reported that Democrats retained control of the State House, though the top of the ticket wins for the party didn't translate into sweeping victories in the lower races, as some had projected.

I left NHPR at 11:30 pm--late, but earlier than anticipated. Driving home along the quiet streets of Concord, I heard the official news of Barack Obama's election, and of John McCain's concession. Once home, I carried my laptop around the apartment as I made lunch and laid out clothes for the morning, not wanting to miss a word or a beat. And just before turning out the lights, I watched Obama speak to an excited downtown Chicago and to millions of Americans across the country, like me, glued to their television screens.

My alarm sounded at 5:15 this morning. Post-shower and post-espresso I hit the streets, coffee shops, and gas stations of Concord with my microphone to talk to Granite State voters about the emotional aftermath of this hard-fought election. We heard one McCain supporter's grievances on Word of Mouth today and I also produced a montage of my conversations with voters that aired later on, during a local break from All Things Considered.

28 October, 2008

On the Airwaves

My first story about a new "natural playground" on the University of New Hampshire campus aired on Word of Mouth today!

12 October, 2008

NH Media Makers

What is NH Media Makers? I headed to a coffee shop in Newmarket this morning to find out.

NH Media Makers--I now count myself as a member--is an informal monthly gathering of bloggers, filmmakers, after-work podcasters, writers, software junkies, artists and practitioners of other mostly tech-related pursuits. The meetings serve as a place to talk about current projects, bounce ideas, share tools and n-e-t-w-o-r-k, that word Middlebury's Career Services team drilled into our minds. They were onto something. I had several conversations that might lead to future collaborations: NH Media Makers on public radio and a local voices documentary-style podcast, two possibilities.

In this rapidly changing new media and social media landscape, I find myself grappling with what my role is and how I ultimately feel about this uber-connected and techie world that we're creating. I'm split down the middle: excited by the openness and new ways that stories can be told and shared, resistant to the prospect of spending my days in front of a computer screen making media about a world I'm growing increasingly disconnected from.

One thing is certain: it's an interesting time to be entering the world of journalism.

07 October, 2008

Voices of NH voters

I spent the morning getting some vox pop around Concord on what voters hoped to hear from John McCain and Barack Obama in tonight's debate. The overwhelming response: "I don't want to hear them fight again." A couple of the clips were featured on NPR's All Things Considered tonight.

04 October, 2008


I wanted to learn the ropes of public radio through intensive, hands-on experience. At NHPR, I am.

On Mondays and Tuesdays, I'm with The Exchange, a daily call-in show covering issues and affairs that affect Granite Staters. During the show, which airs from 9 to 10 am, I man the phone lines. At first, I found the task daunting: I had trouble distilling callers' often long-winded comments into short cues for Laura, the host, on the call screen, while simultaneously explaining, "I'm going to have you turn down your radio and listen through the phone. When you hear Laura call your name, you're on-air." Flustered, I absorbed nothing and typed novels on the call screen. Now, several weeks in, I look forward to my Monday morning challenge of separating the wheat from the chaff.

Post-show, I gather with Laura, Keith and Dan for a production meeting. Afterward, my primary task is to write a roadmap for the next day and research topics for upcoming shows. I'm also in the midst of revamping The Exchange's page on Facebook and last Wednesday, I made my first on-air contribution to The Exchange, a 34-second montage of House floor speeches in defense of and against version one of the infamous bailout bill. The montage aired in the billboard of the show, The Disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street.

I spend Wednesdays and Thursdays with Word of Mouth, a new show on NHPR that explores current trends and new ideas, and broadcasts live from 12 to 1 pm. My days are as varied as they are busy, with the morning coffee-sipping production meeting as the only constant. In my first month, I brainstormed show ideas, booked guests and blogged on clubbing green in Rotterdam, a puppet festival in the Green Mountains and shrinking groceries. I pre-interviewed guests on topics from tech etiquette to technology failure. I wrote and produced several promos--an exercise in succinctness and the art of smooth board operation. I also wrote Virginia's script for a segment, Crows Know Who You Are.

After running circles this past Wednesday trying to contact a Fox News reporter about her article on mind-reading security devices, Thursday felt like a day of small victories. We'd been talking about getting Word of Mouth on Twitter for weeks; on Thursday morning, I successfully tracked down the owner of the username, 'wordofmouth,' and got her permission to adopt the name. I put forth Word of Mouth's first Twitter query, "How are you using Twitter this election season?," and got several tweets which we aired in the show close. In the afternoon, I ventured into the field for the first time with my new Marantz PMD620 and Shure mic--both recent birthday presents--to gather some vox pop on voters' expectations for the evening's debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden. Initially I had difficulty thinking on my feet, but interview by interview, I felt more sure of myself. Upon returning to the station, I delved into editing and didn't quit until debate time.

A few takeaways from my first month at NHPR: live radio is never predictable nor dull; interview questions should be conversation starters, not essays; edit on line intersections and hard vowels for crisp tape.

21 September, 2008

Paying the rent

My weekly donation of thirty-plus hours to NHPR isn't entirely conducive to a steady part-time job. Enter, Craigslist gigs: one of the riskier, but more interesting ways to put a few dollars in the pocket.

Take I: Hampton Falls Jumper Classic and a better-left-unnamed traveling saleswoman from Pittsburgh and I; a makeshift boutique under a party tent with blouses, bags and bangles to be peddled; two days and nights of rain and wind alla Hurricane Ike and one endless long weekend. Retail--not my thing.

Take II: Bean Farm Road in tiny Meriden, NH, a self-catered wedding. The setting was classic New England; everything else, however, was far from run-of-the-mill. Upon arrival, I was promptly ushered by a pair of men in traditional Indian dress into a bustling kitchen, ablaze with purple, green and gold saris, warmed by smells of simmering curry and abuzz with laughter and chatter in a language not my own. For five hours, as I chopped, squeezed, baked and served alongside the bride's aunts--who, I learned hail from eastern India--I felt welcomed into a culture where family and food are paramount. The womens' voices stayed with me on the midnight drive home on Route 89, as did aromas of cumin and curry, wafting from Ziplock bags of chickpeas, rice and naan in my backseat.

20 September, 2008

From the archives

My early experimentation with FinalCut Pro, a tribute to the Vermont landscape interwoven with reflections on my final winter at Middlebury College.

15 September, 2008

Sultry September

The heavy summer air has not yet ceded to autumn crispness in the North Country. In the thick of night, peepers still hum. Restless, needing space to muse, I have taken to nightwalking, soothed by Concord's dimly lit streets and tidy lawns. After dark, windows--shadowed or glowing--become vivid lightbox still lifes that beckon a nightwalker to pause.