Fri January 27, 2012
By Danielle Lima
"Rebecca, is there anything Danielle can do?"
"...This computer is taking FOREVER to load!"
"Hey, I know. Danielle, I want you to write a blog."
If you had been mischievously crouched in the corner behind the Word of Mouth cubicle walls today at about 1:15P.M, this is the inside scoop you would've scored: Danielle is starting her blog, and there's no stopping these spastic keyboard fingers. It's here. It's started. It's 5 minutes ago.
This is going to be a sort of documentation-type blog. I'm going to tell all you curious folk what its like to be a 21-year-old college senior in an entire office of people who are double my IQ with their quick-witted facts and treasury of vocab.
I'll begin by telling a short story of how I got here. One dark, cloudy morning in the beginning of January, there was a choke of thunder - more fearsome than the dominant turkey during mating season, as Dwight Schrute would claim. The spiraling of clouds over the NHPR studio here in Concord began to disperse, and thus peaked a ray of glimmering light. Outsiders may have thought they were hallucinating, and to a sci-fi movie producer, it likely looked to be a poor display of special effects. From that light came the fresh, optimistic, yet naive spirit of an intern, which teleported into the receiving part of the building, where a storage room of specimen sit emotionless, just waiting for the chance to get up to the sixth-floor and live out their journalistic dreams. As one was chosen by the spirit, the body came to life, while employees rushed for the finishing touches - paperwork, a signature, and that new-intern smell.
That was my attempt at being creative. But rather I think it came off a little abnormal. Don't be concerned, I'm totally kidding.
My interest in NHPR first sparked from my sickness of contemporary radio. Once it got to the point that I was actually starting to like the kind songs I would never normally listen to, I knew I had to stop. So I tried listening to the lower end of the F.M. dial, and became very fond of one particular political news station. This was odd for me, because everyone who knows me knows I know nothing about politics. In fact, half the time I was listening, I had no idea what they were talking about. I just liked to listen and hoped to gain some knowledge or opinion. Another confession: I based my first opportunity to vote for our country's president... on looks. Don't hate, I was 18. I wonder if the number of people who vote that base their decision off of anything besides the candidate's actual philosophy have any significant influence on the outcome. Would I have been better off not voting at that point? Well, I guess for you it would depend on who I voted for. (Looks? I think I just gave myself away.)
The bottom line is, my interest in talk radio had been born.
So anyway, with my radio on "scan" I often caught 5-second blurbs of various stories, but that was enough to captivate me on many instances. There were many times I'd be in my car before class, knowing I should head in, but didn't want to miss the end of the story. I noticed a trend in where I was stopping my radio scan time after time: 88.3. Nashua's NHPR station. Not going to lie, maybe 6 months ago I saw an NPR t-shirt and didn't know what it was. Now I understood the fascination. And with that, a new chapter of my life began to unfold.
Upon searching for internships to fulfill the requirement of my degree in Communications, of course, the first things that came to mind were the top dogs: major television, news, and radio stations. I kept the virtue that this was likely to be a once-in-my-lifetime thing, and I wanted it to be big, and to be something I was truly excited for. It didn't help that one of my close friends was doing her internship in game operations at the Boston Celtics. I wanted that kind of glory.
Ok, I'm rambling a bit too much. Long story short, NHPR was one of my top choices for internship, but upon reviewing my list of places I wanted to apply, I was told by an advisor that these places would be very competitive, and thus, to land an internship there would be a major accomplishment managed mainly by the highest of journalistic scholars and networking wizards. But this didn't discourage me, I still applied, with a smaller station in mind for backup, as well.
So, with all this said, imagine my shock when my own literature professor one day in class, mentioned that she was a host for the Weekend Edition of NHPR. My jaw dropped. I casually picked it back up. I didn't even have the courage to say anything that day. I was far too ecstatic. I had to collect my thoughts.
After speaking with her the following class, she told me she would talk to the producer and put in a good word for me. She knew my writing style and was definitely willing to support me. I remember being in the parking lot, calling my boyfriend at work. I was in rare form that day. I was shaking with excitement and pacing back and forth alongside my car. Definitely a series of moments I won't forget for a long time.
Many e-mails later, I landed myself a phone interview with Word of Mouth's senior producer Rebecca Lavoie, and upon hanging up the phone, I was officially NHPR's newest intern.
Waking up at 5:30A.M. on Wednesday, January 18th was a challenge for me. On any typical night, I'm just going to bed at this time. The crazy, nocturnal life of a college student. Not even Red Bull could help me in this situation. But with time to spare and my GPS set, I headed north for Concord with barrels of anxiety pounding through my skull. Will they like me? Do they expect me to know everything about the station? Will I be able to live up to their expectations? Will I know where to go once I get there? I know, all normal "first day" thoughts. We've all been there.
Equipped with the knowledge that the studio was located on the 6th floor, I walked into the large corporate building and headed straight ahead for the elevator. When the doors re-opened, I was in the small lobby-area with a reception desk to my left. Minutes later, Rebecca greeted me at the door and brought me on a short tour of the studio. The floor has sort of a track which runs along the perimeter of the floor, with offices along the outside and studios, control boards, and miscellaneous rooms in the center. It was neat to gain a sense of where the broadcast I listened to so devotedly was derived from.
I was introduced to so many people, and I am the type of person who forgets somebody's name within seconds of them telling me. I actually started a little list in my notebook to help me remember. It's placed discretely so if anyone ever finds my notebook laying around, they likely won't open to that page.
That first day, I spent a lot of time watching over the shoulders of Rebecca and Taylor (both producers for Word of Mouth) and Virginia (Host of the program.) By the way, I thought it was really neat to be working with the voice of the show that so many hear and know. In fact, upon meeting Virginia, Rebecca, and Taylor, I definitely recognized their names from hearing them on the radio, and sort of felt a desire to brag that I was working so close with these local celebs.
I didn't realize everyone worked so closely on everything that goes into the show in general. The research, the writing, the editing- it's truly a team effort to get everything done, one day at a time. It seemed there was always something to be done. If you were done with the current day, you'd be working on the next day, or next couple days.
Because Word of Mouth airs at 12 noon, I was able to sit in the studio and witness it live, on air. It was amazing to see how everything came together - Taylor was directing; a technician stood at the boards running all the clips and coordinating all the technical aspects. and Rebecca sat with me, narrating everything and helping me understand what was going on. It was incredible to see how everything came together. From getting guests on the line, to dealing with their response to Virginia's questions - too long? Too short? Timing was crucial - as was communication between the director and the host. A lot of multi-tasking was involved but with the turn out so seamless, they made it look easy. I was amazed.
As I mentioned earlier, I got the chance to look over what everyone was doing. I got to read scripts, look at the posts online, get an overview of the audio editing software.
In the coming days, I was able to get a little more involved - I wrote a few rough drafts of my own stories derived from articles found online. One was about whether or not a company can live for ever, and the other was about depression being identified with beneficial qualities by scientists. I received good feedback and constructive criticism which boosted my confidence and got me excited for making contributions to the station. I wanted to have physical proof to show everyone back at home how cool I was. I wanted to be able to say, "Hey, see that? I did that." (No autographs please.)
On my second day, I got the chance to actually be a part of a pre-recorded clip to be played on the air that day. The segment was on the gamification of politics (tune in at about 3:20) how political candidates are turning to computer games to win the vote of gamers and further stimulate their campaign. I got to go to into the studio with Taylor and play a Howard Dean-based game from 2004. We both simply played a level in the game, narrating what we were doing, to give the listeners of the program an idea of how a political game plays out. After editing, I had about a 10-second blurb. My monotone reading voice worked perfectly into the NPR wavelengths, and thus, I had officially made my radio debut.
My third day and fourth days consisted mainly of learning to post segments to the NHPR website. Yes, I was responsible for most of the posts on January 25th and 27th, so if you see any uh-oh's, you can let me know.
The rest of the week consisted of many more opportunities to learn how things are done and get a chance to work on . So far, I'm loving it. The atmosphere is great, everyone is incredibly interesting and laid-back.
See ya next week!