NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates Q-and-A

Karen Grigsby Bates, who interviewed me last year for NPR's "Day to Day," gets the Q-and-A treatment from Kate Coe at Mediabistro.com. Bates is an L.A. correspondent for the show (one of the original staffers) and contributed commentaries to "All Things Considered" first. Before National Public Radio she was a reporter for People and a contributing columnist to the LAT Op-Ed page. Excerpt:

creditHow did you get into radio?
I sent NPR a commentary for consideration, they liked it, asked me into the studio to record it, and I ended up doing that for about 10 years. I didn't know that route was highly unusual.

What is your average media day like?
I get to the office somewhere between 5:30 and 6:00 am (yeah, I know!) and we're involved with preproduction on the day's show--maybe I'm being edited, then tracking (voicing) a piece, which would be put together for broadcast that day. If I'm not doing that, I'm looking for stories that might work for me or for someone else on the show.

Contrast and compare radio and print.
Print is more free, in some ways. It's mostly just you and your editor working on your story. How you tell it and how you relay what's happened, what you're writing about, is of paramount importance. In radio, sound is the most important component--people are often doing other things when they're listening to you (as opposed to sitting still to read a paper or magazine) so you have to create an intimate enough bond with them that they WANT to listen to what you're telling them. It isn't always the most scintillating story (I recently did one about how raccoons and Angelenos are coming into closer and closer contact--and not always happily) but the sound you use can make it or break it. (In the case of the raccoons, I had a gurgling fountain, part of a television newscast about coon attacks and some actual raccoon chatter. Those livened up the piece considerably.)

Bates has also written mysteries and the book Basic Black: Home Training for Modern Times. Here's an old interview with her at The Mystery Reader.

Photo: Mediabistro


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