Tuesday, May 31, 2016


The future of public media depends on nurturing promising folks in the early stages of their careers. They are our future.  But, sometimes it is hard for newbies to know where to start.  One choice with career potential is producing a public radio Talk/Interview program. They pay is usually meager and the job takes lots of time. But it gives someone a wide perspective on how news and information is acquired, presented and reformatted for multiple platforms.

Today we take a look at four emerging producers of station-based Talk/Interview programs who are earning praise from peers and listeners.

Producer, Word of Mouth
New Hampshire Public Radio

Taylor Quimby (Photo credit: Current)
Taylor Quimby started his career in radio in 2010 as a part-time board operator for New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR).  He now producers NHPR’s daily Talk/Interview program Word of Mouth

Quimby is known as an all-position player.  He thrives on new ideas, writes and produces program segments and occasionally is a substitute host. Recently Quimby came to national attention when his blog post Lessons from Failed Interviews was reprinted in Current. Here are excerpts from Quimby’s post:

[In 2013] I was the program’s primary director — it was up to me to make quick calls about when to drop a guest, keep an ear out for the pace of the program, and figure out what to do when things weren’t going the way we had planned.

Here are a few of my favorite “failed” interviews from when Word of Mouth was broadcast live, and the lessons they imparted:
Taylor Quimby

• The Legend of The Easter Weasel

In 2011, a personal collection of lost fairy tales and fables was discovered in a locked archive in Germany. The following year, the collection was published — so we booked the cultural curator responsible, Erika Eichenseer, for a 12-minute interview on Word of Mouth.

While we had emailed back and forth with Erika, nobody on staff had actually spoken to her. Once we got her on the air, we discovered that her strong accent, combined with the international line from Germany, made for an awkward (but somehow still charming) conversation.

Lessons learned: If it doesn’t need to be live, tape it! Also, never skip the pre-interview if your guest speaks English as a second language.

• Al Green and the Not-So-Magical Tour Bus

In 2012, soul superstar Al Green performed at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, N.H. In the days leading up to his event, Word of Mouth was offered a chance to interview him, with a couple of caveats: He would do it only by cellphone, and he would have to be interviewed from his noisy tour bus.

But how could we say no? It’s AL GREEN!

It was a very bizarre interview. One of his songs was playing in the background and Green started speaking to other people on the bus [during the interview]. We saved a couple minutes of this interview for broadcast, but most of it was left on the cutting room floor.

Lesson Learned: No interviews from the tour bus!

• The Most Awesome Not-Awesome Interview OF ALL TIME

In 2011, California bookseller John Tottenham started a campaign to rid the world of the word “awesome”. A former producer for Word of Mouth, Avishay Artsy, rightly suggested we interview him — it was a funny little story — although he added a word of warning that John’s voice was somewhat “monotone.”

He set up the interview and wrote the script, but I (in a very optimistic rookie moment) scheduled the interview for a full eleven minutes. This, by the way, is the length of time you might spend with a nationally renowned novelist or Pulitzer Prize—winning journalist — not for a guy who doesn’t like the word “awesome.”

What starts off as an incredibly funny conversation (I was in tears in the control room from the very beginning) slowly becomes one of the longest and most cringe-worthy interviews witnessed in my tenure as a producer at Word of Mouth.

Host Virginia Prescott does an incredible job trying to fill the time allotted (sorry, Virginia!) but ultimately has to dump out a full minute early. [I] stopped smiling and started thinking: “How much more of this is left?”

Lessons Learned: Less is usually better — so when determining the length of a segment, be conservative. And have something ready in case you need to dump out…

Producer, Up To Date
KCUR, Kansas City

Danie Alexander
Danie Alexander started at KCUR in 2007 as an intern for Up to Date after graduating from the University of Missouri – Kansas City. She didn’t get offered a job right away and she loved the work she was doing on the program.  So she continued with KCUR as a volunteer. She proved her worth.

In December 2011, Danie was hired at KCUR as a temporary on-air announcer and became the Saturday afternoon “voice” of the station. In August 2012 she became associate producer for Up to Date. Danie moved up to producer in September of 2014.

Folks at KCUR know sometimes the best new talent is sitting beside you today.

Iowa Public Radio Talk Show Producer
& Stand Up Comedian

Clare Roth on stage at an Iowa comedy club
Clare Roth started working at Iowa Public Radio (IPR) as a seasonal news reporter in 2012. After she graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she worked at Minnesota Public Radio and The Onion. Then Roth returned to IPR as a talk show producer which is her job today. But, that is only part of her story.

Roth has been doing stand-­up comedy at venues across the Midwest. Her specialties are monologues about sex, mortality, and other “light” topics. Roth also produces a podcast about children’s books in her precious spare time.

Interim Executive Producer, Stateside

Joe Linstroth
Joe Linstroth began in the biz as co-founder of a couple of sketch comedy groups in Chicago. He started as an intern at WBEZ and then became a producer at WBEZ’s daily global program Worldview. He then moved to WKAR, East Lansing, where he was the founding senior producer of the daily magazine show Current State.

When Linstroth left to move to Ann Arbor, his associates at WKAR post this as a tribute on the Current State website:

Current State bids a reluctant but fond farewell today to the founding producer of our program. Joe Linstroth returns to his Ann Arbor alma mater as he leaves WKAR for a position at the University of Michigan's public radio station.

Joe has been at the heart and soul of Current State since its launch on January 14, 2013. From the beginning, Joe's approach to leading Current State was to dream big and dream local.

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