Behind the Curtain at TMM

Deborah Amos, Signing On

Michel's reports from the Democratic Convention and now from the floor of the Republican gathering in St. Paul, Minn., have been essential listening each day. She has proved that Tell Me More's unofficial motto —- nothing is assumed — has been in operation, even when a story has had widespread national coverage. Michel's recent interview with Republican strategist Sara Taylor added some layers to the unconventional choice of Alaska governor Sarah Palin to the GOP ticket.

While I've hosted other programs at NPR, this is my first stretch with Tell Me More. And this is the part where I say, this is fun and interesting ... and calls for some new skills.

For starters, the fun part: the show opener is a talk with Michel, where we drive together for the first few minutes of the program. Then she tracks down an interesting guest at the convention.

And here's the interesting part: like the Republican National convention, we've had to throw away our scripts this morning, the best plans of Friday, to account to the hurricane bearing down on the Louisiana coast. The show producers settled on a conversation with Gralen Banks, who had already evacuated to Baton Rouge. Gralen had been living in a FEMA trailer, a victim of Katrina, and now, it was all happening again. The show producers tracked him down this morning, and his interview was a testament to the spirit of New Orleans. After the last devastating storm, Gralen's family had built a house in Baton Rouge, a storm crash pad. His planning decision reflects the "re-do" that the city, local and federal officials — and the people in the region — are having in the face of Gustav. This time they all want to get it right.

Then, there are the new skills I was talking about: much of this program is "live" radio. The microphone opens and you talk to people ... really talk to people. Sometimes the segments are nine minutes long, sometimes fifteen minutes long. In the landscape of broadcast news these days, this is an unheard of luxury.

Who knows what can happen?!

— Deborah Amos

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