A Career In Radio And Listening For The Edits
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
We haven't announced it in a classified ad, but we would like you to know that today is the National Day of Listening. We hope that you can set aside some time to sit down with a loved one or friend on this day after Thanksgiving. Sit down and talk and more important, listen. You've heard conversations like this all week from Rene Fontaine and from me and others here at NPR.
We've sat down with loved ones and friends and other people and today, we're going to hear from two of our best listeners, Susan Stamberg and Noah Adams. If you were listening to NPR 20 years ago, you know these voices from All Things Considered.
If you're listening now, you know these voices from all across America. Susan Stamberg and Noah Adams, they have been doing this work for a long time. They've been friends for a long time, and they've been listening so much over the years that it's changed them and brought them closer together.
Ms. SUSAN STAMBERG (NPR host): I came to radio as a good listener in real life. But radio has changed the way I listen.
MR. NOAH ADAMS (NPR host): How? Why?
Ms. STAMBERG: Because all these years of doing it and having to edit it, collapse it, so that my guests and I will always - never go, uh, uh, stutter, have pauses, nothing, or sound dumb. Don't' want to sound dumb.
Mr. ADAMS: It's become a performance - sort of a performance art, in a way.
Ms. STAMBERG: Well, I think that's true but beyond that, I find in conversation - this is really awful. I listen for the edits.
Mr. ADAMS: Listen for the edits.
Ms. STAMBERG: Yes. I do not have the tolerance that I once had to listen to people talk unendingly. I listen now in real life for the edits.
Mr. ADAMS: Of course, what we do in radio, we're looking and listening for something that really sounds good.
Ms. STAMBERG: Yeah.
Mr. ADAMS: Is a great, little bit of performance story. Which illustrates what we're talking about. When I talk to people outside - cab driver, whatever, you know - I want that to happen and then I say, whoa, I wish I had a tape recorder.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. STAMBERG: Yeah, it's radio that made us do it.
Mr. ADAMS: You think so?
Ms. STAMBERG: I do.
Mr. ADAMS: You think that's our excuse?
Ms. STAMBERG: I do. That's mine, anyway. Well, here's what your voice takes me to. We took All Things Considered to Miami. You stayed in Washington. The first broadcast we're getting ready for, we're in a big auditorium and it's full of people. It's going to be an Oprah Winfrey sort of discussion, town-hall meeting that I'm leading, and I had never really done that before, and I was very scared - really nervous and thinking it was going to be live.
And I mean, it was all new and we were in a strange place and I couldn't see well enough to control. I couldn't see the digital clock. I couldn't see - my old props and comforts were gone. But there was this huge speaker on the floor of that auditorium. And we were getting ready for the broadcast, and they clicked the switch, and there you were in Washington.
And you did for me what these radio programs I know do for our listeners. You grounded me. I heard your voice and of course, it's always the voice of God, I mean, it's so deep and it's so rich. But there you were. You weren't saying anything particularly profound. You know, probably reading a script or getting ready to record something. But there you were and I thought, this will be fine. That's the truth.
Mr. ADAMS: Well, I have thought about this before, and it's the day of 9/11, when Robert Siegel and I went on the air early and stayed on 'til 2 in the morning, 3 in the morning. And then the next day, pretty much the same thing, and the next day. And it was an honor to do that because you could feel the need of the audience and you could - remember, people were driving and carpooling and getting on buses trying to get back home.
Ms. STAMBERG: Desperate, desperate.
Mr. ADAMS: And people were - you could feel people listening, and I felt so privileged to be there with Robert Siegel, but I missed your presence because you have the most sincere approach that I know about. Of all the people I know who are on the radio, you're the most sincere.
Ms. STAMBERG: Oh, my goodness.
Mr. ADAMS: Those days, I missed you.
Ms. STAMBERG: Thank you very much. Well, I was awfully glad you were there and I could hear you.
INSKEEP: Susan Stamberg and Noah Adams, who ate Thanksgiving dinner together yesterday with their families. So, on this StoryCorps National Day of Listening, here's your chance to find someone to listen to. If you're looking for help or want to share what you've learned, just go to npr.org.