Faces Of NPR is a weekly feature that showcases the people behind NPR, from the voices you hear every day on the radio to the ones who work outside of the recording studio. You'll find out about what they do and what they're inspired by on the daily. This week's post features Hidden Brain's Associate Producer Parth Shah.
Name: Parth Shah
Twitter Handle: @parthfm
Job Title: Associate Producer
Where You're From: 704 (Charlotte, NC)
An Inside Look
You're an associate producer for Hidden Brain. What does that mean?
I have headphones on for most of the day. I'm either writing a script, editing audio, finding music, or giving feedback on another producer's episode.
You recently reported an episode for the Code Switch podcast. How did that come about?
That story idea came to me a few years ago. I actually pitched it during my first job interview at NPR back in May 2016. The episode is about the multimillion-dollar online matchmaking industry for South Asians. The major players—like India-based shaadi.com and the American company Dil Mil—still don't provide services to gay people.
After pitching the story during that job interview, the idea kinda faded into the back of my mind. I started thinking about it again earlier this year and decided to bring it to the Code Switch team. I'm grateful they gave me the space to share my reporting.
How did you get started at NPR? What advice do you have for someone who wants a job like yours?
The Kroc Fellowship was my foot in the door.
Before starting it in 2016, I spent a year working as a general assignment reporter at Wisconsin Public Radio. My job there was to feed the newscast with 45-second reports. But I wanted to tell longer stories with cussing and music and sound effects. So I made a podcast. Working on that side project is a lot like what I'm doing today at NPR, except now I have an audience bigger than my nuclear family.
If you want to be a podcast producer, my advice is to just start making stuff. Audio editing takes practice. And you don't need to invest in a $500 Marantz recorder right off the bat. Use the voice memos app on your iPhone to collect sound and mess with it on Audacity.
What are some of your favorite past projects?
Doing the sound design on this episode introduced me to the hauntingly beautiful sound of the Galitian bagpipe.
Outside of Hidden Brain, I'm proud of this story I reported for Code Switch back in late 2016, "For Tattoo Artists, Race Is In The Mix When Ink Meets Skin."
Hidden Brain focuses particularly on the insights we can gain from science and how to apply them to our lives—what's a finding from an episode that's influenced your work or personal life?
This episode made me want to try to train my cat using a clicker... It's a work in progress.
What's on your desk?
I've got a withering grocery store orchid that I've been mourning for about four months.
My current favorite: A Woman's Smile.
Favorite Tiny Desk?
What are you inspired by right now? (Books, websites, places, people, podcasts, TV shows, Twitter handles, etc.)
The video team here produces this great series called Foraging. It's a true gem of NPR.
Favorite places in Washington D.C.?
Theodore Roosevelt Island and the Hirshhorn Museum.
What do you love about public radio?
Listening gives you ammunition to combat stale small talk.