Do the Heagle.
Our technical director Chris Heagle does a lot of dancing in the minutes before the interview when the host and guest take their seats. Mic positioning, sound checks, water ready… just a few of the things our resident expert makes perfect in a quiet, frenzied pace before Krista Tippett sat down with poet Marie Howe at the College of Saint Benedict.
~Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Listen Generously in Your Life — StoryCorps Style
Krista Tippett, host
One of the great figures in public radio, in my mind, is David Isay; and one of the best things on the radio is his project StoryCorps, whose mission is “to honor and celebrate one another’s lives through listening.” This year, StoryCorps has declared November 28, the day after Thanksgiving, as the first National Day of Listening — encouraging all of us to sit down with the people we know, ask them about their lives, and record those conversations.
You’ll find detailed instructions on their Web site for how to do these interviews and why they are important. As David Isay puts it, “By listening closely to one another, we can help illuminate the true character of this nation, reminding us all just how precious each day can be and how truly great it is to be alive.” This project is very much in the spirit of what we do here at Speaking of Faith — so if you give it a try, let us know what happens.
The Shot of Whiskey I Never Drank
Trent Gilliss, Online Editor
Studs Terkel, the legendary radio personality and interviewer, died today. Nearly four years ago, I took my first production trip for SOF — and what a way to start things out — with an interview in his Chicago home. At the time (he was 92 then), he had taken a fall and thus was primarily confined to his bed, relocated to the first floor in the center of his living room.
We were prepared for an elderly man who may not have a lot of energy to make it through an hour. What we got was the same old dynamo that I’d seen and heard so many times. He was alive, and his vivacity energized all of us. I regret having to relinquish this original character.
During that hour, I remember three things vividly: his definition of being an agnostic, which he defined as “a cowardly atheist”; the way he spoke about his wife as a living presence in his life, even though she had passed away some time before; this towering figure shook hands with me and asked me to repeat my name several times so that he could register it and acknowledge my presence. For part of a crew (and a Web lackey at that) invading his home, this made me feel welcome — and special; and, I write this with a regret that pangs my heart, I didn’t take him up on his offer to have a snort of whiskey before the interview — even if it was before noon.
Oh how I wish I would’ve raised my one glass to him. I’ll raise it tonight instead.
One Interpretation of the Crucifix
Rob McGinley Myers, Associate Producer
It’s a fact of radio production that most of the material you gather never gets used. And even though I’ve only been making my own radio for 2 years, I am already haunted by some of the interview bits that I’ve had to edit out of my work. So, as we begin to broadcast our show about the Catholic Church this weekend, I’ve decided to rescue from obscurity this unheard portion the very first radio interview I ever conducted.
I interviewed Mark Schultz (standing on the far left of the photo below) back in 2006 for a story about Catholics who love the church even though they sometimes disagree with its leaders. He is the associate director of the Land Stewardship Project, an organization that advocates for family farmers. I talked to him and several other Catholics, but in the end my editor persuaded me to focus the story on my mother. And so the entire interview with Mark Schultz wound up on the cutting room floor.
I’ve never forgotten the night I went over to his house, nervous about conducting my first interview, unsure of how to work the recording equipment or even how to hold the microphone properly. But the power of what he said cut through all that. He talked a lot about the specifically Catholic values his parents instilled in him when he was growing up on the South Side of Chicago. But I was particularly struck by what he said about the Catholic crucifix — the image of Jesus nailed to the cross. I’d always had ambivalent feelings about the crucifix myself. I never understood why Catholics wanted an image of violent suffering to be the focal point of the church. But in this audio excerpt, Mark Schultz describes the very personal meaning he takes from that ancient Catholic symbol every time he sees it.