JJSutherland_FEATURED

J.J. Sutherland

Intro from Jay Allison: Getting together and putting on a show is one of the draws of radio, isn't it? Months ago, I asked JJ Sutherland if he'd keep a journal about creating NPR's new "Day To Day" from scratch, and then join us for the final month before launch. Here he is. I'm grateful to him, and to NPR, for letting this happen at the absolutely MOST inconvenient time. Plus, it's a sensitive time full of risk and ego and fear. Who wants to open the door while you're still undressed, who wants to reveal process when it's chaotic, who wants more hassle when you're hassled? Well, JJ says he does, within reason, and we hope his staff and host will pitch in too. We think we can learn a lot by listening to what they're going through. So welcome them, and be friendly. They're working hard. They're putting on a show.

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Day to Day – A New Radio Show: Some Assembly Required

Before the Beginning – WHY?

A little over two years ago I had a 3 hour meeting with Jay Kernis, the Senior VP of Programming at NPR, about a new radio program. It would be a newsmagazine. In the middle of the day, sometime between Morning Edition and All Things Considered. It would be different than the other NPR newsmags, but not so different that it wouldn’t be an NPR newsmag. It would have to not draw too much on the resources of NPR News, it should be able to produce the vast majority of its own material. Then he sent me away to think and write about it. Since that time the idea of the show has evolved and grown. But the first question I had for Jay was, “Why?” You have to begin with “Why?” Why does this show need to exist? What purpose does it serve? Believe me, there are many reasons not to launch a radio program, and if you can’t come up with some overwhelming reasons to do it, it is far easier to keep doing what you’re doing. The answer? Without getting into detail, because listeners and stations want one. We (and I say we, but really other people did the work) did a lot of research, asking questions like, who is listening then, would they listen to a new newsmagazine, would it help build audience for public radio stations, where are they when they are listening, how long do they listen, what else are they listening to besides public radio, why is that, what would bring them back, etc., etc. We also talked to stations, asking them if they wanted a program in the middle of the day, and what kind of program, what would help them the most.

Now WHAT? And WHO?

So we had they why, or at least I was convinced it was a good idea. Then we had to answer the what. What would it be? It will be an NPR newsmagazine, but different. It will be an NPR fix for the listener in midday. It will be fascinated not so much with what happened, although it will tell you that, but with what ideas, beliefs and behaviors lurk behind the news of the day. It will be personal. The host and a cast of characters will become your companions through the journey of your day. And we decided we would do it in partnership. In partnership with Slate magazine, which in my humble opinion, is produced by a group of the smartest and best journalists and writers working today. Sitting in an editorial meeting with Michael Kinsley and Jacob Weisberg is, shall we say, an invigorating experience. It is fantastic fun to help bring the voice of Slate to the radio. Okay, so it has a reason, it has something of a what, and it has a partnership. The next thing in launching any program is the most important decision you can make. Who is the host? Any program is the host in a very real way. It doesn’t matter how great a staff you have, or how smart you are, if you don’t have a great host, you are doomed. We work in a performance medium. And in any performance, the core of it is casting. Who is the lead? Who is the master of ceremonies who will tie everything together? Whose personality will be the show to any listener? Not mine, they don’t even know I exist, except perhaps in some odd theoretical way. The host is the show. And we got lucky. We got Alex Chadwick. I won’t go into how extraordinary Alex is here, I’ll just say the truth. He is the best. Trust me on this one. Of course, we haven’t done the show on a daily basis yet and I am sure I will soon damn him for all eternity, but, at the moment, I’m in love.

HOW? Good Lord, HOW?

And now we get to the hard part. How. Over the next few weeks, I’ll try and share some of how we’re going about it. I’ll just start here with some of my observations over the past couple of months. Jay Allison asked me to keep a diary of the recent past, and looking back over it a few themes emerge. First, your host. You have to keep your host focused and create an environment that allows him (in this case) to perform at his best. Host handling is a tricky art. It isn’t always acceding to their demands, but it is listening to them. It is encouraging his best and protecting him from his worst. One of the jobs of a producer is to convince the host that he is safe. He’s the one out there on the high wire, your job is to convince him you have a net in your back pocket. He may not see it, but he has to trust that you can whip it out at the last moment. Second, systems. The systems are your net. How do you get from point A to point B? Who schedules interviews, how are they scheduled, what calendar does everyone look at, who writes the copy, who edits the copy, where does the copy end up, what does it look like when you print it out, who takes it to the studio, these are just a few of the questions you have to answer. Not only answer, but ingrained in everyone who works on the program. I cannot tell you how much time I’ve devoted to script handling. Because if Alex is on the air and looking for a piece of paper he needs, it better be obvious where that piece of paper is, and where it comes in the show. We’re piloting tomorrow, and my main focus is going to be paper. Third, regulars. One thing we’re trying to do with this show is to have regularly scheduled segments appear on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is serving the listener. The ideal here is Bob Edwards discussions with Red Barber. Every Friday people would tune in to here that conversation. It was always at the same time on the same day. Another example would be the Puzzler segment on Weekend Edition Sunday. It is a segment that has become part of people’s routine. We want to make those kind of things happen every day. Besides the listener aspect of it, it also makes producing the show a lot easier. If you know that you’re going to have your movie person every Friday, or the advice columnist on Thursdays, you can plan and produce ahead. This will save you in the first few months of the show, when we will be struggling every day to put something out. The downside is that you lock yourself into certain things, and it will cramp you to an extent. Believe me, you’ll be grateful after six weeks on the air that you don’t have to worry about the top of the B segment on Tuesday, that’s your personal finance bit. Fourth, and this should probably be second only to the host, staffing. I have been extraordinarily lucky in the people I have hired so far, everyone is individually remarkable. But it has taken, by far, the greatest amount of my time. I am incredibly psyched about the team that I have (and yeah, I’m glowing a bit here) but the amount of time and effort that go into hiring has turned out to be far greater than I expected it to be.

NEXT? The Final Month…

Here I want to throw it open to you. We’re 4 weeks away from launch. We’re working as hard as we possibly can. We go into daily show production next week. One thing we are looking for is independents to produce for us, and we have specifically set aside time and money to put you all on the air. My main motivation has always been a combination of fear and the sheer orgasmic bliss that comes from putting out a great radio show. I’m not sure if this is a manifesto, or an explainer, but over the next few weeks I’ll be updating you all every few days on where we’re at, and what I’m afraid of now.

JJ Sutherland

About
JJ Sutherland

J.J. Sutherland is the Executive Producer of NPR's Day to Day, a new daily newsmagazine hosted by Alex Chadwick that launches on July 28 on a public radio station near you. J.J. has done a number of different things at NPR, including launching The Tavis Smiley Show, and working on coverage of the recent war and events surrounding 9/11. J.J. came to NPR in 2000 to launch The Way In a daily show on Sirius Satellite Radio. Before that he was the producer of On The Media in New York, and before that was part of the team that launched The Connection at WBUR in Boston in 1994. J.J. attended a couple of colleges and universities long enough to establish a mutual antipathy with academia, but not long enough to graduate. He smokes heavily, drinks way too much coffee, and is convinced that Lucas has a secret master plan to make the next Star Wars movie the best ever.

Comments

  • Jay Allison

    7.02.03

    Intro from Jay Allison

    Getting together and putting on a show is one of the draws of radio, isn’t it?

    Months ago, I asked JJ Sutherland if he’d keep a journal about creating NPR’s new "Day To Day" from scratch, and then join us for the final month before launch.

    Here he is.

    I’m grateful to him, and to NPR, for letting this happen at the absolutely MOST inconvenient time. Plus, it’s a sensitive time full of risk and ego and fear. Who wants to open the door while you’re still undressed, who wants to reveal process when it’s chaotic, who wants more hassle when you’re hassled?

    Well, JJ says he does, within reason, and we hope his staff and host will pitch in too. We think we can learn a lot by listening to what they’re going through. So welcome them, and be friendly. They’re working hard. They’re putting on a show.

  • JJ Sutherland

    7.02.03

    Manifesto

    Day to Day – A New Radio Show

    Some Assembly Required

    Before the Beginning – WHY?

    A little over two years ago I had a 3 hour meeting with Jay Kernis, the Senior VP of Programming at NPR, about a new radio program. It would be a newsmagazine. In the middle of the day, sometime between Morning Edition and All Things Considered. It would be different than the other NPR newsmags, but not so different that it wouldn’t be an NPR newsmag. It would have to not draw too much on the resources of NPR News, it should be able to produce the vast majority of its own material.

    Then he sent me away to think and write about it.

    Since that time the idea of the show has evolved and grown. But the first question I had for Jay was, "Why?"

    You have to begin with "Why?" Why does this show need to exist? What purpose does it serve? Believe me, there are many reasons not to launch a radio program, and if you can’t come up with some overwhelming reasons to do it, it is far easier to keep doing what you’re doing.

    The answer? Without getting into detail, because listeners and stations want one. We (and I say we, but really other people did the work) did a lot of research, asking questions like, who is listening then, would they listen to a new newsmagazine, would it help build audience for public radio stations, where are they when they are listening, how long do they listen, what else are they listening to besides public radio, why is that, what would bring them back, etc., etc. We also talked to stations, asking them if they wanted a program in the middle of the day, and what kind of program, what would help them the most.

  • JJ Sutherland

    7.02.03

    Now WHAT? And WHO?

    So we had they why, or at least I was convinced it was a good idea. Then we had to answer the what. What would it be? It will be an NPR newsmagazine, but different. It will be an NPR fix for the listener in midday. It will be fascinated not so much with what happened, although it will tell you that, but with what ideas, beliefs and behaviors lurk behind the news of the day. It will be personal. The host and a cast of characters will become your companions through the journey of your day.

    And we decided we would do it in partnership. In partnership with Slate magazine, which in my humble opinion, is produced by a group of the smartest and best journalists and writers working today. Sitting in an editorial meeting with Michael Kinsley and Jacob Weisberg is, shall we say, an invigorating experience. It is fantastic fun to help bring the voice of Slate to the radio.

    Okay, so it has a reason, it has something of a what, and it has a partnership. The next thing in launching any program is the most important decision you can make. Who is the host? Any program is the host in a very real way. It doesn’t matter how great a staff you have, or how smart you are, if you don’t have a great host, you are doomed. We work in a performance medium. And in any performance, the core of it is casting. Who is the lead? Who is the master of ceremonies who will tie everything together? Whose personality will be the show to any listener? Not mine, they don’t even know I exist, except perhaps in some odd theoretical way. The host is the show.

    And we got lucky. We got Alex Chadwick. I won’t go into how extraordinary Alex is here, I’ll just say the truth. He is the best. Trust me on this one. Of course, we haven’t done the show on a daily basis yet and I am sure I will soon damn him for all eternity, but, at the moment, I’m in love.

  • JJ Sutherland

    7.02.03

    HOW? Good Lord, HOW?

    And now we get to the hard part. How. Over the next few weeks, I’ll try and share some of how we’re going about it. I’ll just start here with some of my observations over the past couple of months. Jay Allison asked me to keep a diary of the recent past, and looking back over it a few themes emerge.

    First, your host. You have to keep your host focused and create an environment that allows him (in this case) to perform at his best. Host handling is a tricky art. It isn’t always acceding to their demands, but it is listening to them. It is encouraging his best and protecting him from his worst. One of the jobs of a producer is to convince the host that he is safe. He’s the one out there on the high wire, your job is to convince him you have a net in your back pocket. He may not see it, but he has to trust that you can whip it out at the last moment.

    Second, systems. The systems are your net. How do you get from point A to point B? Who schedules interviews, how are they scheduled, what calendar does everyone look at, who writes the copy, who edits the copy, where does the copy end up, what does it look like when you print it out, who takes it to the studio, these are just a few of the questions you have to answer. Not only answer, but ingrained in everyone who works on the program. I cannot tell you how much time I’ve devoted to script handling. Because if Alex is on the air and looking for a piece of paper he needs, it better be obvious where that piece of paper is, and where it comes in the show. We’re piloting tomorrow, and my main focus is going to be paper.

    Third, regulars. One thing we’re trying to do with this show is to have regularly scheduled segments appear on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is serving the listener. The ideal here is Bob Edwards discussions with Red Barber. Every Friday people would tune in to here that conversation. It was always at the same time on the same day.

    Another example would be the Puzzler segment on Weekend Edition Sunday. It is a segment that has become part of people’s routine. We want to make those kind of things happen every day. Besides the listener aspect of it, it also makes producing the show a lot easier. If you know that you’re going to have your movie person every Friday, or the advice columnist on Thursdays, you can plan and produce ahead. This will save you in the first few months of the show, when we will be struggling every day to put something out. The downside is that you lock yourself into certain things, and it will cramp you to an extent. Believe me, you’ll be grateful after six weeks on the air that you don’t have to worry about the top of the B segment on Tuesday, that’s your personal finance bit.

    Fourth, and this should probably be second only to the host, staffing. I have been extraordinarily lucky in the people I have hired so far, everyone is individually remarkable. But it has taken, by far, the greatest amount of my time. I am incredibly psyched about the team that I have (and yeah, I’m glowing a bit here) but the amount of time and effort that go into hiring has turned out to be far greater than I expected it to be.

  • JJ Sutherland

    7.02.03

    NEXT? The Final Month…

    Here I want to throw it open to you. We’re 4 weeks away from launch. We’re working as hard as we possibly can. We go into daily show production next week. One thing we are looking for is independents to produce for us, and we have specifically set aside time and money to put you all on the air.

    My main motivation has always been a combination of fear and the sheer orgasmic bliss that comes from putting out a great radio show. I’m not sure if this is a manifesto, or an explainer, but over the next few weeks I’ll be updating you all every few days on where we’re at, and what I’m afraid of now.

  • Jeff Howitt

    7.03.03

    The Slate collaboration

    JJ – I would be very interested to learn how you (or Jay, or whoever) came up with the idea of collaborating with Slate, and then how that decision unfolded. Specifically, what led you to the conclusion that you needed (or at least wanted) a partner? How did Slate respond when you approached them? What adjustments did both NPR and Slate need to make to each other?

  • Andy Knight

    7.03.03

    >One thing we are looking for is independents to produce for us, and we have specifically set aside time and money to put you all on the air.

    What kind of things are you looking for, JJ? Do you have a certain style in mind? Will you be looking for more of the essays and news-connected stories found all over shows like Morning Edition and ATC, or are you going to throw the door wide for stories that don’t strictly fit the news format. Will your show bring back the active slushpile to the halls of NPR or is this open casting call only temporary?

  • Lara Petusky Coger

    7.03.03

    openings???

    JJ–are you still looking for producers and APs???

  • Ruxandra Guidi

    7.03.03

    JJ,

    Given all the research you did on who is listening to the radio, whether they would listen to a new newsmagazine, etc, what will be the most engaging aspect of Day To Day – what makes it more personal?

  • jake

    7.04.03

    JJ, thanks for giving us a peek into your world as you get this new show ready for prime time.

    Coupla questions:

    It’s crowded out there in pubrad talk land. Half a dozen national talk shows, the newsmagazines, a bunch of strong local shows in top markets. All chewing over the same news, authors, movies, politics. How is D2D going to break through all the chatter?

    What does the research, or your instincts, tell you about who your listeners will be in the middle of the public radio day, and how do you cater to them? (If Bushenomics keeps unemployment going up you could get the biggest cume of the day!).

    You addressed the Why, What, Who, and How, but now tell us about the Where. What’s the West Coast/LA influence on the show?

    Any chance you’ll post the pilot, or an excerpt, here on Transom?

    BTW, we met once briefly in The Connection studios when you came for a visit and I had just started as a producer with Lydon, McGrath & co (before the Valentine’s Day massacre…).

  • JJ Sutherland

    7.04.03

    Slate

    hmmm…

    I’ll start at the beginning. I came up with the idea of partnering with Slate very early on in the process. Why? Because I honestly think we’ll do a better radio show with them than without them. Also, we are designed to be somewhat self-sufficient without drawing on the full resources of the NPR desks (they already have to fill 4 hours a day). So, Slate gives us access to some of the best and smartest journalists working today, and they are incredibly eager to do radio.

    How did they respond? With incredible enthusiasm. They had already explored doing some sort of radio show, but they weren’t quite sure how to pull it off. In this endeavor they have hired long time NPR correspondent Andy Bowers to help them produce for radio. My main goal in working with them was to not have them be a source for 2-ways, but be a source of produced elements. Andy is helping them to deliver that.

    How did we adjust to each other? Honestly, not that much. I wouldn’t want to have a program that sucks the Slate out of Slate, and I don’t think they would want to have a show that isn’t naturally public radio. I have been in many meetings now with the principals at Slate and worked with many of their contributors, and I have to say the only thing that I have encouraged is that they remain true to their voice.

    They are not the only part of D2D, but they are a significant one, and I wouldn’t want to partner with them, without them bringing the voices that are so apparent on Slate already.

  • JJ Sutherland

    7.04.03

    openings

    For any sort of job openings I have to point you to npr.org. Every single one of our openings are posted there. At the moment we have a Associate Producer opening and a Reporter opening listed there. There are no others, and I am trying to move through the process very quickly. Anyone should feel free to send their resume in through the website for any of the jobs NPR has open.

  • JJ Sutherland

    7.04.03

    some q’s answered

    Jake…

    We were both there before the war, and it was a beautiful place to be. Glad I missed the divorce…

    The chatter? Well, there is no other NPR Newsmagazine in that time period, which is good. But the same news, etc…it’s tricky, our first job is to reassure the NPR listener that we are actually paying attention to the news, and if there is something major, we will be all over it. As for everything else? I don’t think that public radio even touches on the great diversity of things that are going on in this country and that there are plenty of things, or at least plenty of angles that the rest of public radio won’t be touching on….

    Who are the listeners? Well, if you believe the research (and if you have something better to believe in, please let me know), to a large extent it is the standard NPR listener, and that is our first target. How do we cater to them? I think we will try and cater to their listening habits: shorter than in the morning or afternoon, but still interested. Part of our mission is to give something to the midday audience that they aren’t getting at present, a newsmagazine. At present it is either talk shows or long form interview programs of various stripes. We’re looking at people who may only have 15 minutes or less to listen to the radio, how do we serve them? Well, you got a great 3 minute piece?

    West Coast…Well, we aren’t from the East Coast. Seriously, we are a show from the West Coast that isn’t about the West Coast. When I moved to DC from New York, I noticed that my fascination with subcommittee prodcedural votes increased, and now that I live in LA I’m kinda psyched that Brad Pitt and George Clooney have signed a deal to do a sequel to Ocean’s 11 (though they got robbed on the residuals). But seriously, we’ll be informed by the place that we live in, just as Boston informs the Connection or Chicago influences This American Life.

    As for posting excerpts…I hope to, but I have to see about the logistics…

    jj

  • Julia Barton

    7.04.03

    Independents day

    Hi JJ,

    Thanks for opening up the process of this show’s development in such a way–it’s really interesting and unprecedented.

    Just a couple of questions on behalf of independent producers. Will your show be part of the desk/editor system at NPR, or will people pitch to you directly? And what, to be bald, is to entice us to bring an idea to you as opposed to NPR-at-large or other shows? More creative possibilities? Three minute or shorter pieces are fun, sometimes, but often as much work if not more than longer features, for less pay. Maybe you have a different payment structure not based on the facetious formula of airtime=effort? In which case, I would LOVE to hear about that.

    Oh yeah, and is the Slate partnership a one-way street? Will D2D material make it onto the website as well?

  • Jackson

    7.04.03

    Programming vs predictability

    Jaje:

    These are noble things you are doing — both here at Transom and with the new program.

    It’ll be interesting to see how you develop the rhythms of the show. The curious thing with these rhythms, from the listener’s standpoint, is that you don’t really notice them until they’re not there. I woke up this AM thinking it was Saturday. What’s Edwards doing on the air?

    Do you have any themes in search of stories — man bites dog, kids say the darndest things? Like the segment D on the fourth Tuesday of every month will be devoted to the foodstuffs of the common man, or the stupid heist story that figures week in and week out on Wait! Wait!

    And finally, how long will it take the audience to get into the unconscious groove of the show? Do you chart the groove over the month? Over the week?

  • Sean Cole

    7.06.03

    Can’t think of a good subject line.

    Because I have so many damn questions.

    Hey JJ,

    Thanks so much for doing this. I agree with Julia, it’s not every day you get a behind the scenes glimpse at a show in the making as its being made. Plus I love that it has its own abbreviation already. "D2D" – righteous.

    Please forgive the following flurry of questions.

    One think I’m wondering about is how stations responded when you approached them about the show. We know about the recent tension between "cultural" (i.e. music) programming and talk programing at some public radio stations and how unhappy some (many?) listeners get when music is replaced with talk. At a lot of stations, midday is a time for long stretches of classical music punctuated by NPR newscasts. Is that tension playing at all in your marketing the show to stations and listeners? Just curious.

    Also, you said you’re going to be having some regularly scheduled segments. You mentioned movie reviews and personal finance as hypothetical examples. Are those the kinds of things your thinking of doing, or stuff that isn’t already done on the other shows? I imagine there’s a delicate balance you’re needing to walk here between being recognizable/playing to NPR’s strengths and yet not being repetitive.

    Are Slate writers going to start doing actual radio stories? Getting tape, writing scripts, voicing, etc? (Not sure what the etc. would be… shvitzing?)

    You said "I don’t think that public radio even touches on the great diversity of things that are going on in this country and that there are plenty of things, or at least plenty of angles that the rest of public radio won’t be touching on…" Could you give an example?

    Glad to see you’re still smoking. As am I. Quitters never win.

  • Amy O’Leary

    7.06.03

    A really obvious question -

    J.J. !

    So what is it that you’re actually doing in a given day? What did you do today?

    Thank you,
    Amy

  • JJ Sutherland

    7.06.03

    Independents

    Julia…

    I’ll post our official "How to Pitch to D2D" later this week (we’re still writing it). But I’ll answer some of your questions right now.

    We aren’t part of the desk/editor system at NPR, and we will accept direct pitches. However, we are coordinating closely with the desks so we don’t have conflicts. How all this will work out remains to be seen, but we’re all trying to work together on it.

    Why us? Well, perhaps more fun, but mainly it is another outlet that will be buying material, which I can only imagine is a good thing for independents. Also, we’re looking for a strong sense of voice and personality, which I think will warm the hearts of producers and reporters everywhere. We are looking for shorter pieces, but not exclusively under 3 minutes, that kind of rule is kind of silly. We are looking for stories that have a sense of pace. I’m sure everyone has heard 3 minute pieces that feel like they are 6 minutes long, and vice versa. I’d like the former not to be on this show.

    As for pay, we have the same pay structure as the rest of NPR for the simple reason that we want consistency throughout the company.

    As for the 2-way street, I think you’ll see some of that, but we’ll have to see how and when it makes sense, both for us and for Slate.

    jj

  • Jackson

    7.07.03

    J.J., Before independent producers …

    drag their first-borns to the sacrificial altar, I guess I would ask that you convince us why independents should consider hawking their wares to you when other noon time programming in the system has already started soliciting content from people who have proven themselves time after time incapable of not getting a good price for their grandmothers. (There was some talk on the AIR List from a station in Boston about — I dunno — uptoherefore sex-free partners in a faraway place with wild imaginations who…)

    No, I am sure that you are more than big enough to fend off such knee-jerk supplications and really address the more substantive issues at hand. Surely if you are talking about mindful works — does D2D have a mission statement, btw? — you can’t possibly be thinking of anything less than, say, 10 minutes (JOKING! JOKING!).

    But given that Slate is a product of Microsoft — luv ya, guys! first bookmark I blog every day! — how would you consider stories about software and behavior? An important question, given how much software and computers influence our day-to-day lives.

    I guess maybe what I’m asking is what are you going to be doing at D2D? Don’t let me stop you from giving voice to Michael Lewis’s travel pieces, but will Slate be handling, say, the culture and travel beat while NPR handles, oh, antitrust stuff?

  • frodo

    7.07.03

    d2d

    How did you come up with the name for the show? What kind of reaction has it gotten?

  • Minerva

    7.07.03

    FEAR!

    So you’re starting a new, daily, hour-long national program. What is your biggest fear of how it will sound? Stodgy? Glib? Too many quickie 2-ways? Too much fluff?

    Trying to give a show personality and making listeners feel like its contributors are companions is obviously a hard thing to do (and the reason why every still talks about Red Barber…it hasn’t happened that often since he died).

    So, JJ (or any other staff member willing to fess up), what wakes you up at 3:00 am?

  • JJ Sutherlnad

    7.08.03

    What I did Today

    Amy…

    What did I do today…

    Well, we’re piloting this week Thursday and Friday, and all of next week…

    So, today I tried to get a grasp on what stories we have coming in, from Alex 2-Ways, commentators, in house reporter pieces and freelance pieces. that was part of my day…most of it was taken up by the kind of bureaucratic nonsense that makes the world go round. Where did so and so’s paycheck end up? How is the hiring process going? I talked with our new Associate Editor Luke Burbank about his ideas for the show. I thought about how to make sure that all the people within NPR are working from the same page on the show. I discussed pitched ideas for pieces with Martha Little, who edits all our pieces. I made sure everyone has a desk (a new PA started today) and checked in that their IT accounts were up to date. Where is our contact database? Who is managing it?

    It’s odd being an Executive Producer because very few things go all the way through the process with me alone. Most of the time I think of an idea, or am pitched one, and I pass it along to someone else, telling them that it sounds good to me. Or I come in later in the process and kill something and piss somebody off. But that kind of thing is what I get paid for.

    Tomorrow, I hope on nailing down a few more regular commentators, and filling out the weekly grid of what pieces we do when. Should I have the internet/gadget person on Tuesday and the Alex essay on Thursday? Is there any real difference?

    I also have to move on more hiring stuff, and begin to make sure 2-way’s are nailed down on Wednesday for Thursday’s pilot. And we’re having a launch party and I have to make sure we have the names of whom we want to invite for that. And I have to pick up my dry cleaning, fix this faucet in my house, and try to explain to my wife why I haven’t dealt with our taxes from last year.

    jj

  • JJ Sutherland

    7.08.03

    Re: d2d name, you hairy toed *******

    The name…arggh. Well, to name anything these days you have to come up with something the lawyers pass on. Like, Viagra or Acura, a made up word.

    We solicited name suggestions from staff at NPR and came up with something on the order of 700 names. After culling the ones we didn’t like we had a 5 or 6. After running a trademark/copyright check on those, none of them passed muster. I honestly don’t know who came up with "Day to Day" but that one finally did check out with the lawyers and it became the name. Is it my absolute favorite? No, but lawyers warned me that both "Star Trek" and "Battlestar Galactica" were protected by small minded companies that might just sue us. Bastards.

  • JJ Sutherland

    7.08.03

    Re: FEAR!

    What wakes me up at 3?

    Doing it every bloody day. I have every faith that we can make a show that sounds good and different and exciting and wonderful and joyous once a week, or even a few times a week. It’s the everyday thing that freaks me out.

    Do we have enough ideas? I think so. Do we have enough staff to pull it off everyday? Again, I think so. But I don’t know. We haven’t done it yet every day, five days a week, week after week, no time off.

    My biggest fear (besides the daily fears of inadequacy that I hope plague everyone else) is the fear that we can’t pull it off day in and day out. I’ve tried to plan for it, anticipate the burden, but until we are actually on the air I won’t know if it works. I think it will, and to tell you the truth, I belive it will, but I just don’t know. Talk to me in a couple of weeks.

    jj

  • achadwick

    7.08.03

    go ahead and pay ‘em more and call it……a market test!

    Dear JJ:

    These people are right to want to get paid more for short pieces. We can’t ask them to do creative work and then insist on NPR’s minute rate in order to be consistent. The only reason the company wants to use that rate is to avoid all the crap it takes when it tries to pay people on a quality of work basis. But we’re right to want to use the best material we can find, and of course that involves editorial choice…something we should be willing to both defend and pay for. We want good work; we have to be ready to pay peopel to produce it – and pay them enough to live on. That’s how I got Scott Carrier on the air these many years ago with his legednary first piece about hitch-hiking across the country. (I wanted to include a credit at the end of the show: "When in Washington, guests of Weekend All Things Considered reside at the 5th Street Men’s Shelter", which was true for a while.)

    Give them the dough and we’ll explain it later. Or you will…I’ll be at the beach.

    Yr. true pal,

    A. Chadwick

  • Sean Cole

    7.08.03

    Re: What I did Today

    I vote for the Alex essay to go on Thursday.

  • Nannette Drake Oldenbourg

    7.08.03

    I vote for Thursday too. Mon and Tues more people are too frantic to appreciate the poetry.

    Some would be more likely to listen on Friday, but that’s too late in the week, (and maybe too close to Scott Simon’s?)
    you’d have to have another on Monday or Tuesday, as in "welcome to the week, hang on" followed by "okay, we’ve gotten this far through another week, and this is how we human beings are doing"

    Which days are people most and least likely to listen?

    Note to yourself at 3 a.m. : Nobody’s doing IT every day. You’re blocking it so most people do Big Things, aka IT, once a week, right?
    how much can be pre-planned versus made that day in response to news? and can that ratio change according to what is possible and what kind of news day it is?

  • JJ Sutherland

    7.08.03

    Re: Can’t Think of a Good Subject Line

    Sean…

    In my experience some listeners get mad whenever you change programming, whether it is music to news or from one news show to another. We’re trying to present another option to stations in the midday time slot. Program Directors themselves certainly know their audiences and schedules better than I do, we’re just trying to produce a program that is better than what they currently have available to them.

    One of the things that we’ve talked and thought about a lot is repetition. And we’re trying to make sure that we give people something different than what you here on ME and ATC. It is annoying when you here the same person interviewed about the same book on a bunch of different shows on the same day. We also want to sound different in terms of style and approach, a little more conversational, perhaps more personality. It is a tricky balance, we want to sound different, but as you said, play to NPR’s strengths at the same time.

    So we ask ourselves always if we need to do a story that has already been done, and if we are going to do it, how are we going to be different? It’s tricky, but I think we’re getting a handle on it.

    Slate writers will be doing radio stories from top to bottom, although I think they’ll almost always need a producer to help them out. Some of them are naturals at it and their work is easily converted into radio.

    Hmmm…an example. Well, why don’t we wait until Thursday and I’ll post the stories we’re doing for the pilot that day.

  • JJ Sutherland

    7.08.03

    Thanks Alex

    Alex…

    Thanks for reading what I’m doing anyway.

    Rates are tricky, and, as you know so well, are set somewhat above my pay grade. There is a tricky balance that has to be met, and we have to assure some fairness in the process, as well as some consistency. As a company we have come up with a system, is it perfect? Probably not, but I’m going to wisely leave it to others who are more deeply involved with it to figure out a better one.

    Yr. friendly neighborhood producer,

    jj

  • Julia Barton

    7.09.03

    Alex Chadwick is my hero!

    Yeah, I agree consistency is good, especially when lawyers are lurking around. But can’t you just get Bill Gates to toss in a little extra for some kind Starvation is Going Out of Style fund special to your partnership?

  • JJ Sutherland

    7.09.03

    Pilot Tomorrow

    Well, we have a show tomorrow, the first of 7 in a row. Tomorrow looks pretty good actually, lots of stuff. And as we don’t have a regular sports person yet we’ll be trying out many many people over the next couple of days. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    The hard part about producing, at least for me, is in all the details that have to be right. Is all the language correct, do we have the right intro to this guy, or the promo for that segment, how do we back announce this commentator. Where do all the files live, have I made sure we’ve done our math right and the segment won’t be too long or too short.

    I’ll post a quick critique of the show tomorrow afternoon and let you know how it went.

    jj

  • Jackson

    7.10.03

    Lots of stuff as opposed to…

    not enough? I know, I know. You have more to think about beyond the meanderings of Transom posters right now.

    Forest for the trees, leaves for the tree, etc. etc. Varying degrees of detail define different job descriptions. How much do you enjoy the detail described in "Pilot Tomorrow"? How often do you think, "If I were king of the foorrrrresssssttttt"? How often do you think "If I only had a brain?"

  • Andy Knight

    7.10.03

    JJ, I think you should get a sports guy who really doesn’t even like sports at all (just like your audience. C’mon, admit it). Someone in the heart of the Midwest. Named Andy. Just a suggestion.

  • Jason Rayles

    7.11.03

    slate

    is owned by Microsoft. I find the idea of a show half-owned by them on NPR exceedingly bizarre. I understand that Bill Gates is not an editor or producer of your show, but self-editing by reporters is a real phenomenon. A show’s character comes across in not only the ideas discussed but also in the conclusions that its reporters draw. Unless your show draws some offensive conclusions, raises eyebrows, ruffles feathers, etc., then you surely will draw fire for supporting the status quo and, by extension, gigantic, transnational corporations (dare I say monopolies) whose influence we like to believe that NPR is free of. Personally, I don’t get too worked up about these things; I acknowledge the plain fact that things actually do go better with Coke and I don’t mind saying so here on transom or on D2D or ME or ATC or TAL or NBC or ABC or Disney (oops, already said that one, I guess), but these are the kinds of politics NPR listeners are known for, so I’ll just go ahead and get it out there explicitly.

    This question is a softball. You must certainly already have a prepared defense of your decision to partner with them, so let’s hear it.

    P.S. A Buick’s a good car.

  • JJ Sutherland

    7.14.03

    Re: slate

    I’ll spare you the prepared defense, and just go with what I think. First, a minor correction, but an important one, Microsoft doesn’t own half the show. We are producing it with them, in partnership, but the program is an NPR program, Slate is producing segments for that program.

    But that aside, I honestly believe we will produce a better program with Slate, than without them. They really are some of the sharpest and smartest people I have ever met. I also think that they have done a good job over the years of covering Microsoft themselves. I expect D2D to do quite a good job covering Microsoft if events call for it.

    Also, D2D is not a standalone entity, it’s part of NPR News, and believe me, no one there is about to hestitate for a moment on Microsoft.

    jj

  • JJ Sutherland

    7.14.03

    The week

    I know I said I would post a critique of last week’s pilots here, but things got away from me, and I vowed not to spend the weekend thinking about public radio, as impossible as that is…

    So, I’ll post some show stuff tomorrow, including some pictures of us all in action…

    good night

    jj

  • Mary McGrath

    7.15.03

    Hey Boss

    Hey there old friend. You and I took this leap once before. Back then we didn’t worry about audience research; we worried about filling up two hours Every Day with interesting, new, edgy talk. There’s obvious differences between talk shows and magazine shows but what I’m most curious about is how free are you to think outside the box? I remember some of your more far out, crazy and always brilliant ideas. We put em on the air. Some worked and some didn’t. We took chances every day and that was the fun of producing a show like The Connection. Starting a new NPR show is a different animal. How will "Day to Day" be really, substantively, different and get someone like me to listen? I daresay I know why you’re doing some regular segments (for sanity) but I don’t know……
    Here’s my late entry for a name: "Between the Tentpoles."
    Break a leg, man. I wish you the best of luck. May the Force be with you. Don’t take no %%$#$$ from no one.
    Love,
    Mary

  • Jackson

    7.16.03

    Nice that Mary describes you as "Boss"

    It’s not that I’m a bastard. But in the peculiar world of online, there are many different ideals as to what questions you should answer now.

    Between Lost and found Sound, various lost Politica Aural sources, I suspect a zillion other souces. I don’t think you’ve ever come clean on Procol Harum.

    As a survivorr from WBUR. you will undobutedbly protect your buttt from the flame, yet..

  • JJ Sutherland

    7.16.03

    Boss

    To those of you who don’t know, Mary was my boss for quite a while, and what she probably doesn’t know is that I’ve always been eternally grateful. But if you don’t think Jane did audience research, you’re smoking something…

    As for far out crazy ideas…well, now I don’t have you to stop me. No, seriously, I’m following the same thing you taught me, convince me, be passionate, and heck, throw it on the air, some of it works some of it doesn’t. I just did a bit about the inherent superiority of pirates to superheroes, and I think it came off pretty well. I just referenced the high concept Connections the other day as what we should strive for…

    How will I get you to listen? I’ll work my bloody hardest, boss, it’s all you ever asked…

    love…

    jj

  • JJ Sutherland

    7.16.03

    Wednesday Night

    Okay, our first full week of pilots and it is Wednesday night. I am tired, exhausted, and exhilirated. I think we can actually pull this off every day.

    One thing I’m struggling with today is what I’ve taken to call "framing." How do you explain to the listener why this piece is on this day at this point in the show? How do you give the listener that’s been there for a while a payoff, while not losing the person who just tuned in?

    Also, the lede. To quote Khan…it tasks me. News, but not the same news that Morning Ed. or ATC will do, and something more than the newscast will provide. We’re struggling with doing a news lead, but like Mary would say, make me want to listen. And we have to figure out an exciting way to do the lead. I think we’re going to try something with the Blair visit tomorrow, if I wake up and the news is the same…

    jj

  • JJ Sutherland

    7.16.03

    Question for Transom

    Here’s a question for all of you out there…what would you lead with tomorrow or Friday? What is the top story of the day, and how would you go about approaching it?

  • Jay Allison

    7.17.03

    choice

    My question back would be – have you fully decided to go with "top story of the day" mode or are you open to something else? Or at least on days when there’s no clear winner? I know that dailyness is embedded in your title, but it also makes you just like everyone else, on public radio news and elsewhere, i.e. leading with the Top Story of the Day, etc. etc.

    What if you went SIDEWAYS, or went LONG? Maybe you could look at larger, underlying questions, or wildcards. I know that public radio is now charged with being up-to-the-second a la CNN, but the fact remains that it is poorly staffed to take on such a challenge. It does, however, have lots of smart dedicated people (including independent producers) who are good at finding things that other reporters don’t. They are good at looking at life in an unexpected way. Even here on Transom you can find a lot of that, and I swear I think that’s what people love public radio for. Not just for the Top Story.

    Your trick is to take that exceptional, off-center work and frame it, as you say. Why are we hearing this now? Why today? But if you can solve that problem, you could set yourselves apart from the rest of daily din.

  • Jay Allison

    7.17.03

    also

    also, we’d love to start hearing some clips and seeing some pics. Josh can help you when you’re ready.

  • David Greene

    7.17.03

    lede-y

    Okay,

    This may be too catholic (small "c" intentional) for Transom, but, since you asked…

    I feel a tremendous news vacuum in the middle of the day. Between "Morning Edition" and ATC, I can get several hours of people opining on "issues of the day", and some terrific Terry Gross interviews, but, if I want to know whether North and South Korea are still shooting at each other, and why they started shooting at each other, I’m kinda stuck. 45 seconds in a newscast ain’t gonna do it. I couldn’t tell you what’s on CNN in the middle of the day, because I’m not in front of the t.v…and, if I did have a tv, I’d still rather get my news from NPR (just as in the evening, I’d rather listen to ATC than watch World News Tonight).

    What’s gonna make me listen, and keep me listening? The feeling that I can trust you to fill that vacuum, and that you’re choosing a lede because you think it is the most important story for me to know and understand at that moment. I also want reportting, and not just commentary. Once I know you’re doing that, you can give me pirates vs. superheroes, and if it’s well produced and funny, you’ve got me. I don’t give a rat’s patootie how different you sound from Morning Edition or ATC, or This American Life for that matter (though I am gonna get pissed off if I hear the same book being flogged everywhere)…I just want to get re-connected to the world.

    I’ll go do my pennance now.

  • Sean Cole

    7.17.03

    Angles.

    Back when "Here and Now" (WBUR’s noon show) was a local show some big, major, national news emergency occurred. This was years before 9/11 and I can’t even remember what the story was. But they covered it. As opposed to finding the ellusive local peg to the story or leaving the news to the network newscast and going with the top local story of the day, they worked the phones, got a bunch of people, and did an hour on the breaking news and even got their show carried on other, far-flung stations. It went really well. And then the next day they went back to what they were doing.

    I guess what I’m saying is, if the news calls for it, do the news. If the obvious judgement is to lead with the top story of the day because the top story of the day is still a story, still breaking or changing, and isn’t a parrotting of the morning newspapers, of course that’s the lead. But if that’s not the case, in my mind you’re free to do what you want. I’m not saying lead with pirates vs. superheroes. I’m just saying your options are open. I like Jay’s analogy of sideways or long. What if you found something in the big story that no one else thought of and went with that, came at it from an entirely angle right from the get-go.

    I know what David’s saying about there being a big news vaccuum in the middle of the day. He’s right that there isn’t any solid news coverage in the middle of the day. But I wonder if that’s because there often isn’t any solid NEWS in the middle of the day… if it’s because the stories aren’t usually "breaking" or "developing" then, but gestating. And since many people are at work in the middle of the day they’re not able to seek out news if they want to. And if they do take the time to seek out news, many of them do it on line. (I realize these are all wild assumptions on my part.) So this prompts me to ask if the goal isn’t to make a show that people will tune into especially to hear THAT SHOW and not necessarily the news.

  • Jay Allison

    7.17.03

    news of the minute

    oops, I just saw that Sean’s post slipped in ahead of this. some repetition here. no time to edit.

    I agree with David in times when something is breaking, but if we’re talking today about what is the lede for tomorrow, how does that satisfy a need to fill the news-of-the-nanosecond vacuum in the middle of the day? Especially when the show’s being put together in the pre-dawn hours in California for noon in the East.

    (I confess, too, that except in a time of crisis, I’m generally less eager to hear that instant’s news than I am for something that will make me think or hear in a new way, something real, something I’ll remember)

  • JJ Sutherland

    7.17.03

    lede today

    Well. I think we’re trying to go a bit sideways…I’ll let you know how today’s went in a couple of hours. Today we’re doing Blair speaking before congress…but how we’re hitting it is how does a democratic leader lead a country where it doesn’t want to go? And why is Blair so strongly in favor of the war in Iraq despite public opposition in Britain…alot of people in Britain (we have a guardian correspondent on) say it is because of his Christian faith, and that he believes the war is the moral and right thing to do…

    A little sideways, but still on the news…

  • bw

    7.17.03

    framing!!

    Hey JJ

    I am very curious as to what your thoughts are on this framing thing.. in my opinion there is never a payoff when I hear framing on public radio, it seems that the only way out of the puzzle is to throw framing out the window and answer the question "why am I hearing this at this moment" with: "because extremely talented people are in charge"

    ha

    can’t wait to hear some of this stuff…

  • Barrett Golding

    7.17.03

    Top Story Today

    Prez Bush Sends Legions of 85-Year Old Drivers to Deal w/ Iraqi Insurgents.

  • Barrett Golding

    7.17.03

    Top Story Tomorrow

    text of "yellowcake" letter revealed…

    TO: "Saddam Hussayn"
    FROM: nuclear@niger.gov
    DATE: Jan 1 1904 00:00:00
    SUBJECT: Request Assistance

    DEAR SIR:

    MY NAME IS AKIMBO BOKIMBI OF THE NIGERIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY BUREAU OF MINING. YOUR NAME WAS GIVEN OF ME BY MUTUAL ACQUAINTANCE OF OURS OF WHOM YOU ARE MOST RECOMMENDED HIGHLY. BECAUSE OF ADMINISTRATIVE OVERSIGHT AND THE RECENT UNFORTUNATE DEATH OF MY SUPERIOR JONAS FALUMBOKIKOJO IT HAS COME UNDER MY PURVEY SOME 1400 KILOS OF HIGHLY ENRICHED YELLOW CAKE URANIUM.

    THIS YELLOW CAKE AS YOU MIGHT WELL IMAGINE IS QUITE HEAVY SO I CANNOT EASILY DEPOSIT IT INTO YOUR ACCOUNT BUT IF YOU WERE TO COME OVER HERE AND GET IT I KNOW IT WILL BE OF MUCH USE TO YOU AND YOU WILL BE VERY SAFE WHILE IN MY COUNTRY. PLEASE HURRY IN YOUR REPLY AS I AM QUITE KEEN TO DISPOSE OF THIS MATERIALS BEFORE I AM INVADED BY MR W. BUSH.

    SINCERELY,
    AKIMBO

  • bw

    7.17.03

    go Barrett -

    you should voice this and send it in!

    I have come across a site that is taking all these scam letters and turning them into real audio files..

    but since we are on the headline news topic here… all this week the comic strip "pearls before swine" is on the same lede topic..

    here is todays strip:

    http://www.comics.com/comics/pearls/archive/pearls-20030717.html

    they are all funny though

  • Nannette Drake Oldenbourg

    7.17.03

    and what will barrett’s show be called?

    Mary Mc G suggested the show name "Between the Tent Poles"
    I read it as "Between the Temples"

  • Jay Allison

    7.18.03

    News or Show

    I agree with BW’s assessment of "framing" if you have that liberty. Do you? I understood that you were to be a news show. If you can be a SHOW first and NEWS second, you could surely be a lot more inventive. But once you turn the words around, the framing issues of "why today?" come to the fore.

  • Andy Knight

    7.18.03

    I believe you should open with an announcer– someone like Rod Roddy– and then have Alex go into a monologue. "Good afternoon, ladies and germs! So, have you heard about Saddam and this yellow cake business? Yeah, so now Dubya is investigating Betty Crocker. Hoo-Ah! Is this thing on? No, but seriously, folks…"

  • Jackson

    7.18.03

    Kobe Bryant leads…

    the NPR headlines at 7pm the day a Brit recently branded as a mole was found dead in the English countryside. I am agog at our depth of character.

    But that’s not why I am writing. I like Jay’s notion of sidling into a story — are we going to be metaphorical as opposed to conceptual? News or news-like? Is it the news you can choose? Or is it news you can use? Is it news that Robert Johnson can blues?

    The problem with Yankee can-doism is that everything has be somehow practical. Motley Fool garbage or Dr. Archer’s tips on weight loss.

    I’ve been missing out on a sense of connection with what I’ve been hearing recently — 1000 PCs notwithstanding. I wonder if in response to the TAL scale of self-perception we haven’t lost touch with a particular kind of — well — wonder. When somebody tries to put the $750 billion tax cut in perspective, why not say — and that equals giving every man, woman, and child in this country $2700, only it’s not, because it’s only going to 16 people near Waco. Or that the given the number of jobs Shrub claims he’ll create with this tax cut, they’ll cost something $500,000 per job.

    Others elsewhere have talked about a golden age of radio — back when Krulwich was topikmeister. Some of his old ATC stuff had a butterfly in the rainforest quality to them, the startling connections and analogies — and yes, metaphors — he would make.

    So, if the show is going to have news, will the news be told in stories and not just in recountings of the facts?

  • Jackson

    7.18.03

    And another thing…

    Since we on the outside are dreaming of D2D as the bridge that will allow us to survive the dry time between ME and ATC, it seems incumbent upon me to ask: What are you going to define as "news"? Assuming, of course, that we have properly identified the mission statement of said program without actually reading it. (Somebody asked for such a thing, I think).

    One of the curious things I have experienced in my job opportunities in a public radio station located not too far from the heart of the cradle of democracy is a report I put together for the Community Activities Board, wherein I tally the various kinds of stories that air on our various news shows. Who knew that ME lives and breathes environmental problems? The World explores education?!!! ATC does more than its share on health issues.

    My guess — and it’s only an easterner’s bias, I’m sure — is that this program, originating in NPR West, is going to have, well, its *cultural* ramifications and issues.

    Does that mean we’ll have to take Arnold (of Kerry Kennedy Schreiber fame) seriously as an arbitor of taste? Or will you be able to explain how a state that once had excellent education could have succumbed to Proposition 13 and given us Ward Connerly (sp?) as the poster boy for — I dunno, Clarence Thomas?

  • JJ Sutherland

    7.22.03

    RE: Kobe Bryant Leads…

    Jackson,

    News. Well, the show will have news, but we hope to approach it in a somewhat different way than other NPR newsmags…through stories, through people, through ideas. My thinking is that people will have heard the facts on many stories by the time they turn to us (disclaimer here, unless there is a story that’s moving or breaking, then we just let people know what happened.) So our job is to put those facts into a context or metaphor or analogy that people can understand and relate to.

    But, it is tricky, it is a tricky bit to try and make sure you have enough facts, enough data for the listener to come away with something that makes sense to them. You can’t just leap halfway in, it has to be explained why you are putting this story on here, if you can’t you shouldn’t put the story on.

    For instance, tomorrow, I’m thinking that the lead will probably be the deaths of Qusay and Uday Hussein today. Probably, but maybe not, so I have some Liberia stuff lined up, just in case, and am wondering what exactly our angle on Uday and Qusay will be…We’re also throwing in an explainer on the entire reward thing. Theoretically, the Iraqi who tipped American forces off could be coming into 30 million. Interestingly, it is considered taxable income.

  • JJ Sutherland

    7.22.03

    What I did today

    So today we prepared for the pilot tomorrow and Thursday, getting back in the saddle, getting ready for the launch on Monday. I actually think we’re ready. Alex talked to a few stations today, doing 2-ways and promos about the show.

    I actually heard the first promo for the show today on KCRW. They’ve been running for a few days, but I’ve missed them. It sounded awfully official, like it is actually going to happen. There is also a piece coming out in the LA Times on Friday about the show, the reporter spent a couple of days with us last week. It is a bit odd being on the other end of the journalism thing…I kept on thinking to myself while I was being interviewed, "Don’t I tell my friends to never talk to the press?" I hope it is a good piece. Well, as long as they get the name of the show right and give out the frequency, I’ll be happy.

    Tomorrow we’re doing our second to last pilot, we’ll do another on Thursday. We’re going through the shelf of stuff we’ve produced over the past few months and making choices about next week. I think it will work…

    jj

  • Jay Allison

    7.23.03

    what you did

    I like the What You Did updates. What happens to these pilots? Who hears them? Are they immediately pickled and analyzed? It must be a strange exercise, like arranging a still birth for an autopsy.

    Can we hear one?

    I’ve mentioned this often to JJ, but I’d also like to publicly invite all other Day To Day staffers to pitch in here and post something about what you’re doing, especially so close to Launch.

    good luck…

  • Julia Barton

    7.23.03

    what it is

    I think the pilots are for program directors et al. to hear and realize this is a real show for which something else should be bumped off the air ASAP.

    As for the brothers Hussein, I really want to know, what were they doing at the house of a tribal sheikh in Kurdistan? Isn’t that supposed to be enemy territory? Were they heading for the northern border? Was it the irresistable lure of Belarus, where they probably have citizenship and a penthouse in Minsk waiting…? It would be great if you had a little Conspiracy Corner segment every week. NPR just doesn’t have enough of that sleazy speculation stuff that is what makes AM radio so alluring. Or maybe not.

  • bw

    7.23.03

    conspiracy corner

    yes yes to what julia said:

    you should have conspiracy corner every week!

    I’ve often thought of starting up a conspiracy theorist open mic night..

    that would get me out of the house!

  • Jackson

    7.23.03

    Welcome to the Boutique on the Grassy Knoll

    I like the conspiracy corner as well — not as an open mic thingee, though, because *everyone knows* that the people who book the open mics are actually in cahoots with each other. The same old ugly story. Scaiff books the Pittsburgh club and always has Starr and Drudge as headliners there — and where does Scaiff gig when he goes to NYC — Rupert’s, of course, and I don’t mean Knickerbocker.

    First, we need to find a suitably paranoid type — conspiracy in not for the mild-mannered. It takes a special kind of eye to see the relationships, a special kind of brain to make the connection.

    Then for the first series of stories, we go to Molly Ivins and discover how a man who runs this country actually ran companies, lost millions of dollars for all of pappy’s friends, and still ended up a millionaire. Maybe we will even discover how a legacy brat — read "affirmative action" for those included in the Social Register — actually got a degree from the Havard Business School.

    Hey! Why not go with Molly??!!! The Frank DeFord of politics.

  • Jackson

    7.24.03

    One step further…

    I was born the youngest child of a youngest child of a youngest child. For Albert King fans, "I was down before I begin to crawl / if it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all."

    Of course, for those born to rebel, I haven’t had bad luck at all. In the immortal words of Jessica Rabbit, "I was just drawn that way."

    In other words, among the birth order crowd, I was just born to be trouble.

    But thanks to an illuminating comment from Helen Woodward about an entry I made in the 1000 Postcards discussion on Transom, my sense here is that we should open out the discussion about institutional imperative (my phrase) and the desire to create (again my phrase).

    To typical Transom users, I’d ask: Why shouldn’t JJ include the 1000 Postcard story in Day to Day?

    To typical Transom users, I’d ask: Why should Day to Day not include Rene’s 1000 Postcard story?

    We live at a curious vortex: stories and programs, programs and stories. D2D is not yet really defined as a "story" medium. As long as the Hussein bros remain snuffed on this mortal coil, will you, JJ, pass over 1000 PCs, to meet a particular news clock?

    In other words. how do you foresee the 4.5, the 9. the 13 min clock as a function of producing cotent day by day?

  • Jay Allison

    7.25.03

    Imminent

    It’s just before Launch. What’s going on?

  • David Greene

    7.25.03

    L.A. Times article…

    In case anyone’s interested…

    http://www.calendarlive.com/tv/radio/cl-et-carney25jul25,0,3809036.story?coll=cl-home-more-channels

  • Jay Allison

    7.25.03

    Other interesting Links

    THE New NPR Day-to-Day Page:
    http://www.npr.org/programs/day/

    Online Journalism Review pieces:
    http://www.ojr.org/ojr/glaser/1054676989.php
    http://www.ojr.org/ojr/business/1056570358.php

  • Amy O’Leary

    7.26.03

    A Younger Audience?

    Hey, right there in the subhead of that L.A. times article it said that D2D was aimed at a younger audience than the other NPR newsmagazines.

    How do you practically implement that? Or is it just a theoetical byproduct of the west-coast vibe?

    Thank you,
    Amy

  • Jackson

    7.27.03

    Yeah, what’s with this "younger" thang?

    Younger who? Younger where? Younger why?

    Is Alex going to deliver ledes in rap? A couple of decades late, but still, valiant.

    Okay, no features on Procol Harum…

    BIG MISTAKE from my point of view. Them younger folk will otherwise never know what they missed.

    Does this mean, for example, that we are going to offer alternate ways of downloading audio files without suffering from RIAA?

    Let me step back: how do we know we have a "young" listenership to connect to? What will we be doing on D2D to connect to these puir sools (Irish translitirations)? And why do we worry that certain fossils on a completely other side of the continent won’t care?

  • Steve Rhodes

    7.28.03

    Starting off

    I discovered this topic a few days ago, but haven’t had a chance to post til now.

    I thought the first show was ok. I didn’t like the attempt at a cute handoff to the NPR headlines.

    Too many interviews (Gov. Davis will talk to anyone these days & I think he just did one of the weekend NPR programs) and not enough produced pieces (I’d think you’d have a backlog from the test shows). I hope you won’t interview that many people from Slate every day. I like Kinsley, but he has always been a better writer than speaker.

    I was a bit surprised there was a MarketWatch biz segment rather than one from NPR’s biz desk (though there is enough biz news on public radio, so I don’t think it is needed – I’d rather see an interesting produced piece).

    But NPR already has a good daytime newsmagazine – the Tavis Smiley show (I’m not sure when it is recorded, but it airs at 11 am on KALW in San Francisco) and it seems to do fine without Slate.

    It seems there is a traffic jam of NPR programs during the day (KQED is dropping an hour of TOTN) while the late evening (at least on KQED) consists mostly of repeats (nothing worse than hours old ATC). It seems that it would be better to produce a culture program out of LA kind of like Heat for that time slot (though obviously it is too late to do that instead of D2D).

    Obviously this is just the first show amd any program takes time to establish itself.

    Also, Alex Chadwick is doing a diary (one of my favorite parts of Slate) this week

    http://slate.msn.com/id/2086123/entry/2086165/

    Actually, might as well mention other things I like about Slate. Some of the roundtable email discussions are good, particularly the end of the year filmcritics discussion. Not sure how those could be reproduced on radio.

    One of my favorite parts of some BBC news programs is the roundup of coverage in newspapers. That could be done easily by having Eric Umansky do a verbal version of today’s papers (with an international edition thrown in every once in a while).

    Shafer is good on press. You should definately have him do a segment on Judith Miller (see if she would come on to respond). Paul Boutin ( http://paulboutin.weblogger.com ) is good on tech. I’ve talked to all three of them and they should be good on the radio.

    Rob Walker (on ads), Timothy Noah, Michael Lewis, and Virginia Heffernan (on tv) are all excellent. Regular contributions from Garry Trudeau would be great since he rarely does any media appearances. Don’t like Kaus, but he is in LA so he might be on often.

  • Jay Allison

    7.28.03

    Thanks…

    Interesting review, Steve. Transom t-shirt worthy, if you’d be wantin one.

    One can hear the show here:
    http://www.npr.org/programs/day/

    Alex’s SLATE diary, as Steve mentioned, is here:
    http://slate.msn.com/id/2086123/entry/0/

    JJ, how’d it go?

  • Jackson

    7.28.03

    Alex: not just a host, he’s a hub

    Suggested host intro (concluded): An anonymous character in the cradle of democracy has the story.

    Hey, how’re ya’ doing, Alex?

    AC: Great. So, what’s up?

    Day to Day has done its first program and…

    Back to you, Alex.

    AC: The awful phasing of Windows Media Player didn’t bug you too much, I hope.

    CoD: More than you could possibly imagine, unless, of course, they fund the program.

    AC: That’s anonymous in the cradle of democracy.

    I confess to find myself somewhat troubled at the ongoing intro/response, return/interaction with Alex. The feeling like we’re all pretending to put on a show at the same time — let me know when someone notices egg yolk on someone else’s tie.

    This, to me, is the sound of the 6 o’clock news I can’t bear to hear any more. Chet and Natalie — well, they used to like each other — David and Chet (how many Chets were there in this business?). Why not have Alex introduce himself as if he were our waitor:

    Might I recommend Segment D, the Kinsley comment? And with this course the wine I would recommend is the…

    It’s not that I don’t like the stories. Pesca did, as it were, some nice fishing — a good story that should have legs. No doubt the nice guy at Andrews is not going to return calls often. I’m sure the nice guys at Slate will pursue this. Still, it would worth pursuing week by week.

    But if medium is the message, I couldn’t imagine creating an imaginary quasi-conversation with Alex, unless you pull in the Cartalk "you can only do this if the answer is two" kind of response.

    So, Alex, how many legs do you think I walked in on today?

    AC: you can only do this if the answer is two

    Do you think my new lenses will help my eyesight?

    AC: you can only do this if the answer is two

    There is, of course, the always popular "Hey, lady, your sign fell down!" Raucous laughter.

    Maybe I’m being a crank — and you’re reading it here for the very first time — but unless this is very live with people who’ve timed the acid just right, this could get hokey extremely quickly.

    I’ll just lie here on the railroad track and wait for my seat on the express.

  • Jackson

    7.28.03

    And while we’re at it…

    perhaps there will be some more detail in a near-future show on this:

    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=530&ncid=530&e=5&u=/ap/20030728/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/terror_market

  • Sean Cole

    7.29.03

    Uninformed Opinion

    Just took a quick, cursory tour through today’s show. I agree about the dearth of produced pieces. I think the writing is very good, very smart and clear and creative and entertaining. And I think Alex’s interviewing style is refreshing and these 2-ways (one-on-one interviews) are taking a bit of a different approach to their chosen stories (sort of sidling up to them). And 2-ways are necessary. But I think there’s only a certain distance you can go into a listener’s imagination with them. My prejudice has always been toward taped radio over live radio. And 2-ways, when they’re done well, sound like they’re live and often are constrained in the same way, just by their nature.

    I also agree that you don’t need a DAILY business segment. That’s a lot of business when you might not always have a story as good as the Terrorism Futures.

    All that said I like what I heard. I definitely does sound different and refreshing, which was seems to have been part of the goal.

    PS: If you ID Slate at the top, do you need to ID every one of the Slate contributors as being from Slate? Can you call them Day to Day’s so-and-so? Otherwise I think it sounds a little like Alex is obsessed with this one magazine, which I know is not the point. My 2 cents. Can’t buy much.

    PPS: Julian Marshall (sp?) from the BBC is filling in at WBUR this week. I just heard his voice emanate from the next cube over, practicing a billboard or something. It’s like watching someone climb out of your TV and work over the lines for their sitcom. Still can’t see him behind the cork wall but it’s a different kind of not seeing somehow. Sorry. Too much acid.

  • David Greene

    7.29.03

    was it just really humid?

    Since I had a hand in producing one of the all-time worst debut programs in the history of public radio, I’ll spare you my lame-ass critique (which is not meant to imply that anyone else’s critique is lame-ass). But, there is something that’s really bothering me:

    In Monday’s "buzzword" segment, did I really hear a crack of thunder the first time William Saletan said the word "God"? And, if I really did hear it, is there any chance that there just happened to be a window open in the studio, and a really quick thunderstorm went by, just as he said that word?

  • Jackson

    7.29.03

    The story behind the story…

    Maybe what Mr. Greene noticed was synergy at work. I had read the Lieberman story two days before I heard it online in yesterday’s show.

    So here we have two outlets more or less in the news business. Apart from TP and Doonesbury, there is nothing to say that the content of Slate changes day in, day out, while D2D needs 50+ minutes every day. Have you guys figured out who gets first dibs to a story, and why?

    More to the point, in either of the two media, surely there should be something *more* than just turning online content into audio and vice versa. Which might explain why the crack of thunder David queried.

    My own sense is that if you’re going to go there, *go*. If you are going to go there, make unabashed irreverence a signature element of the program, capable of bursting forth at any minute. In other words, WWSD. That is: What Would Spike (Milligan or Jones — it matters not) Do?

    But if you’re not going to make such things a fundamental aspect of the show, then why should a regular Slate reader tune in on D2D if he or she already knows the story?

  • Steve Rhodes

    7.30.03

    Regular Slate readers

    I would imagine that only a small percentage of Day to Day’s initial audience regular Slate readers who would have read the piece (and I saw the headline, but hadn’t read it yet).

    I actually did research for a book that was similar to that feature by Norman Solomon. It came out in 92 and was called The Power of Babble: The Politician’s Dictionary of Buzzwords and Doubletalk for Every Occasion (and it was partly based on Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary). I ended up reading way too many political speeches.

    There probably will be greater coordination between when pieces appear on the radio and online as the show goes along.

    I thought the second show was better (though I didn’t listen as closely because I was writing cover letters for jobs).

    I like David Pogue’s writing and I must admit that losing my Treo 300 cell phone/PDA last week has made my life a mess.

  • JJ Sutherland

    7.31.03

    Sorry for the Radio Silence

    Okay, here’s what’s been happening.

    We launched 4 days ago. We got an interview with CA Gov. Gray Davis (he’s facing a recall election) for the first show, which was nice. I think it went well, lots of kudos anyway, for what they’re worth. The last few days have been a total blur.

    I think I liked Tuesday the best, we threw out the whole first 13 minutes of the show and did the story about the Texas Democratic Senators fleeing the state to avoid having to vote on redistricting. I now have a new law of radio: When possible, put Texans on the air. Accents, character, the whole bit…love ‘em.

    Monday night I collapsed…on Tuesday I was so tired I couldn’t even change the channel on the TV away from the Wheel of Fortune, the remote was just too far away. But by yesterday I seemed to be a little normal.

    So, I’m getting in at 5:30, writing stuff for Alex (today I did an essay on the last VW Bug which was kinda fun). The trick is making sure that everyone understands what they are supposed to do.

    There has been some craziness in the studio because of mislabeled scripts, or a misunderstanding on who is supposed to be writing a script. There were a few, shall we say, terse, conversations, but what came out of the box sounded pretty good, if I say so myself.

    Still not quite the show I want it to be, I think it should be a little sharper in some way that I can’t define, but will know when I hear it. But it’s the first week. Jay Kernis told me, "Do it once a week this month, then twice and so on…" The show as it is now isn’t the show that it will be in six months and that is important to keep in perspective.

    I need more freelance pieces…if anybody wants to pitch us, write an e-mail to Martha Little at mlittle@npr.org. She’s pretty cool, and we are definitely in the market.

    It’s just hit me today that we have to do this every single bloody day. Forever. Should be an interesting ride….I’ll post more tomorrow on my thoughts on the whole week.

    jj

  • helen woodward

    8.01.03

    every single bloody day…

    it must be so daunting, imagining all those days and weeks and months lying ahead of you and your team jj, but you must be thrilled to be approaching the last show of the first week. It has been very interesting to read about the preparations, thanks for making time to post.
    on the subject of freelance pieces, anything in partuclar you are listening for? any guidelines on subject matter or length etc..?
    More importantly any big celebrations planned for this afternoon, or is it straight to the couch for recovery and the wheel of fortune?

  • Steve Rhodes

    8.01.03

    Opposing voices

    I saw Dahlia Lithwick’s on rape and should have posted then that I hoped if you had her on, you would have someone who could challenge her view. I hope you still will have someone like , a USC prof who wrote a book on sexual assualt laws called Real Rape or perhaps a DA from Santa Monica which has a reputation for doing a better job of prosecuting sexual assault than most jurisdictions.

  • JJ Sutherland

    8.01.03

    Party Time

    So, it’s Friday afternoon, or early evening…and we’re having a party tonight. Should be fun, although these kind of things always feel a little bit like work.

    But we did it, one week, and only one major screwup technically, and, you know what, in the grand scheme it wasn’t that major. Fired the wrong piece, then did it again, then tried to fix it. The secret is that if you do the wrong piece, pretend that is what you meant to do all along. Although Alex did the best he could and acknowledged the mistake on the air, which is important to do as well if you’ve already screwed up in an obvious way. It’s not like people don’t notice…

    But I plan a long weekend of, well, of nothing. Or perhaps more accurately, spending some time with my wife, who has been incredibly patient with me and with this whole process.

    jj

  • Daniel Costello

    8.02.03

    Mistakes

    Thanks for acknowledging mistakes. My local NPR station has serious problems with its automation equipment and almost never admits mistakes. They play the news or weather from a previous day, truncate breaking news with automated promos, promo the upcoming stories of the wrong hour, etc. The only time they have acknowledged a mistake that I have heard is when the host thought the mic was off and said fuck to the equipment several times…

    I hate that they think their listeners are too dumb to notice. Best thing is to just fix the problem!

  • JJ Sutherland

    8.03.03

    Sunday

    Well, it’s Sunday afternoon and I’m in the office, which I think will be something of a pattern for a while. No big news, so I think we’ll go with the show we have (that of course might change in the next few hours).

    Today, I’m trying to get a grip on futures planning. What are we going to do for 9/11? What events are coming up that we should pay attention to? Are there particular anniverseries we should do? What pieces are in the pipeline? What pieces should be in the pipeline? What are we doing this week…or next week?

    I’m supposed to write a bit of an essay type thing for tomorrow we’re calling the index. I’m trying to figure out a way to avoid writing it because I am drawing a blank on something clever and pithy to say…Hmmm…that Walk of Fame piece would fit nicely in the end of the B…

    jj

  • Jay Allison

    8.03.03

    Anniversaries

    Anniversaries. What if you sometimes didn’t do them, or even made a point of not doing them? Is that broadcast heresy?

    The handy thing about anniversaries is that they answer that question of "why now" for things you wanted to do anyway. They let you frame some beautiful random piece about a civil war battlefield by tieing it, however loosely, to today.

    On the other hand, the obligatory anniversary pieces are so often dreary in their expectedness.

    (We’re about to feature a piece on German Lawn Mower Racing here on Transom. How relaxing not to have to find a peg.)

  • JJ Sutherland

    8.04.03

    re: anniversaries

    I completely agree with you about the sheer predictability and dreariness of obligatory anniversaries.

    But they do give you a reason to do pieces you’d like to do anyway. For example this September is the 25th anniversary of 60 minutes, and I’ve always wanted to interview Don Hewitt anyway, so why not?

    And tomorrow, 41st anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death, gives me a chance to have someone try on her dresses…

    jj

  • Mary McGrath

    8.04.03

    Foreign News

    How will you cover what’s going outside of the U.S.? My favorite story last week by far was the David Kelly/BBC wrangle. You know how I feel about anniversary stories. We never did em at TC. Be Bold!!!!!

  • David Greene

    8.04.03

    tick tick tick

    Actually, it’s the 35th anniversary of "60 Minutes". No, I’m not old enough to remember watching the debut…I just remember all the 25th anniversary stories 10 years ago. :-)

  • Steve Rhodes

    8.04.03

    anniversary archivies

    One websites for news organizations don’t take advantage of enough are the archives. Instead of doing a long story on an anniversary, people can be directed to the website with past stories on the topic.

    It will be a while before D2D has that kind of audio archive (though there are Slate pieces – they are one of the few sites to regularly highlight old stories in a feature called recycled).

    Most people won’t go and listen to the stories but many of those who are interested will (and more and more people over time will access to listening online).

    For example, here are some of the Monroe related stories NPR online:

    on Some Like It Hot May 20, 2001

    June 1, 1996 (this doesn’t have the audio online, but it might be the kind of thing worth putting online)

    Sept. 27, 1999

    More than a thousand items that once belonged to movie queen Marilyn Monroe will soon be sold at auction. NPR’s Margot Adler reports…

    Commentator Herbert Baumel tells us about Marilyn Monroe’s rehearsal for her 1962 "Happy Birthday" song to President John F. Kennedy…the gown shw wore was auctioned last night.

    Amateur sound recorder Phil Gries is passionate about the audio of television’s past. On reel-to-reel tape he has the sound of Roger Maris hitting his record-breaking 61st home run, interviews with Marilyn Monroe…

    Aug. 29, 1998

    In 1954, Marilyn Monroe took time out from her honeymoon with Joe Dimaggio to perform for American troops in Korea. Dave Geary, was a medic stationed just outside of Seoul, and found himself in the second row with his camera…

  • tod mesirow

    8.04.03

    unsure of the intentions…..

    below is an e-mail I sent directly to the show….until I showed up here, I had no idea the concept was to reach a "younger" audience….there’s no clue to that in any aspect of the show, other than the incredibly short length of the stories….otherwise, the show sounds like most other news-based show on NPR.

    hello.

    as a decades-long NPR listener, I’m increasingly appalled by the direction in which NPR is heading. this program is new, I know, and still searching for its own distinctive voice; rest assured it hasn’t found it yet.

    the entire beginning of today’s show had so many stories I thought I was listening to USA Today on the radio. where’s the depth?

    if you’re trying to differentiate yourself from Morning Edition and All Things Considered, why not try something new? how about theme shows on current topics now obsessing the nation and the world? this "mc-story" approach isn’t working.

    and, it might be nice to have the relationship with SLATE spelled out…..who’s running the show? Slate or NPR?

    as far as I’m concerned, you have a long long way to go.

    Tod Mesirow
    Los Angeles

    http://www.wayfun.com

  • Jackson

    8.04.03

    Control the calendar; don’t let the calendar control you!

    If it’s September, it’s back to school time. Fortunately, the emergence of Hispanic tradition in American culture has saved us from trying to preserve May Day in the face of the fall of communism. Cinco de maio scores big.

    I used to work for a show where everything was based on anniversaries — except, strangely, the weekly Bach cantata. For those of you who don’t know, Bach composed cantatas to fit the liturgical calendar. The Feast of Whit Sunday, for example, would feature commentary culled from the Comedy of Errors.

    And yet these cantatas were played not by the liturgical calendar, but by the specious numbering system concocted by a cataloguer a century after Bach had died. Chances were better than even you might hear one of the Advent cantatas right in the middle of Lent.

    The problem is submission to peculiar types of tyranny — and few things are more tyrannical than the calendar, except maybe a ruthless pursuit of numerical order.

    Why not make up occasions? Let the content dictate the show. How about Habadashery Day, when you get enough of a backlog on stories about hats and clothing? Black Monday, once a month (damn! There’s that calendar again — better have Black Monday on the occasional Tuesday) on how people pay their bills and keep their heads above water. It used to be enough to have first one, then two wage earners in the family. Now what? Is it time to send the kids off to the wool mills in Haiti?

    In the let’s pretend occasions: "196 years, 3 months, and 2 days ago, the French saved the American ass from the fire of… In recognition of this occasion, D2D offers up recipes for Tahitian gumbo."

    Of course, there you are, stuck with the name D2D. Jeezum crow, at least you didn’t call it My Weekly Reader. Or, in honor of Doonesbury on Slate last week, "Heavens to Betsy, no!"

    So much of radio has become in its various ways predetermined. At 20 minutes before the hour, I will find myself mysteriously moved. In the first segment of the second hour on Saturday, I will hear Dan Schorr. If Dan isn’t there, I feel weird.

    Long ago, I wondered about these little timing mechanisms — the insidious little clocks of radio. Now I wonder if the way you make D2D sound different from everything else on pubrad is to throw out the calendar. Throw out the clock. Surprise us each and every day with a different rhythm.

  • Tim Allik

    8.08.03

    On being different but not too different

    Hi JJ,

    Righteous effort with lots of potential. A few quick comments:

    1. I like that you’ve broken up the show into segments for online audio, but it would be nice to be able to also have the opportunity hear the show in its entirety, with the intro and bumper music mixed in. The air check so to speak…

    2. On anniversaries. The only anniversary shows that work IMO are the ones that celebrate the anniversary of something you didn’t know happened in the first place. Boston’s Great Molasses Flood of 1919, for example. Now THAT’S a story.

    3. Calls from listeners. There’s something about live phone calls that really sounds LIVE. It’s also slightly dangerous to produce, which adds to the excitement. Not for you, for the listener ;)

    4. I dig audio diaries by people from all walks of life all over the world about everything. Is that broad enough for you?

    5. Humor. People always can use a laugh. Sometimes NPR takes itself too seriously, imo. Don’t get me wrong, I love NPR. But it’s OK to be silly/funny sometimes.

    I will be listening to the show as it develops. All the best,

    Tim

  • Julia Barton

    8.09.03

    cross-referencing cross-dressing

    I just wanted to post a link to a story D2D ran last week by Transom’s guest of the month for April (along with yrs truly), Alex Kleimenov. He’s running all over Siberia and the Far East gathering material, and got this story in Vladivostok:

    http://discover.npr.org/features/feature.jhtml?wfId=1385837

    Thanks for airing this one, guys!

  • Werner Brand

    8.10.03

    Contact

    Could you please forward me a email adress were I could get in contact with Herman Chinery-Hesse. / Or telephone number

    Thanks and Regards.

  • Jay Allison

    8.21.03

    Thank you, JJ

    JJ’s tenure is just about up.

    JJ,. I want to thank you again for taking the time out of what was already an insane schedule to come here and comment on the insanity. Good luck with your radio program. We’ll be listening and contributing.

    Feel free to continue post here if you have something to say to the type of people who frequent the place, whoever they are.

  • Jackson

    8.22.03

    When to talk and when not to chatter

    Today on Slate, they had a link to D2D:
    http://www.npr.org/features/feature.php?wfId=1404244

    A couple of things struck me as I heard this: D2D has pursued certain host/producer dialogs in the past. The thing that struck me here is that Tim really needed to talk with someone. He was, essentially, asking questions to himself — and if we aren’t paying literlally tens of dollars to Alex, why should Tim be talking to himself?

    I have been a bastard in this discussion and I apologize, but we’re all here because we have incredible dreams about RADIO — not the broadcasting thing reaching into the dark and stormy night, but the undifferientated diffusion of signal into the ether, whether it’s online or in the ether.

    JJ has had to deal with realms of time zones only Micheal Milken never had to deal with when he moved to the West Coast.

    Sorry, JJ, but we are dealing with shifting perameters of what defines "ether" — or, for that matter, radio.

    Slate is an online phenom, broadcast is broadcast. Online deals in clocks we never would have imagined. It would be fascinating to encounter a place where the enthusiams of online enthusiasts overlap with the enthusiasm of online entrepreneurs:

    to wit:
    http://www.npr.org/features/feature.php?wfId=1404244

  • Nannette Drake Oldenbourg

    8.22.03

    "smart, fun, fast"
    I’m just hoping you can hold onto "wise."

    For example, when a European country rep. made a statement diagreeing with the U.S. president a few months ago and on ATC the statement was quickly characterized as "anti-American" rather than something more specific, like "disagreeing with the U.S. administration, or pacifist or…

    I was disturbed. I’m afraid there’s no turning back from our fast characterizations.

    Thank goodness you have Alex and your good team. I hope future teams can be as thoughtful.

    JJ, do you also see a challenge in being both quick and wise? Do you wish you could do another show like the original Connection?

  • Steve Rhodes

    8.25.03

    Harvey Pekar

    I’m not sure if JJ is still reading this, but D2D should start running the Harvey Pekar does for WKSU. I listened to the hour long comilation the other day and a few of the other commentaries.

    One of them was about how Morning Edition rejected him. D2D has a chance to rectify that mistake.

  • JJ Sutherland

    8.28.03

    This is it…my life now.

    Okay, it’s been almost five weeks now since launch. I’m still working 12 hours a day, my eyes don’t seem to want to open after a night’s sleep, my wife seems to be something of a stranger at times, and I try not to think too much about how much coffee I’m drinking. And I’m having the time of my life.

    I do hope it calms down a bit, and I’m sure it will, eventually, but I love it. I get to open up the toychest everyday and play with anything I want to. Someone on the staff has an idea at 6 am, it’s on the air 3 hours later. Always wanted to talk to someone, they’re only a phone call away. Want to write an essay about something, you can do it and put it on the air. The only thing stopping you is your own hesitation.

    Of course, now I worry not about launching a show, but doing a show. I have to constantly be critiquing, analyzing, reading, searching for stories and talent and ideas. And I worry every night about whether the show is as good as it can be, what I didn’t do that I could do to fix it.

    Best job ever.

  • herman chinery-hesse

    4.30.04

    MR

    Hi JJ,
    You were looking for me?
    H.

  • herman chinery-hesse

    1.17.05

    herman chinery-hesse’s address

    herman chinery-hesse’s address
    herman@softtribe.com

  • Steve Rhodes

    3.08.06

    Now an NPR blogger

    From Mixed Signals, NPR’s new blog

    "My name is JJ Sutherland. I am a producer. I work for NPR. As of today, I am also a blogger. I’ve been producing shows and in the field for about 15 years now, and while I understand that process fairly well, I’m new to blogging, and so is NPR."

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5251027

    I guess this is the main url for the blog (though hopefully they’ll get something a bit more human readable with blog or mixed signals in it)

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5251026

  • Jay Allison

    3.25.06

    JJ on his way

    JJ’s blog on npr.org has become a regular stop for me. Here’s the list of all the stuff he just packed for Iraq, where he’ll be producing for a while:

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5299910