I started at NPR on January 5, 1987 after almost 10 years in commercial radio. NPR Programming VP Jay Kernis was among the people who interviewed me for my first job at NPR.
Jay was producer of Weekend Edition Saturday at the time. He looked at my resume, which included carefully selected ratings successes I achieved as a commercial radio PD, and said, “We don’t really pay much attention to this stuff, but we probably should.”
Coming from commercial radio and paying attention to ratings made some folks in the NPR newsroom a bit wary of me. I wasn’t at NPR very long when I started taking some heat for wearing my Brooks Brothers suits to work everyday. I was actually chastised, and not always in good nature, for being a conformist. I didn’t understand that one since just about everybody around me at the time looked like they shopped at Banana Republic.
Fifteen years later, while wearing some really sharp Banana Republic khakis with my Brooks Brothers button-down shirt (open collar, no tie), a newly-arrived underwriting executive at a client station, just off the commercial broadcasting boat himself, declared the station no longer had use for my services as I was one of public radio’s old Birkenstock crowd. It didn’t seem to matter that I was really wearing Rockports.
Happily, those two fashion-profiling incidents were nothing more than humorous blips in what have been a great twenty years. I’ve been fortunate to work in just about every area of public radio nationally and locally; listener fundraising, underwriting, research, promotion, programming, news, the web, engineering, and planning and policy. I have to tell you, there are a lot of terrific people in public radio. It’s why listeners pay attention, why they give money, and why they stay with public radio for decades.
In that regard, I’m just like a listener. Thanks for so many good years. I’m really looking forward to this one.