Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Back to NPR … and loving it!

I just got back from my NPR taping. It went well, I think. I'm feeling good. So please disregard the column a few screens down. The one in which I'm critical of an NPR story. No hard feelings, right? We're friends again.

My commentary--my first in four years--was slated to run on New Year's Day, though now it looks like it'll be the following Monday. Or it was, depending on when you're reading this.

One of my New Year's wishes is to do more NPR Commentaries. Another is to get better at blogging--what IS this blog about anyway? (If the still popular Seinfeld was a show about nothing, can a blog about nothing be successful too?) And Twittering and Facebooking, etc. If anybody reading this has any advice, please do share.

Arriving at NPR West is an experience of mixed reactions. It's in a nondescript building. A warehouse. In a fairly industrial area. A far cry from the Sony Studios a few blocks to the north!

I'm nervous. I'm five minutes late. But nowhere near as nervous as I was on my previous visit, four years ago.

Yet inside the place is very hip but quiet. Casual, clean. I'm energized and my nervousness evaporates.

I keep thinking it would make a great lounge/café. It's got exposed pipes and things in the high ceiling, and TV screens abound. An echoey space, yet quiet as a library. Lots of glass-walled, soundproof mini studios.

I was escorted to one of the smallest studios. Passing and passing up the offered donuts and snack machine. My older daughter, Paula, and my assistant Beethoven are with me. They sat out in the lounge area. Don't think they took any donuts or Fritos either.

My studio really only had room for one. I pulled up to the desk, which was easier than I remembered, now that I no longer drive my wheelchair with a hand control. The last time I was here, the hand control bumped the desk and I had to position myself way back.

Before removing himself to the lounge area, Beethoven removed the device I now use to drive my chair, which is a mini-joystick installed on a plastic collar. He helped position my script on the page holder. The studio person pulled a hotdog-size microphone close to my mouth. In front of me were two computer screens and a lot of switches and dials. Which I willfully ignored. Beethoven gave me a swallow of water and then left the room.

Through the big headphones I was introduced to my producer Joanna, in Washington. After some introductory bla bla bla, I set in to read my bit.

It went smoothly. I even remembered to substitute "in the past year” for "this past year," as my editor Maeve had requested, and to take out the word "little" when describing my daughters.

"You were clear and had energy," said Joanna. "I'm going to ask you to read the whole thing one more time, just in case." I did, and that was it. No additional retakes (unlike in my last visit).

We were out of there in less than a half-hour.

A good end to an un-bad year. Or a good beginning for the new one, I suppose, depending on when it's actually broadcast.

Afterward, dropped off Paula at the Starbucks on the Third Street Promenade to meet her friend Gina. They were going for birthday makeovers (Paula turned 14 yesterday) and a movie. It's raining outside. I hope Paula remembered her umbrella.

Here's hoping 2010 brings everyone umbrellas if it's raining--as well as peace and joy, good fortune and good health, whatever the weather.

(One curmudgeonly note: I trust we can stop saying "two-thousand and..." and get back to the simpler way of saying years. You know, as we last did in good ol' nineteen-ninety-nine. In this case, saying "twenty-ten" instead of "two-thousand-and-ten." Y'think?)