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Fri April 12, 2013
An Open Letter To Backseat Babies Everywhere
Dear Backseat Baby,
Hey. Yeah you, in the backseat! I know you're trying to pretend like you're not listening to whatever it is Mom or Dad have droning on through the car speakers, but you should listen up. It might not seem terribly important at the moment, but there are a lot of us working on the other side of that radio, and some day, you might too.
Hold on, you might be saying. There's no way anybody younger than 60 is talking right now. Well, young sir or madam, let me be the first to tell you that you are a terrible judge of voice age, because we here at NPR represent a wide range of age groups. (To be clear, we do treasure and respect the wisdom that comes with time.)
I was you once, dear Backseat Baby. I, too, questioned my parents' sanity as they continuously opted for the seemingly boring conversation of news and information radio rather than the happening pop beats further up the dial. I wanted a little motion in my afternoon commute. I would have even settled for the local oldies station if it meant not hearing the latest political chatter going on in some strange foreign land called 'Washington.'
Today, I'm coming to you from the other side of the car speakers to convince you there's more to be had at NPR than just colorful trumpets and quirky voices. There's a lot of us here inside your radio - young and old - and we do more than you might imagine.
Some of us report the news, it's true. Others produce web pages. Some cut and clip audio, others edit text, and others even shoot video and take pictures (which you can't see from your backseat perch).
What's most exciting about working here, though, is the people you interact with every day, even as a not-so-lowly intern. It's a true team effort around these halls, and listeners on both sides of those speakers can hear the distinctive results.
You might hold the door open for Audie Cornish (she co-hosts All Things Considered and was once an intern herself). Or maybe, you reach for the same piece of cake at an employee function as Bob Mondello (he reviews movies). Perhaps you'll spend an hour talking about the future of journalism with Guy Raz (he hosts the TED Radio Hour and also wore an NPR intern badge) or talk about what it's like to trail a Presidential campaign from start to finish over coffee with Ari Shapiro (he covers the White House and Congress, and yep, you guessed it: intern, circa 2001).
You might regularly ponder pop culture with Linda Holmes (she's behind the Monkey See blog) or perhaps make book-related puns with Petra Mayer (of NPR Books). On special days, you might sit in on a taping of All Things Considered, or, if you're an intern at ATC, you'll run in and out of Studio 2A every single afternoon with scripts and text and updates for hours on end.
Or maybe, just maybe, you'll be as lucky as I was one spring morning and wander into work to see a band you like eating hard boiled eggs and avocados as they take a break from filming the next Tiny Desk Concert. Maybe you'll eat one of those eggs, and suddenly feel that life is pretty wonderful.
See, Backseat Baby, what I'm trying to tell you is that life at NPR is pretty wonderful on the whole. And you can have that life someday, if you want.
I won't pretend to know what kinds of things you're interested in doing when you grow up, what schools you'll go to or what books you'll read and learn to love. But I am certain that wherever you go, there will be a NPR Member Station within earshot. And I hope you'll tune in and listen of your own accord, maybe even from the front seat. Maybe you'll hear me inside the radio. Maybe one day, you'll hear yourself.
Backseat Baby Class of '89
Nick Andersen is a spring 2013 intern on NPR's digital arts team. A native Detroiter, he is a 2012 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a cat person.