Forget television! Growing up in my house the radio was always playing. I couldn’t study, shower, walk, sleep, or eat without it. My taste in music changed over the years throughout my distinct rebellious phases. However, my parents tastes were un-waivering. It was always National Public Radio with programs like Fresh Air, Prairie Home Companion, The Car Guys, and Mystery Theater. I loved it when my parents turned on NPR. Especially during those long car trips.

My brother was the biggest radio fanatic of all of us. He ran the high school radio station and after college rode the airwaves from disc jockey to program director to national radio consultant. He now co-owns eleven popular radio stations in California. My niece, twelve years old, has her own station called School of Pop that she streams live. And before you skip over the link thinking it’s child play, think again, it’s a great station. Don’t ever play Name That Tune with her, because she knows every song in the book regardless of genre and can tell you when it first played, where it was recorded, who recorded it, and more. I guess you could say we’re a pro-radio family.

So when Katie Macpherson, asked to do a radio interview for World Radio Paris, an NPR affiliate, I jumped at the chance. I met her at the metro station close to my apartment and we walked down to my local farmer’s market to shop for seasonal produce and then headed back to my apartment to cook it up while she interviewed me about life in Paris and cooking in a French restaurant. For three hours we cooked, ate, taped, and talked. How she edited all that jammer down to five minutes is beyond me!

If the player is not working try this link: WRP Interview by Katie Macpherson

Something happens to my brain when I have a microphone in my face. The gerbals stop running up there. My own story – my own history – disappears. Luckily Katie is a great journalist and she kept those questions coming for three hours en plus despite fish scales flying around like confetti and various dishes cooking on the stovetop. It’s a little nerve wracking to cook with a microphone a few inches from your face, like rubbing your belly and patting your head simultaneously. Challenging but fun.

I like Katie, she’s quirky. She’s this beautiful young American woman who is petit, cheerful, and smart. And yet despite her diminutive frame and sweet disposition, I can somehow picture her elbowing her way through a pack of crowded reporters and getting the headline story. She’s not afraid to ask questions and she’s not afraid of people. That may sound simplistic, but the reality takes faith and determination. I don’t think I could do it.

I was intrigued with her desire to pursue radio journalism, when clearly she would be equally successful on TV. I know that she has dabbled in television but her heart remains with radio perhaps due to the simplicity of medium – no heavy cameras to lug around, no makeup to put on, no camera shy interviewees or camera-loving candidates. If the story and the relationship with the interviewee are the objectives, then radio, seems to me, to be the purest way of capturing it.

Being interviewed was an enlightening experience. I sometimes interview myself in the shower and I definitely have been grilled during job interviews, but this was different. This was personal. And yet, it was so easy to open up to her. She asked me questions I had never thought about which ultimately helped me to gain some personal clarity. Everybody should be interviewed, it’s cheaper than therapy and gets a lot off your mind!

I couldn’t help but to ponder afterwards, if our world is becoming too visually focused – if we are loosing our oral traditions. When I taught English in India, I used radio plays as a teaching tool. The students loved reading the lines and performing the sound effects. My students always laughed nervously when they heard their first lines played back through the tape recorder but after a few minutes they became entranced with the story itself. They understood the idea of story telling and listening because it is such a rich part of Indian culture. Later, in the Bay Area, I used radio plays again in my theatre classes but my students struggled with the concept. They were unaccustomed to communicating a story through their voices or listening to the story played back without squirming around. They wanted to see everything acted out.

Hope you enjoy listening to this short interview. We had a great time making it even if my brain wasn’t functioning properly. I think the background sounds are especially fun. Wish there was more of Katie’s voice in it. I interviewed her a little during our session, but she obviously cut that out. We joked about starting a radio cooking show. Heck, if The Car Guys can fix engines through the airwaves then perhaps it’s possible to teach French technique. They’re both time consuming and ridiculously complicated. Anyway, hope you find the interview entertaining and please check out World Radio Paris if you’re living in France.

There’s some interesting stories to be heard out there…

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