WITHIN THE FAMILY
Morning Radio Without the Screaming
By Alex Sachare ’71
Sometimes I’m a little late to the dance.
It wasn’t until we decided to profile Soterios Johnson ’90,
New York host of National Public Radio’s Morning
story), that I finally decided to give NPR a shot.
I thought it would be helpful in editing the article if I
was familiar with Johnson and the program, but that turned
out to be only one benefit of tuning in. Better yet, I finally
found something I could enjoy listening to in the morning.
My commute from Westchester to Morningside Heights ranges
from 45 minutes to an hour or more with rush-hour traffic.
For years I bounced between soft rock, talk shows hosted by
self-indulgent yahoos and all-sports stations where know-it-all
hosts try to out-shout each other. The less they had to say,
the louder they said it. Tapes and CDs became a refuge, but
I still wished for something better.
A colleague suggested books on tape, but I guess I’m
too old school for that. I like the feel of a book
in my hands, the experience of reading words on paper. To
me, a book is something of substance, something weighty,
not something that wafts upon the airwaves and then vanishes
into the ozone. Knowing how much blood, sweat and tears goes
into a book, the thought of sitting behind the wheel and
having someone read to me as I motor down the Saw Mill Parkway
leaves me cold.
But, thanks to a CCT story assignment, I now have NPR
programmed on my radio. I’d heard about NPR for decades, but I’d
always thought it would be too staid for my tastes. Well, maybe
my tastes have changed, but tuning into Morning
Edition is a pleasure.
The hosts, Renée Montagne and Steve Inskeep, are easy
to listen to, educated and erudite without being stuffy. More
importantly, the stories are done in a way that draws you
in. Much like on CBS News Sunday Morning, first with Charles
Kuralt and now Charles Osgood, the stories tend to be longer
looks at a broader range of topics than you find on other
news shows, or profiles that delve in more depth into the
lives of celebrities or ordinary people, some doing extraordinary
things, some not. Reporters and interviewers, since they don’t
have to worry about getting dramatic sound bites, tend to
be more circumspect and thought-provoking. There’s
no shouting on NPR, and I appreciate the civility.
During a half-hour between news updates recently, there
was an elegant essay by an English teacher from New
Orleans about her displacement by Hurricane Katrina to a
bucolic suburb of Atlanta and how she misses her gritty hometown;
a report on the impact of gentrification on Los Angeles’ skid
row; coverage of an expedition to study life that exists in
and under the Arctic ice cap and how these life forms are
being impacted by global warming; and a piece on how full-length
performances of Broadway shows have become the latest in Las
Vegas entertainment fare — such as Avenue Q at Steve
Winn’s new hotel. This smorgasbord is typical for Morning
Edition, and that is one of the program’s appeals.
You never know what to expect when you tune in.
Johnson does local newscasts that weave around the
national news and features. He also does feature reporting.
And because he’s an alum and we decided to do a profile, I’m
now a regular listener to Morning Edition.
Sometimes I’m a little late to the dance, but better
late than never.