NPR Nerd

February 18th, 2010

I’m something of a public radio nerd. I listen to Morning Edition on the drive into work and Fresh Air or All Things Considered on the way home. Religiously. I have favorite reporters and know their beats well enough to predict who will be covering a topic if I hear about it (If it’s in France, it’s Eleanor Beardsley. If Italy, Sylvia Poggioli.* China? That sounds like a job for Louisa Lim.) And if I miss the introduction, I can sometimes recognize their voices.

But that’s not what makes me a nerd. That’s just a loyal listener. Even the fact that I can (and do) hum along with the segment theme songs (and not just the main ones. Want to hear me do the bit for “All Tech Considered?”) doesn’t make me a true nerd.

No, the defining attribute in dorkdom is that I actually derive some enjoyment from the pledge drives.

Yup, that’s right. I don’t switch off during pledge drive season. Granted, once day seven or eight rolls around, I’m weary. But those first few days are fun.

Part of my interest is professional. I’m a fundraiser, but my work is way different from a marathon phone-based pledge drive and I have to admire the skills it takes to host one well. Plus, I think the vignettes they do to advertise their thank you gifts are funny. I mean, the Nina Tote-n-bag? Complete with dramatic kettle drum introduction? It kills me.

And then there’s the bits recorded by the big NPR personalities. Terry Gross is firm and tends to try to shame you into pledging. Robert Siegal is earnest and talks about the value of public radio. And Ira Glass? Well, Ira Glass makes me laugh so hard I worry about losing control of my vehicle.

Seriously, the man is a hoot. Last drive, he was calling people up (allegedly cold-calling real listeners) whose loved ones had turned them in as “people who listen but aren’t members.” And he would call and demand to know why they weren’t members. This time, it was a piece where he called one of NPRs equipment vendors and tried to convince him to give the station the same “deal” that listeners get – he wanted to receive all the equipment, use it as much as he wanted for as long as he wanted, pay nothing unless he felt like it (on a whim), and then, when he did pay, he wanted a coffee mug from the company as a thank you. It was hysterical.

And if none of those things secures my place as an NPR nerd, the simple fact that I’ve now devoted more than 400 words to the topic… Well… Yeah.

*NPR names are the best. Check this funny blog post about how to find your NPR name. Mine would be Kajte (pronounced Kahj-tea) Mussoorie. Or something like that. Not bad!

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