Jonathan Menjivar

Jonathan Menjivar is a producer at This American Life.

"When I started in radio I imagined myself on the radio more. But I've come to a place where it doesn't matter to me. I just want to make stuff."

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Emily Botein

Emily Botein is the Vice President for On-Demand Content of WNYC.

"I feel like as a producer, the whole goal is to have someone become more human, reveal something more personal, say something surprising. So it's your job to make an unrealistically good situation — everything has to be perfect for the host, you want the host to be super comfortable, whatever the host likes. And stupid things, from like what they want to drink, to how they want the mic positioned, to where they want to sit, to anything. It's like you want to make a heightened version of life because you're trying to create a moment. You're not just trying to go gather a story. Something is supposed to happen on the tape. So you need to do everything possible to think about what can happen, and how can you try to trigger it."

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Tim Howard

Tim Howard, a former producer for Radiolab, is the Senior Producer of Reply All.

"You can do radio stories without stakes, they just have to be really fun."

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Jacob Goldstein

Jacob Goldstein is a reporter for NPR's Planet Money.

"I've never been that interested in the classic investigative story — here's this victim and here's this villain, and implicitly, I, the reporter, am the hero. ... They were never the kind of stories I wanted to read, they were never the kind of stories I wanted to write. I like profiles of weirdos and stories about systems."

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Audie Cornish

Audie Cornish is the host of All Things Considered.*

"I ran a gauntlet of people who underestimated me. Every subject is like, 'Are you the intern?' Every lawmaker is like, 'I don't understand who you are?' People don't see me so when they finally meet me they're not sure what to think. And I think the only way you can get through this job, or any other job where people will underestimate you on arrival, is to just not on board it. Like I can't collect it. And so, maybe it means I've been successful because I can't remember any [moments of microaggressions]."

(*This episode is guest hosted by Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton of BuzzFeed's Another Round.)

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Sean Rameswaram

Sean Rameswaram is the host of sideshow.

"On the outside, which I was on the outside for a long time, I thought public radio takes itself too seriously. My favorite moments in public radio are when Scott Simon interviews Ke$ha. We don't need to be highbrow all the time and it's actually endangering our medium."

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Kaitlin Prest

Kaitlin Prest is the host and creative director of The Heart.

"My whole thing about making stuff is I want it to feel like the thing. If you're making a show about love, I want to feel like I'm falling in love when I listen to the show."

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Anshuman Iddamsetty

Anshuman Iddamsetty is Hazlitt’s art director and audio/visual producer.*

"I stare at waveforms constantly. So like I'm staring at the layout of the waveforms more than anything. There is a sort of visual component to how the show finally comes together, right? I can tell how many — again I understand how out to lunch I sound now — but, if i’m being honest, I can kind of tell, “No, this sounds right because I can see the ratio of the a person’s cut up voice to the music to the sound effects to my voice, and the sort of compression of the guest coming in at certain points, or like how quickly a guest’s voice turns the corner."

(*This episode is guest hosted by Ethan Chiel.)

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David Weinberg

David Weinberg, a former Marketplace producer, is part of KCRW's Independent Producer Project and the creator of Random Tape.

"I felt so trapped before I found and decided that radio is what I wanted to do. I placed a lot on this as being the thing that was going to save me. And so there was this huge amount of fear that like if I don't do it well then I have nothing. ... And so recording my life all the time was a way to be like, 'Oh, I'm not a bum bumming around with no plan. I have a plan. I'm working on it.' And the longer you do that, the longer you put off actually making something for the first time, the harder it gets. And I was just stuck in that period for many years. ... When I look back at it now, I'm like, 'You idiot. Why were you wasting all this time when you could've been getting better at making stories?' But I was so afraid to do things out in the open."

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Nate DiMeo

Nate DiMeo is the host of The Memory Palace.

"I struggled a lot when I first got into journalism because I knew every Q&A I edited ... something would get cut. And that the person interviewed would not be entirely represented the way they wanted to be. ... So the best way to honor that person and to get at the heart of it was by writing really well. If their literal voice didn't carry and didn't get enough airtime the spirit of what they were saying was effectively and pointedly articulated by me as a writer."

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Scott Carrier

Scott Carrier is an independent producer and the host of Home of the Brave.

"It's what makes us human, is our storytelling ability. Animals can't do that. They can communicate. They can talk to each other. They understand, they know what's going on, and they can play. They have rules. They can make the rules, and change the rules, and break the rules, but it's always present tense for animals. But we can talk about the past, we can talk about the future, and that's what makes us so different, besides just our shape."

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Dana Chivvis

Dana Chivvis is a producer at Serial.

"I thought it was important to be really devoted to your medium. ... I thought I have to love video. And what I realized is that it didn't matter to me what medium I was working in. It mattered what story I was telling, and how I was telling it, and who I was telling it with."

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Lulu Miller

Lulu Miller, a former producer at Radiolab, is the co-host of NPR's Invisibilia.

"I think there's this thing that goes hand in hand with journalism, or with radio, which is that professionally, you're an amateur, so you have to ask, and with not knowing, there's always discovery."

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Alix Spiegel

Alix Spiegel, a former producer at This American Life, is the co-host of NPR's Invisibilia.

"I always want to understand like why? What do you know that I don't know? What is your life? And how do you see the world? And that's it."

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Andrea Silenzi

Andrea Silenzi is the creator and host of Why Oh Why?. She's also the Senior Producer of Slate's The Gist.*

"I listen to a lot of radio and there's so much of 'This person wrote a book.' 'This person has a project.' 'This person has been working on this for years.' And I just think that I much prefer conversations where people have a personal connection that's at stake. ... Like I always get the pitch of I want to do speed dating and it's like no one I've ever known has actually sincerely ever done speed dating. So If I were to do a show about speed dating it would be the most inauthentic thing possible."

(*This episode is guest hosted by Avery Trufelman.)

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Hillary Frank

Hillary Frank is the host and creator of The Longest Shortest Time.

"I hate small talk, and it makes me very uncomfortable. I don't know how to do it well. I want to have a real conversation with a person."

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Lynn Levy

Lynn Levy is a producer at Radiolab.

"Sometimes if you're interviewing an author they've already worked out the best way to tell the story. They've been through all the options in their head, they figured out what to omit and what to get rid of. And often times, even though they're not reading from the book, they'll literally be saying the words that they wrote down. Like you'll hear phrases from the book in what they're telling you. ... And it can be really seductive when you're interviewing these people because they're giving it to you. You're just like, well this is going to be very easy to edit. Thank you. The thing is when you actually do go to edit it it doesn't have anything. It doesn't have any tension, it doesn't have any pathos, it doesn't have any like... um... It doesn't have any um! It doesn't have any moments where you can hear somebody working things through. And I think one of the things that radio producers kind of know is that it's a better story if something happens. You want to go out in the field and something is going to happen and you are going to record it and that's going to make a better story. But that's even true about interviews. You want something to happen in the person who's talking while you're talking to them. You want them to figure something out or work something through or confront something, if possible. ... They think they know how the story goes and you have to convince them otherwise."

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Pejk Malinovski

Pejk Malinovski is a poet and a radio producer.

"I feel like when I make structure it's not a traditional Hollywood storyline where there's a beginning and a middle and an end and a conflict and resolution I think it's more about tension and release. I think it's more about composing musically basically.."

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Michael May

Michael May, a Third Coast Gold Award winner, is a freelance radio and print journalist. He teaches radio documentary at the Salt Institute.

"I'm not interested in doing stories where I just label somebody some clinical label — a misogynist, sociopath. It's so easy to dismiss people, it's much more difficult to understand them."

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Stephanie Foo

Stephanie Foo, a former producer at Snap Judgment, is a producer at This American Life.

"I think everybody has a story that is worth telling, but I think most people don't know what their best story is. At all. They'll think that it's their most life or death moment or that it's the moment that they feel changed them the most, but sometimes it's the most surprising little moments that really touch people. And I don't even know necessarily what those moments are in my life."

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PJ Vogt & Alex Goldman

PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman are the creators of TLDR.

"The internet can feel like the same thing over and over again, and sometimes that's because the internet is the same thing over and over again. But sometimes it's because you've hemmed yourself to a boring internet by just paying attention to people who are much the same as you. So to the extent that we can get out of that, it gives our show more longevity."

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Tamara Keith

Tamara Keith is NPR's White House Correspondent.

"There's drama in the human experience, and if people are willing to share that, there's a way to make it into a good story... says the person who only does stories about the White House and Congress."

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Ann Heppermann

Ann Heppermann, a Peabody Award winner, produces Slate's Culture Gabfest. She teaches radio writing and radio drama at Sarah Lawrence College.

"I don't think you want all crappy tape, but there's something about texture of crappy tape and Skype tape. If you think about sound as a palette, I kind of like phone tape and I like how it adds an element of grit to it."

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Jeff Emtman

Jeff Emtman is the creator and host of Here Be Monsters.

"You can think of your memory as a box full of photographs, like the ones your parents have in your basement. Just like old glossy prints. ... And unfortunately, when you pick up an old photo print, what happens is you always leave a thumbprint on it, and overtime your memories become more and more thumb-printed. So if you pull up a memory enough times, you’ll just be looking at your own unique thumbprint."

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Zoe Chace

Zoe Chace is a reporter for NPR's Planet Money.

"A lot of times people don't pay enough attention to their voicing at all. They don't realize that their story doesn't exist, unless people are grabbed by their voice. The story literally — like practically literally — is not happening. People are just missing it, so I always thought voicing is key, it's central. You have to grab people. And I had a real approach where I was almost trying to scream out of the radio, 'Listen now!' And, 'Listen now!' And, 'Listen now!'"

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Ellen Horne

Ellen Horne is the Executive Producer of Radiolab.

"When you’re trying to create something new, that kind of risk-taking has to happen in a low-stakes environment."

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Eric Mennel

Eric Mennel is a producer for WUNC and Criminal.

"People pooh-pooh the idea of logging like it’s the worst thing in the world. Some of the best techniques I’ve learned, in terms of interviewing, was from logging good interviewer's tape. ... Listening to Alex Kotlowitz conduct an interview was like it’s own class on how to make radio."

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Sean Cole

Sean Cole, a producer at This American Life, he has also reported for Radiolab, Marketplace, and 99% Invisible.

"Journalism is a translation of madness and poetry is a transcription of madness."

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Stan Alcorn

Stan Alcorn, a freelance multimedia journalist, is a contributor to WNYC and NPR.

"I love stories but I’m very interested in how they pertain to some larger truth that you’re not going to know without quantifying it."

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Jennifer Brandel

Jennifer Brandel is the Senior Producer of WBEZ's Curious City.

"I don’t think that soft or fluffy news should be given such a bad rap. When you have a question that ignites someone’s curiosity and gets them interested in thinking about the world in a different way or considering things they haven’t done before, that is important. If you can accomplish that in your stories, they’re not fluffy — they’re interesting."

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Ben Calhoun

Ben Calhoun is a producer at This American Life.

"The nature of covering politics is one where often people don’t want to say to you the things that they are feeling or thinking. … You can create the diorama of that action in a way that you couldn’t if you weren’t willing to make them a character — founded on things they’ve said and beliefs you know they have — than they’ve done for you on tape."

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