By Chion Wolf
When someone corrects you by saying “Actually…”, how does that make you feel?
Embarrassed that you were wrong or a little off about what you thought you knew?
That’s totally normal. I am not totally normal.
When I’m about to get corrected, my heart races!
Just the high-to-low melody of “aaaactually…” gives me dopamine hits.
As someone who almost didn’t graduate from high school, and, before dropping out of college, majored in changing majors, I always had this running code in me that I wasn’t really that smart.
But don’t feel bad for me. My mother taught me all about that dopamine hit because she had it too!
Whether telling me all about the Latin origin of a word that I didn’t understand, or correcting my choice of using the word, “less” to “fewer”, if I ever wanted to cheer my mother up, I’d just ask her a question.
So, when I saw a tweet recently from Asma Khalid, I got that big-feeling dopamine hit. But this time, for once, I felt a little embarrassed.
Asma is the White House Correspondent at NPR, and the co-host of the NPR Politics podcast.
She wrote, “My first job in radio was as a producer. I know how much we producers did to get a piece on air, and to this day every time I hear a host say ‘my producer’ I cringe. ‘Our producer’ seemed better, but ‘producer colleagues’ seems even better.”
Then, I read a reply from Annie Brown, senior producer at Pineapple Media, who said,
“I’m working with a new host on a podcast series, and in emails to sources or outside experts he describes members of the team as his ‘producer colleagues’ rather than his producers. a small thing, and a low bar to clear but shocking how unusual that small gesture of respect is.”
Fifteen years in radio AS A PRODUCER, three years now as a host, and I’d never thought of this.
When I read those tweets, I realized that when I would talk about “my producers”, I had been calling them just that: “My producers.”
And yeah, now that I think about it, that does feel sorta’ possessive.
And yeah, that kinda’ makes me feel elevated when I don’t wanna’ feel elevated. We all contribute to this show, full stop.
The delayed dopamine hit makes contact: LANGUAGE MATTERS. I CAN DO BETTER.
So you know, the role of the public radio producers whom I work with is to collaborate with me to:
-come up with show ideas
-research, research, research
-find the best guests
-contact and schedule those guests
-come up with questions, web page titles, songs
There’s a variation on that theme for every show, but it is a lifetime truism: “Once a producer, always a producer.”
Whether you’re in line at the store, doing laundry, or scrolling Reddit, you are always pondering what the next episode idea is.
Jessica Severin de Martinez and Khaleel Rahman are Audacious producers.
Jessica is an auditor who grew up in Germany. She is meticulous, relentless, reliable, and a fact-checker supreme. She’s an outstanding poet, too! She’s drawn to difficult-to-book episodes: Female truck drivers who would let me ride along with them, people with hoarding disorder who would invite me to their house, a man on death row who fell in love and got married after his conviction… And a conversation with his wife. Jessica has a very smart and very tall husband, and two brilliant, shining, huge-hearted kids.
Khaleel was an intern at CT Public Radio, and his humor and writing prowess shine as a headline writer for The Onion and Reductress. In his first few weeks on the job, he shared a Google doc with half a year’s show ideas. The kinds of episodes he’s drawn to making involve people who have been othered: Comedians who have disabilities. People who claim to have been abducted by aliens. Uyghur refugees who have experienced some of the cruelest forms of torture. Even still, he is utterly drawn to humor. The guests on his podcast, The Tight Five, are all from the comedy world.
They are partners, teammates, collaborators.
They are big thinkers, ponderers, wonderers.
The only “my” I’d like to apply to them is that they are my friends.
And if you listen to the show we make together, then you’re a friend of mine too.