This is the eighth part of a series of posts from Stefan Norgaard, Stanford University Urban Studies major completing his Internship Capstone sequence interning for NPR’s Forum program at KQED, the San Francisco station.
(Above: The KQED Office in San Francisco)
It’s week 9 of my 10 week internship here at National Public Radio (NPR-KQED), and the realization hit me about just how fleeting and ephemeral my experience has been. I have loved every day of my weekly work at NPR, but there are only 10 weeks in a Stanford quarter, and the time has gone by all too quickly. Hosting scholars, activists, and celebrities, I get to meet people like former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos and entertainment star John Leguizamo. This last week, Paul Farmer (author of Mountains Beyond Mountains) came on KQED to discuss his new book, and I felt privileged and honored to work for a radio station that hosts such incredible guests. This prompted me to take this time to give everyone a sense of the “culture” of KQED and introduce you to the people who make Forum possible.
KQED is located on Bryant and Mariposa Streets, in an area known as “SoMissPo” because it is at the intersection of SoMa, Protreo Hill, and the Mission District, in the heart of San Francisco. The first floor of the building is security and also has a large parking garage. The second floor is where the magic happens: public radio and public television are broadcast from these halls. The third floor is dedicated to fundraising, administration, and internal operations, a side of KQED and public radio that I have not seen much of, but which constitutes a large and important portion of daily operations at the studio. On the second floor, the public radio offices are all open, so staff members can converse and work together. The Forum offices border “The California Report” Offices, and shows like “Pacific Time” have nearby office spaces. In the morning, I walk past KQED’s Joshua Johnson, who reads news headlines, and I hear him practice the very lines that he will recite just minutes later. The studios themselves—as there are many—are located in sound-proof rooms bordering the open offices. I bring the show guests to the “Green Room” – where I have them sign the wall and have them wait until show time – which also borders the offices. The open office environment allows for jokes, news-events, and conversation to occur throughout all branches of KQED, and fosters a great workplace culture.
At Forum, I work under the senior producer, Dave, and other producers named Iris and Sasha. The producers work behind the scenes, but they really are the lifeblood of Forum. For example, Dave books guests and decides show topics, and is the final responsible party when it comes to show decisions. The producer always decides which calls are taken and which emails are read on the air. The hosts rotate for me, because Michael Krasny does not work on Fridays. Sometimes Rick or Paulie or Mark host, and all of the KQED hosts I have met have a similar quality: they possess such a wide breadth of extensive knowledge that they can ask good, engaging questions and converse at a high level with our guests about most any topic. This requires hosts to be renaissance-men and renaissance-women, and they are highly respected by our show guests. Finally, there are staff members like Allie and others who do sound engineering work, social media and web components, or other logistical aspects to make the show run smoothly. Most of the people working in this position are younger than the hosts, and most that I have met carry a positive energy and excitement that embodies KQED.
Overall, I am so saddened to be leaving KQED in a short 2 Fridays (after I feel I have just arrived!) in large part because I will be leaving this amazing community. The KQED Forum staff took me in from Day 1, and I have loved getting to know everyone in the office more closely. Their support and wisdom has been invaluable for me, and it has been what has made my internship so special!
(NOTE: Names have been changed for anonymity)
(Above: KQED Host Michael Krasny does not work on Fridays).