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Behind the Mic

Robin Rilette
Robin Rilette
April, 2014

You’ve only just started at MPBN, but what are a few surprising things you’ve learned so far about both Maine and MPBN?

I’m very impressed with the dedication of my new colleagues at MPBN and the many hours they put in each week. I’m sure that they sleep, but am just not certain when!

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Jonathan Smith
Jonathan Smith
January, 2014

Jonathan, how did you get your start in radio?

A friend of a friend ran a small radio production company in Washington, DC. Their biggest client was the “Old Farmer’s Almanac.” While working there, I also was lucky to land a position as a volunteer with The Diane Rehm Show. She eventually hired me, and I spent almost a decade working with her. I came to MPBN to use this experience producing radio programs to help create a call-in talk show for the people of Maine.

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Rich Tozier
Rich Tozier
November, 2013

When did you first discover jazz and your love of music?

I think I’ve liked jazz since I was a kid and saw Pete Kelly’s Blues when I was about 10, back in ‘55. The score was mostly what we might nowadays call Dixieland. Of course, back then, I didn’t consider myself a “jazz buff,” but the music affected me emotionally, and has ever since.

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Patty Wight
Patty B. Wight
October, 2013

Patty, thanks for taking a few moments with us! What sparked your interest in radio?

I graduated from college with a degree in Wildlife Biology, which I loved to study, but realized in the end that it wasn’t quite right for me. I always was a listener of public radio and was intrigued by the idea of doing reporting. It sounded like a fun and challenging career. I got my ears wet at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies and was hooked immediately.

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Jennifer Mitchell
Jennifer Mitchell
September, 2013

What triggered your interest in radio?

I really don’t know. I guess the signs were there. I was that irritating student who always volunteered to read aloud to the rest of the class. I also tried my hand at “hard-hitting” journalism in fourth grade by writing an article for the paper about how the town water tower really needed to have a lid because pigeons were roosting on the side, face out. Also, my parents listened exclusively to public radio...

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Keith Shortall
Keith Shortall
August, 2013

How did you get into broadcasting?

I never had a desire or plan to get into broadcasting. In fact, one of my housemates at Bowdoin was the program director of the college station, WBOR, who was always after me to give it a try. After graduation and a slow start as an illustrator in Boston, I found myself back at home in Maine, unemployed, when I got a call from another Bowdoin friend. He was headed to Portland for an interview at a radio station, so I went along for the ride and stayed at his apartment on the couch for a few weeks. One day the phone rang, and it was the program director from my friend’s station, WJBQ. He explained that one of the DJs had just quit and asked if there was anyone in the house that could do an air shift from midnight to 6:00 a.m. I told him that I had never done radio before, but he said that was okay, and to just be at the station by 11:30, and someone would show me how to run the music. I’ve been in radio ever since.

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Sara Willis
Sara Willis
July 2013

How did your radio career begin?

Oddly enough, it began when I was about ten years old. My parents bought me a little reel-to-reel tape machine for Christmas. It’s funny, my mother doesn’t even remember the gift or why they bought it for me, but it was the start of my life on the microphone!

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Susan Sharon
Susan Sharon
May 2013

Was there some point in time when you set your sights on a career in journalism? Was there some triggering event or experience?

I always loved to write, and I knew from a young age that I would be a writer of some kind. We didn’t have a student newspaper in high school so I took public speaking instead. My teacher encouraged me to consider broadcast journalism as a college major. At about the same time, a couple of my friends and I were asked to discuss teenagers’ attitudes about sex on a radio talk show. It was a lively discussion, and I realized how much I wanted to be figuring out the questions instead of the answers. Once I got to college, I was forever hooked.

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Jennifer Rooks
Jen Rooks
April 2013

When did you get the bug to become a reporter and journalist?

I don’t remember one particular "aha" moment, I always just assumed I would at least try to make it as a television journalist. Watching the evening news and reading the daily newspapers were an important part of my family life.My parents were very engaged in what was going on, and that interest was fostered in me at an early age. Actually, when I was a teenager,my plan was to become a foreign correspondent. Covering stories around the globe seemed so exciting and glamorous.

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Tom Porter
March 2013

Let’s start at the beginning of your career... Broadcasting was Plan A, Plan B, or something else?

Plan A-and-a-half, if that’s allowed. My original goal was to get into the journalism, which I did when I got taken on by the Bloomberg News wire service. The move to broadcast occurred after a few months there when the TV stations at Bloomberg were expanding, and I saw a good opportunity to get into something fun.

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