Saturday, October 4, 2014

My 15 Minutes of Fame on NPR Science Friday

public radio studio
Me in the studio at WFYI with my little cups of water and volume control
Science Friday: Catching a Glimpse of an Eclipse

On Wednesday I got an email from a producer for the public radio show Science Friday. She was looking for tips and apps for astrophotography, and we set up a phone call for later that evening. She asked me questions about astrophotography with iPhone apps, interesting tricks and solutions to limitations, and some general beginner level astrophotography questions. After about 30 minutes she asked if I would be interested in being interviewed on the show Science Friday. She said she would check with the other producers and get back to me on whether or not they had a spot for this kind of segment on Friday's show.

The next day, I heard that they wanted to include me as part of a larger segment. They booked studio space at WFYI, Indy's local public radio and TV station, so that the interview would sound like I was right there in the room with the host rather than over the phone.

I couldn't concentrate at work the whole next day. I was excited and nervous, and I spent time brushing up on all kinds of astrophotography facts just in case I would be put on the spot. I kept reminding myself that they asked to interview me, and that if I didn't know something it's not my fault. It's not like a job interview, it's just a conversation - I kept trying to remind myself.

I got to the station super early because I didn't want to be stressed trying to find parking at the last minute.

I met up with the audio engineer who said he had already been in touch with NPR earlier that day when they did a test to make sure the connections were all working correctly. He showed me the studio and the little waiting area lounge space. I felt like a special guest! I couldn't believe I was going to be on NPR, on the same show as NASA scientists, broadcasting live without the chance to edit.

I finally went into the studio and did a sound check. They had the microphone pretty close to my face, but I had to sort of tilt my head to the side to make sure I didn't pop my P's in the microphone. I had to say "Peter Piper picked a peck" a few times to make sure.

Next I sat in silence waiting for the show to start. Without warning, I heard the host Ira, introduce the segment with the other guest Dean Regas from the Cincinnati Observatory. I listened in and waited to be addressed.

The time during the actual interview flew by. I kept worrying I was talking like a robot, and I froze a couple times and got freaked out. But in general, I at least had something to say for each prompt and was able to contribute some actual information to the discussion. Who knows, maybe I inspired someone to try to photograph the upcoming eclipse with modest DIY equipment.  When I heard the playback I was really pleased that I sound normal and not super nervous.

public radio studio
The first thing I noticed was the giant Big Bird overlooking the guest parking lot

public radio studio
I followed the Big Bird footprints to the front door

public radio studio
Front entrance of the WFYI public radio station

public radio studio
Sound studio at the station

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