Media Tips: Radio Reporting for the Mountain West News Bureau
Henry Stone catches up with Reno and KUNR-based award-winning broadcast journalist Noah Glick. The Indiana native got his drive to be in public radio while stocking shelves. He’s now figuring out how to do his work as a Mountain West News Bureau reporter out of his home during a pandemic.
Q: Where did you grow up and what made you want to become a journalist?
“I grew up in Indiana. I grew up in a small town north of Fort Wayne, Indiana. It’s a town called Auburn. So I grew up there and afterwards I went to school at Ball State University, Indiana. That’s where David Letterman technically went to school. I studied journalism in school and then moved to California after college. I lived in the Bay Area for about six years or so and then I came to Reno and started working at KUNR. I guess I got into journalism kind of later than most people. I kind of got more into public radio journalism, and after college, it became really kind of bunched up with NPR and public radio. Really, that’s all I wanted to be, so I moved some of my focus to public radio after that. [I moved to Reno] more-or-less for family from Indiana who had just moved here. It was kinda cool to have family close after being away for so long.”
Q: How did you become a radio reporter, and why did you move to Reno, Nevada?
“I had a pretty non-traditional path to journalism. I was actually in-between jobs, living in the Bay Area, and I was working at a paint shop in Oakland that’s when I really became obsessed with NPR. I did a lot of stocking and organizing in the back so I always had NPR playing as I was working. I did a lot of deliveries too, so I always listened to the NPR stations while I was out doing deliveries. I became really into it. When I moved to Reno, to be closer to family, I didn’t really have a job lined up. I didn’t really have much going on. So I reached out to KUNR to see if I could get involved. That’s kind of how it all started. I got in there, met with some of the folks there, and they found out I had a journalism degree. I started as a volunteer, actually, and then just worked my way up to part-time status and then eventually full-time. It’s kind of a non-traditional path but I’m glad it went this way. [As a volunteer,] I did a lot of what I’m doing now. You know, helping the newsroom, staying organized. I did some digital help like updating the website, that sort of thing. For the most part, I was a news volunteer but also did a lot of on-air work as well at that time.”
I think being a public radio reporter is about not only following the news, but trying to bring people into the spaces that you’re in.
Q: What is it like being a radio reporter and broadcast journalist?
“Being a radio journalist, at least for me, is one of the most fun jobs in the world. I love this job. I’ve always been interested in radio. Even as a kid, I’ve always listened to the radio when I was falling asleep. A lot of talk radio, that sort of thing. I’ve always been someone who learns really well by hearing things. I know not everyone is like that, but I tend to remember things that were told to me. It’s easier than if I read something, for example. I’ve always kind of been drawn to the audio format, the audio medium in general, just because I like the realm that you’re in, in audio. There’s an old saying in radio that says, ‘Radio is the feeder of the mind.’ I kind of agree with that. You know, you can do other things while you’re listening to podcasts or listening to radio. I think for me, I’ve always just been drawn to audio. That’s kind of why I’m a good fit for this.
Being a radio journalist, a lot of it, before all this pandemic happened, is going out into the community, talking to people, doing interviews, collecting interesting sounds you wouldn’t even think about. These could be things like when you’re out at the vet and you might want to put your microphone next to a door, just open the door, and have a sound of a door opening. You could use that in a story. There’s been a lot of different sounds you can pull from the world. I think being a public radio reporter is about not only following the news, but trying to bring people into the spaces that you’re in. I find that to be really interesting.
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During the pandemic, I mean obviously, a lot has changed. We’re all working remotely; we’re working from home. A lot of our work has to be done remotely which makes it challenging when we’re talking about gathering sound. You want to talk to people, to interview people, and you have to do it over the phone or over Skype or Zoom or one of these web platforms. It’s a lot different now and it’s a little bit harder. I think there are some challenges there, at least in radio. Collecting sounds is a little bit harder now, without really going out into the field and getting those interesting sounds as much as we’d like. The logistics are a bit more challenging right now too, just trying to line folks up and have them do phone interviews or web interviews. It’s a little bit harder to get folks to do that. It’s a challenge. You know, we’re getting through it, and it is what it is.”
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Q: What are some of the most interesting sounds you’ve used to report?
“There’s a story I did last year about the recently-designated dark sky sanctuary in Nevada. I went up north, kind of where Burning Man is, north of that. It’s called Massacre Rim. So I went up and checked it out. Part of the story was kind of like a first-person experience, so you hear sounds of me driving out to the spot. You hear cows mooing because part of the story was you had to slow down and wait for cows to cross the street sometimes. You get some interesting cow sounds. You hear me setting up my tent for the night and zipping out to go look at the stars. There’s kind of that reaction sound of me getting a first full look at the stars. That was a fun one to do. I like that story because we were talking about a very visual story and I was drawn to that idea of how to tell a visual story using audio. I think that was an interesting, creative use of sound. …It’s amazing what sounds can really do.”
Q: What does your prep work look like, and what do you do on an average day?
“I know this is a clichéd answer, but there really is no normal day. Every day is different. I guess that’s one of the things that I really enjoy about my job. You can’t ever control the news, you don’t know what’s going to happen on any given day. You might think you’re going to have a really easy day and then you go to work and a bunch of breaking news happens and then that’s completely thrown your day for a loop. I love the unpredictable nature of it, I think it’s really interesting. I’m more of a morning person, so I typically wake up early, try to get caught up on emails, go through old tape, kind of get some stuff done before everyone else shows up in the office. I might have a couple meetings throughout the day. [Before the coronavirus epidemic], a lot of my day was spent reading, on the phone calling sources, fact-checking things, following press conferences, and kind of keeping up with what’s going on in the day. That part of the job hasn’t really changed with coronavirus. There’s still keeping up with press conferences, the latest news, monitoring Twitter, and all your various different feeds. I think the only difference with coronavirus is right now my workspace is a desk in my bedroom. So I get out of bed, I walk over to my desk in my bedroom, and when I’m done, I might walk to the living room. When I’m ready for bed, I walk back to the bedroom. My world is much smaller than it used to be but the job itself is pretty much the same. Just busier all day, it’s much busier right now.”
“I look at my job as being a conduit for the community, so I’m essentially the spokesperson for the public.”
Q: What’s some advice you’d give your past self before becoming a radio reporter?
“I’d say, ‘Believe in yourself.’ When you’re a reporter, there are lots of times when you feel like you don’t know anything because there’s so much information out there… It is the overwhelming nature of information. Just the fact that there’s such a steady stream of information being constantly thrown at you, that it’s impossible to know everything all the time. …If you’re talking with a source or you’re monitoring a press conference, let’s say a politician or source mentions a specific federal law, and you don’t know anything about that federal law, it’s easy to feel intimidated in that moment to feel like, ‘Oh, maybe I’m not qualified for this interview.’ The fact of the matter is you are. If you don’t know about something, it’s okay to ask. I feel like if I could give advice to my former self, it’d be, ‘Believe in yourself and know that you do have the information you need to ask questions’ and to challenge people on things. It’s okay to have questions, you know.
I look at my job as being a conduit for the community, so I’m essentially the spokesperson for the public, which is the way I look at it. When I interview someone, you know, it doesn’t matter to me if I look silly or not. The important thing for me is making sure that I ask the questions that the public wants to know. I think I would offer this advice to myself or to anyone who’s looking to get into this field: to just believe in yourself, be confident, and know that you can do this job.”
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Q: Do you ever stop learning new information every day?
“I’m constantly learning all the time. Especially right now, I mean, talk about coronavirus. I was never a public health reporter before this, so I pretty much had limited experience reporting on public health issues. This is the story of a lifetime for many of us so we’re all kind of learning how to become public health reporters on the fly. I think right now, the important thing for journalists to do is to lean on those experts in our field. I’m lucky enough to… have people who have experience reporting in public health. Being able to use them as resources and to help them translate… get clarification on certain things is really helpful. I think I’m learning things all the time and that part of the job is what makes this job so interesting.”
Q: What did you do and like working as a copywriter?
“As a copywriter, I worked for a variety of clients just writing marketing stuff. Website copies was a lot of what I did. You know, just helping write product descriptions on the websites. I think I learned pretty early on working as a copywriter that that wasn’t where I wanted to be. I didn’t really like the sales-y aspect of writing. I just knew I always wanted to be a writer, which is why I studied journalism. Then, I was still trying to figure out exactly what path I wanted to take with writing. I started with advertising because I thought it’d be creative and fun, and some of it is, but I think I realized pretty quickly on that it wasn’t the path I wanted to go down. It was a little too sales-y, a little too trying-to-convince-people-of-things and I am much more interested in just kind of outlying the facts for people and letting them make their decisions. I like being honest, upfront with people. Authentic. Journalism to me just seemed a natural path and public radio in particular is very conversational, very authentic, and I was always drawn to that.”
“Especially in times like this, I think people are starting to see the value of having information that’s available for free that is widely acceptable.”
Q: Where do you see yourself going or staying in the future?
“I’m welcome to stay in public radio. I am a public radio guy through-and-through, I love audio, and I think that the mission of public radio is really admirable. Especially in times like this, I think people are starting to see the value of having information that’s available for free that is widely acceptable. It’s online, over the air. Public radio serves a lot of audiences that can’t be served by the internet, for example. With a lot of newspapers going under, a lot of people are going to the internet. But there’s a lot of places, even in our region, that don’t have good internet access or don’t really have a local paper, so public radio is their source of information. I’m a big believer in public radio’s mission and I think that’s just where I want to be for my career.”