Celeste Headlee, the co-host of WNYC & PRI's The Takeaway, spoke on the broadcast panel at the Student Communications Career Conference on Nov. 6.
Celeste has more than a decade of on- and off-air experience in both local and national public radio productions. Before joining The Takeaway, she was the Midwest correspondent for NPR's Day to Day, covering everything from the auto industry to art, the 2008 presidential election to toilet smuggling.
Beats the Rooster "I wake at 3am, have a 30-minute commute from New Jersey to Manhattan and prep for the show until we go on the air at 6am. Four hours later, I get off the air, go home and start prepping for the next day's show."
One Lucky Break "I was in a public radio station one day, and the music director offered me a job as a classical music host. I had never trained to work in radio or pursued broadcasting as a career, but I needed a job, and it sounded interesting. That led to cultural reporting, which led to hosting news programs, and it went on from there."
Committed "I feel I'm performing an important public service. I could live happily at a university for the rest of my life, so having a job that allows me to be a perpetual student is perfect."
S-A-T-I-S-F-A-C-T-I-O-N "The best stories are the ones that surprise you — the ones that you approach as an assignment only and learn to care about. Among those were stories about the purple Lilliput mussels in Michigan, collecting ballots in the Grand Canyon on election day and extreme unemployment in small-town Ohio."
Advice: Mum's the Word "Listen. Don't be afraid of silence. Our job is to inform, not impress."
A Child's View "When my son, Grant, came to the Big Apple for the first time, at age 11, he said he really liked it, but wanted to know if it was always so loud, and if the cars always blocked the crosswalks. We had just moved from Detroit to the tri-state area. About the same time, a very nice woman greeted us with a thick Jersey accent at a school office in Montclair: Grant whispered to me, 'Why is she talking like that?'"
Scene-Stealer "It's the place near the lake in Central Park, where the turtles sun themselves on a dead log. So many of them are there, that they encrust the wood, their heads resting on each other's shoulders."
Off-Air "I'm cooking, making everything from scratch; riding my bike; reading; and playing World of Warcraft with my husband and son."
To De-Stress "I often read P.G. Wodehouse."
No Regrets "I don't think I would live any days over, even the days on which I made stupid, bone-headed mistakes, and there are many, because all of them, somehow, changed my course. I'd be afraid to risk messing everything up."
As told to Michelle Lodge