Faces Of NPR: Sarah Gilbert, Carline Watson, Sarah Oliver, and Kenya Young

Mar 29, 2017
Originally published on March 31, 2017 9:19 am

Faces Of NPR is a weekly feature that showcases the people behind NPR, from the voices you hear every day on the radio to the ones who work outside of the recording studio. You'll find out about what they do and what they're inspired by on the daily. This week, in honor of Women's History Month, we're featuring the executive producers of Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, and All Things Considered, Weekend.

The Basics:

Name: Sarah Gilbert

Twitter Handle: @sarahcgilbert

Job Title: Executive Producer, Morning Edition

Where You're From: Newcastle, England's northernmost city

An Inside Look:

You're the Executive Producer of Morning Edition. What does that mean?

Existing in a constant state of either too much, or not enough coffee.

How did you get started here? Or what advice do you have for someone who wants a job like yours?

Bridget Kelley hired me at Weekend Edition. I'd recently left the BBC and was missing working at a place where journalism comes first. I remember feeling at home from the moment I walked through the door on my first day. I also remember not knowing who Scott Simon was when he introduced himself. Imagine!

What's your favorite #nprlife moment?

Discovering that there was a Kale Club. Seems so passé now...

What are some of the coolest things you've worked on?

So many fun things: Developing For the Record with Rachel Martin and Sarah Oliver. It was hard work, frequently a bit terrifying, but really satisfying when we knew we'd got something. And of course the Bill Cosby interview with Scott: not "cool," per se, but definitely an experience. And Morning Edition's election road trips were fun and exhausting to work on with David Greene and Steve Inskeep, Miranda Kennedy, and all of the team. All of the best things should scare the living daylights out of you.

An executive producer is a stressful role. How do you handle breaking news situations?

Take a deep breath, and walk off the end of the plank. Feel proud to be part of an amazing team of journalists who relish the challenge. Don't forget to go to the restroom.

What's on your desk?

Three lip balms, four different lists of things to do, and a peanut butter cup I've been saving for two hours now.

Favorite places in the city?

Sunrise at Congressional Cemetery, plodding around in the quiet with Spot the dog. (I can't sleep past 4:30 a.m. anymore, so it's not as brutal as it sounds.)

What are your guilty pleasures?

Snails and a glass of wine at Montmartre on a school night — done and dusted before anyone else gets to the restaurant.

An hour or two alone to read on a Saturday afternoon, hopefully interrupted by a nap.

What is a question you wish you could be asked? Also, give us your answer.

"Isn't it about time you stopped handling Morning Edition's host calendar?" "I thought you'd never ask..." (Apologies to Cara Tallo and now Sarah Robbins, who wrestle the 3D riddle a.k.a. the Morning Edition staff schedule to the ground every day. This is an unforgivable whinge, I know.)

What are you inspired by right now?

Humor and grace, wherever they break out.

What do you love about public radio?

The mission — it never wavers or changes. It's why we all get up in the morning.

The Basics:

Name: Carline Watson

Twitter Handle: @WatsonCarline

Job Title: Executive Producer, All Things Considered

Where You're From: Born in London, England, raised in Montego Bay, Jamaica

An Inside Look:

You're the Executive Producer of All Things Considered. What does that mean?

I'm juggling many, many things daily. There are never enough hours in the day. I'm responsible for staffing, thinking about coverage, working with other shows, across desks, with other NPR divisions and with member stations, and there is always a meeting somewhere.

How did you get started here? Or what advice do you have for someone who wants a job like yours?

I joined as an Editorial Assistant working on Weekend Edition and moved to production after a year. It's less about wanting a job like mine and more about being open to possibilities and opportunities.

What's your favorite #nprlife moment?

Talking with the actor Hill Harper about his character on the T.V. show Covert Affairs as if he were my BFF.

An executive producer is a stressful role. How do you handle breaking news situations?

Breathe and find the person(s) who can tell me what I don't know and help me put it in context for our audience.

What's on your desk?

Mardi Gras beads and coins from New Orleans, a color drop box with four colors, a pocket guide "100 Ideas to Make Your Journalism Better" from the Poynter Institute.

Favorite podcast?

Hidden Brain; Death, Sex and Money; Code Switch; and Embedded.

Favorite places in the city?

Rock Creek Park: great for bicycling and walking. Georgia Ave because it is truly DC's main street.

First thing you do when you get to the office?

Work out at the fitness center. I'm an early riser. I've already read a couple of news sites and checked email at home.

What are your guilty pleasures?

TV: crime procedurals, HGTV, Food Network.

And shoes...way too many shoes!

What are you inspired by right now?

I am finding refuge in music and have been listening to a lot of classic jazz (Shirley Horn, Sarah Vaughn, Louis Armstrong), and also the soundtrack to Hamilton. I'm also reading Zadie Smith's book Swing Time, and I always have the most recent copies of Essence, Vanity Fair, O Magazine, Yoga Journal, and The New Yorker by my bed.

What do you love about public radio?

The variety, the intellectual stimulation, and the very smart and dedicated people who make up public radio, many of whom are now my friends.

The Basics:

Name: Sarah Oliver

Twitter Handle: @nprsaraholiver

Job Title: Executive Producer, Weekend Edition

Where You're From: Washington, DC (by way of Toronto)

An Inside Look:

You're the Executive Producer of Weekend Edition. What does that mean?

Every week I do my best to program both shows with the insightful interviews, beautifully produced features, and FUN that our staff has dreamed up.

How did you get started here? Or what advice do you have for someone who wants a job like yours?

I was an intern. In 1989. Crazy, huh? I've pretty much been at NPR ever since. In order to do a job like mine you have to understand all the parts. And there's no substitute for the judgment that one develops over years of working with amazing journalists. It's definitely worth paying your dues.

What's your favorite #nprlife moment?

That time I walked into Daniel Schorr's office (he was our senior news analyst and a crusty newsman) and he had his feet up on his desk, reading People Magazine and watching the OJ trial.

What are some of the coolest things you've worked on?

Bringing on Lulu Garcia-Navarro as the new host of Weekend Edition Sunday and witnessing how she is making the show her Weekend Edition.

An executive producer is a stressful role. How do you handle breaking news situations?

By remembering that we know how to do this, and do it WELL.

Favorite podcast?

NPR Politics, natch!

Favorite places in the city?

Rock Creek Park.

First thing you do when you get to the office?

This is boring but I read the emails that have come in since I left home.

What is a question you wish you could be asked? Also, give us your answer.

I wish someone would ask me, "What's the best thing about working on the weekends?" And I'd say, "NO LINES AT THE GROCERY STORE! Plus you can wear sweats to the office."

What do you love about public radio?

This is not what I love BEST about public radio, but isn't it cool when you walk into a party and people come up to you and say, "You work for NPR? I LOVE NPR!" We matter, and that makes me proud.

The Basics:

Name: Kenya Young

Twitter Handle: @nprkyoung

Job Title: Executive Producer, All Things Considered, Weekend

Where You're From: Los Angeles, California

An Inside Look:

You're the Executive Producer of All Things Considered, Weekend. What does that mean?

In the simplest terms, I program and run the Saturday and Sunday airings of All Things Considered.

How did you get started here? Or what advice do you have for someone who wants a job like yours?

I interned in 2007 at NPR West on News & Notes. I was a very non-traditional intern — 32, married with two kids, but wanted to get back into journalism after a nearly 20 year corporate track in film publicity, financial services, and wellness centers management.

What's your favorite #nprlife moment?

There have been many. I've worked on almost every show in the newsroom including four that don't even exist anymore — every show has at least one memorable highlight. Perhaps one I will always remember is the WATC (Weekend All Things Considered) field reporting trip with Guy Raz when we test drove one of the first Tesla Roadsters on the hilly streets of Palo Alto.

What are some of the coolest things you've worked on?

Obama Presidential Interview with Steve Inskeep, broadcasting WATC from SXSW, post-Election Day 2008 in the streets of LA with Alex Chadwick.

An executive producer is a stressful role. How do you handle breaking news situations?

You really have to stay calm and organized or else it can become total mayhem and that shows up on the air. Yes, it's breaking news, but you still try to find the stories, still try to find the narrative, and always try to keep the human side of things at the forefront. The bookings make all the difference.

Favorite podcast?

Denzel Washington Is The Greatest Actor Of All Time Period.

Favorite places in the city?

Rock Creek Park, Union Market, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the monuments at night.

What are your guilty pleasures?

Scandal, those sugar wafers in the vending area. Candy Crush.

First thing you do when you get to the office?

Get an omelet and coffee from Sound Bites.

What do you love about public radio?

We give a voice to people who aren't used to being allowed or asked to use theirs.

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