Even though our Blog took a summer vacation, we sure didn't. For the past few months the Launch team has been recording sample tapes with our 10 host candidates and then hunkering down to do the seemingly impossible: picking just three of our extraordinary finalists to produce pilots with.
The process began in the beginning of July when we brought our hosts into the studio and out into the field. Some had never seen a recording studio before, much less manned a mic; some were so relaxed they kicked off their shoes, put up their feet, and immediately began playing host. Some tested their reporting skills, interviewing people from hot dog vendors in Chicago to law students in Washington, D.C. to a classroom full of moms and their kids. By early August, we had produced a ten-minute compilation tape which showcased each of our hosts' personalities, interests, and storytelling talents. We then turned to our station advisors for objective help. After considering their impressions, the Launch team met in New York in August for final deliberations. It was grueling work -- we wanted to work with everyone! We dissected each hosts' strengths and challenges, thought about which person and topic would broaden the public radio audience, and finally, discussed whose voice and perspective was completely fresh.
After 48 hours of closed-door talks, we finally had a decision -- and we were able to turn our attention to our next task: unveiling our dynamic hosts at the annual PRPD conference in Minneapolis (www.prpd.org). We've also been spending a lot of time thinking about what shape our three pilots will take. What should the tone of the show be? What can we play with? What are the themes we want to explore? We'll be asking these questions again and again in the coming months and using our answers to guide us as we develop what we hope are three funny, moving, inspiring and completely different public radio programs.