Photo: JAY DAVIES
Photo: JAY DAVIES

When you tune in to your morning news show on the radio, have you ever thought about what goes on behind the scenes? Mythili Rao, associate producer at WNYC’s daily radio news program, “The Takeaway,” tells IndyKids a bit about her job.

What does a typical day as a radio producer look like?

It can vary a lot! The show I work on is a daily morning program, so most days begin early. I help make sure everything runs smoothly while the show is live. I check in with guests before they are interviewed on air, collaborate on writing scripts and transitions, and check facts and share background to help prepare the host of the show.
After the show ends, my coworkers and I take a deep breath and then start planning for the next day. In our daily editorial meeting, we discuss the big news stories of the day and brainstorm meaningful ways to cover them. Once we have outlined a broad plan, we each focus on a few specific stories for the next day.

How do you decide what goes into a radio news program?

We argue about it, nicely. Everyone on the staff has different ideas—and everyone is encouraged to voice their opinion. More often than not, after we debate stories and angles we reach a clear consensus. We want the program to be informative, lively and original. We look for ways to tell stories that aren’t being told or to deepen the discussion on big stories.

What is the most fun part of your job?

The most fun part of my job is getting to talk to many different kinds of people. I like assignments that take me out into the field—whether it’s a book fair or a political rally. But even on the days when I never leave my desk, I enjoy talking to many kinds of people — writers, scientists, politicians, activists, foreign correspondents, inventors, artists, farmers, teachers, salesmen — on the phone and hearing about their ideas and experiences.

How about the most challenging aspect?

Things move fast on a daily show, especially when a big story breaks. Sometimes it can feel very hectic.

Do you have any advice for kids interested in radio journalism?

When I was little, my uncle took me to a wildlife preserve. I brought a tape recorder because I wanted to capture the sound of a tiger roaring. I did — and then played the roar over and over again. There are wonderful sounds and stories everywhere. Listen for them, and you will find a way to share them.