#NPRtbt: Guy Raz, Host of TED Radio Hour
8 Questions With TED Radio Hour Host, Guy Raz
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever done when researching a story?
Guy Raz: I had my rear end read by a blind clairvoyant, who reads the future by feeling the distinct lines on the human derriere. It was a blind man in Germany, and he was contracted by a tablet company to predict the future. He claimed all he needed was a photograph of the rear end, and he would just feel it. So I went up there with my assistant, and we had him read the distinctive lines on our butts.
What did he read?
GR: He told me I have a prominent career in real estate. So there you go. That was 15 years ago, and I’ve only made bad decisions in real estate. [Laughs]
When did you know you were going to be a journalist?
GR: I knew I was going to be a journalist when my dad used to take me to his office in downtown LA and we would pass the beautiful LA Times building on the corner of 1st and Spring. I would look at this grand, old building and know that the people inside were writing stories that could change things.
Who would you most like to sit next to at a dinner party?
GR: Thomas Jefferson. He just did all these things. He was an architect, designer, gardener, philosopher, and he also wrote the Declaration of Independence… And the other person I would want at my dinner party would be Katy Perry. I think there’s a lot of depth there that people don’t see. She comes from this weird family background. Very religious. Her parents were pastors, and then she kind of busted out and became one of the biggest pop stars in the world. She was the first person on Twitter to reach like 40 million followers or something crazy. And she also writes her own music. She has a co-writing credit on every song, and some songs have just her own credit. I think her, me and Thomas Jefferson could have an interesting conversation.
You were an intern here at NPR. What advice would you give both current and future NPR interns?
GR: People who work here want to share what they know, and I think the biggest mistake that interns make is that they are so intimidated by the people they hear on the radio or the people they admire, and they’re scared to ask them if they can hang out with them. And you have to do it because they all want to help; they all want to show you what they do.
Whatever type of internship you do, if there’s somebody who’s doing the job you want to do in the future, understand what they do, become familiar with it, and tell that person you want to know more about what they do and how they got there, and that you want to learn from them. Just be straight up with them because there’s nothing more flattering to hear from an intern that they want to be just like you.
What have you learned from your own interns?
GR: I have learned that interns really need to be involved. They want feedback, and it’s important to give them feedback, and I’ve learned to be more forthcoming with it. We’ve had segments in our shows that have been inspired by interns. Intern is a tricky word because I think of our intern as a professional colleague. They’re a part of the team. So we have expectations for our interns. We understand that you’re just starting out, but I’ve also really pushed interns to just throw things out there – even if they’re nervous about sounding dumb. No one is going to say, ‘Oh that was dumb.’ Unless you’re a real jerk.
I rely on our interns. I’ve learned a lot because I think the big advantage that interns have over everyone else who works here is that you guys are coming out of this environment where you’re around other people your age. There are things you know that are just intuitive that we just don’t know – that we haven’t been exposed to. We don’t bring interns in just to give them experience, we bring them in to diversify how we sound and the way we think about the world. What have I not learned from our interns?
What has been your greatest success so far?
GR: The thing I feel I’m best at is being a father. I’m better at it than anything I’ve ever done. When you see your children, and you see them growing and developing and becoming their own little people, it’s just incredibly gratifying.
What do you want your life to look like 10 years from now?
GR: You know what? I don’t know. I’m so excited to see what it’s going to be like. I’m excited to see what my children are going to be like; I’m excited to see what NPR is going to be like; I’m excited to see what our show is going to be like. I’m in this weird place in life where I have two small children, and I’m super busy at work. You don’t sleep, but you figure it out. So in ten years from now, if I can get a little bit more sleep, that’ll be great.
Interview conducted by NPR Arts Desk Intern Linda Chen, with additional assistance from Science Intern Linda Poon. Edited by Generation Listen intern Alex Schelldorf.