Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Noah Adams, December 7, 2014

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:06 - Importance of accents

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Partial Transcript: Alright. It's December 7th, 2014.

Segment Synopsis: Noah Adams discusses his realization that it is important for people to be proud of their accents and where they are from.

Keywords: Accents; Locations; Pronunciation; Proud; Speaking; Young people

Subjects: Radio.; Speech.

00:04:09 - Customs in Appalachia

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Partial Transcript: What was it that got you starting to explore Eastern Kentucky?

Segment Synopsis: Adams talks about becoming interested in Eastern Kentucky through his mother's lineage. He talks about traveling in Appalachia while working on stories and the importance of understanding the customs there to stay safe.

Keywords: Ashland (Ky.); Boyd County (Ky.); Customs; Dangerous; Distrust; Eastern Kentucky; Mothers; North Carolina; Outsiders; Porches; Producers; Snake Mountain; Trouble

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Social conditions; Appalachian Region--Social life and customs; Families.; Genealogy; Radio journalism.; Radio stories.

00:07:22 - Documentary on the Red River dam issue

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Partial Transcript: And then I got very interested in the Red River Gorge because I was camping up there, usually by myself.

Segment Synopsis: Adams talks about how he became interested in the issue of a dam being built on the Red River. He talks about creating a documentary on the issue and the outcome of the vote for the dam. He talks about his interactions with Appalshop while working on this project. He mentions beginning to work at the radio station WBKY in part due to his work on this documentary.

Keywords: 1970s; Accents; Articles; Associated Press; Chief announcers; Corps of Engineers; Dams; Documentaries; Elections; Flood control; Guidebooks; Harry Caudill; Interest; Issues; Politics; Public radio; Radio shows; The Unforeseen Wilderness: Kentucky's Red River Gorge (Book); University of Kentucky; Videos; Whitesburg (Ky.); Workshops

Subjects: Appalshop, Inc.; Radio stations.; Red River (Ky.); Red River Gorge (Ky.)

00:14:14 - Early career in radio and being hired at NPR

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Partial Transcript: That's what put me on the staff of WBKY.

Segment Synopsis: Adams talks more about beginning to work at WBKY and how the station was supported by the university at that time. He talks about his career path to becoming a host at NPR. He discusses the pressure of writing for radio.

Keywords: 'Liberation of the deadline'; All Things Considered (Radio program); Deadlines; Documentaries; Documentary; Hired; Jobs; Letters; Marching bands; Morning announcers; National Public Radio (NPR); Orchestras; Pressure; Public relations; Support; University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; University of Kentucky; WBKY; Washington, D.C.; Wendell Berry

Subjects: Public radio.; Radio authorship.; Radio broadcasters.; Radio broadcasting.; Radio journalism.; Radio journalists.; Radio programs.; Radio public speaking.; Radio scripts.; Radio stations.; Radio stories.; Radio writers; Washington (D.C.)

00:20:08 - Difference between his methods and Appalshop's

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Partial Transcript: Uh, I want to ask a little bit more about um about Appalshop.

Segment Synopsis: Adams talks about how he found Appalshop's methods to be slow, and tells a story about visiting a church for a story which would have violated Appalshop's methods of integrating into a community.

Keywords: Bill Richardson; Documentaries; Documentary; Elders; Houses; Newspaper columns; Old Regular Baptist churches; Pace; Pat Gish; Permission; Polite; Recording; Slow; Tape recorders; Tom Gish; Visits; Whitesburg (Ky.)

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Social conditions; Appalachian Region--Social life and customs; Appalshop, Inc.; Radio authorship.; Radio journalism.; Radio journalists.; Radio stories.; Radio writers

00:25:06 - Stories about Appalachia

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Partial Transcript: So h--at--w--a--was it visiting them though that really put the, the notion of the importance of understanding Appalachia on your, on your radar?

Segment Synopsis: Adams talks about becoming interested in stories about Appalachia and their impact on his view of his own work. He talks about working on stories about coal mining, pollution, and mountaintop removal.

Keywords: Banjos; Black lung; Charleston (W. Va.); Chemicals; Coal fields; Coal industry; Coal stories; Difficulty; Directors; Disconnect; Distancing; Elk River; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Family; Government; Hospitality; Houses; Influence; Jobs; Lives; Media; Mountain top removal; Music; National Public Radio (NPR); Orphan mines; Reporters; Resorts; Sewage; Snowshoe (W. Va.); Spills; Unions; Watershed; West Virginia; Work

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Social conditions; Appalachian Region--Social life and customs; Appalshop, Inc.; Coal miners; Coal mines and mining--Appalachian Region; Environmentalism; Families.; Pollution.; Radio authorship.; Radio journalism.; Radio journalists.; Radio stories.; Radio writers; Sewerage.; Water quality.

00:36:32 - More on his Red River documentary

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Partial Transcript: Well what you drew you out to the, to the New River--uh, to the Red River Gorge?

Segment Synopsis: Adams talks briefly about his interest in Red River Gorge and the sales of his documentary.

Keywords: Camping; Copies; Documentaries; Documentary; Guidebooks; Sales; Workshops

Subjects: Appalshop, Inc.; Radio stations.; Red River (Ky.); Red River Gorge (Ky.)

00:39:15 - Conflicts over media about Appalachia

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Partial Transcript: Uh, you mentioned about the, the, uh, banjo music playing after your Appalachian stories.

Segment Synopsis: Adams talks about some of the ways in which editors would attempt to change his stories about Appalachia, for example by adding stereotypical banjo music. He talks about other media that has harmed the region, specifically the movie "Deliverance."

Keywords: "Hillbilly"; Accents; Banjos; Charming; Conflicts; Deliverance (Film); Deliverance (Motion picture); Eastern Kentucky; Editors; Harm; Media; Music; National Public Radio (NPR); Weird; West Virginia

Subjects: Appalachian Region--Social conditions; Appalachian Region--Social life and customs; Appalshop, Inc.; Radio authorship.; Radio journalism.; Radio journalists.; Radio stories.; Radio writers; Stereotypes (Social psychology)

00:41:59 - Skills needed for work in radio

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Partial Transcript: That's the good--a great thing about NPR is, is: Can you do it? That's it.

Segment Synopsis: Adams gives advice for how to intern or be hired at a place like NPR. He discusses his writing style and ability, and talks about the importance of writing for the audience. He talks briefly about the difference between writing books and writing for radio. He talks about the difficulty of reading on the air something that you have never read aloud, and discusses the deadlines in radio writing.

Keywords: All Things Considered (Radio program); Audience; Books; Coworkers; Creative non-fiction; Deadlines; Education; Hired; Inflection; Intelligence; Interns; Italics; Jobs; John McPhee; Listeners; National Public Radio (NPR); On the air; Problems; Pronunciation; Radio copy; Reading; Reading aloud; Relationships; Scripts; Skills; Social; Styles; Teachers; Washington, D.C.; Writing; readers

Subjects: Public radio.; Radio announcing.; Radio audiences.; Radio authorship.; Radio broadcasters.; Radio broadcasting.; Radio journalism.; Radio journalists.; Radio programs.; Radio public speaking.; Radio scripts.; Radio stations.; Radio stories.; Radio writers; Washington (D.C.)

00:55:50 - Lack of personal interest in news

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Partial Transcript: You said that, uh, when you left WBKY and went to NPR that you weren't really interested in the news.

Segment Synopsis: Adams discusses his personal lack of interest in news.

Keywords: Documentaries; Interest; National Public Radio (NPR); News; Reporters; Time Magazine; WBKY; Wall Street Journal

Subjects: Broadcast journalism.

00:59:29 - Decision to leave the position of host of "All Things Considered"

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Partial Transcript: Why did you chose to, um, leave the host position at, uh, All Things Considered?

Segment Synopsis: Adams talks about his decision to leave the host position at "All Things Considered." He talks about his experiences on the air during the aftermath of September 11, 2001. He talks about how his job became much more stressful at this time, which contributed to his desire to leave. He talks about his stipulations for his replacement.

Keywords: 9-11-2001; All Things Considered (Radio program); Decisions; Diversity; Emotions; Gary Condit; Hosts; Michele Norris; National Public Radio (NPR); News; Positions; Replacements; Reporters; Resignations; September 11, 2001; Shows; Stressful; Trust; Unscripted

Subjects: Public radio.; Radio announcing.; Radio audiences.; Radio authorship.; Radio broadcasters.; Radio broadcasting.; Radio journalism.; Radio journalists.; Radio programs.; Radio public speaking.; Radio stations.; Radio stories.; September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001.; Washington (D.C.)

01:06:13 - Career satisfaction / Liking one's voice on the radio

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Partial Transcript: You said that, um, you would have been happy to work construction.

Segment Synopsis: Adams talks about how he would have also been happy to have a career in construction. He talks about whether he likes his own voice, his caution against liking one's own voice too much, and tells a story about an interview in which he was satisfied with how he sounded. He talks briefly about how radio has changed over time.

Keywords: All Things Considered (Radio program); Changes; Construction; Horse fences; Interviews; Ira Glass; Jobs; Length; Lexington (Ky.); Long; On the air; Producers; Satisfaction; Sound; Stories; Tests; Voices; Weekday shows; Weekend shows; Work; Workshops

Subjects: Public radio.; Radio announcing.; Radio authorship.; Radio broadcasters.; Radio broadcasting.; Radio journalism.; Radio journalists.; Radio programs.; Radio public speaking.; Radio stations.; Radio stories.

01:16:56 - Writing books versus writing for radio

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Partial Transcript: What about writing?

Segment Synopsis: Adams talks more in depth about the differences between writing books versus writing for radio. He talks about the importance of word choice. He talks about his writing level and why he is happy with how he writes. He cautions against showing off during interviews or while writing. He discusses some of the books he has written, including his book on the Wright Brothers, Appalachia, and piano lessons. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Accessibility; Anniversaries; Anniversary; Berlin Wall; Biographies; Books; Bragging; Caution; Deadlines; Enjoyment; Far Appalachia: Following the New River North (Book); Form; Format; Implicit; Inflection; Interviews; John McPhee; National Public Radio (NPR); Piano Lessons: Music, Love, and True Adventures (Book); Reporters; Research; Showing off; Styles; Subjects; Transitions; Word choice; Wright Brothers; Writing levels

Subjects: Authors.; Public radio.; Radio announcing.; Radio audiences.; Radio authorship.; Radio broadcasters.; Radio broadcasting.; Radio journalism.; Radio journalists.; Radio programs.; Radio public speaking.; Radio scripts.; Radio stations.; Radio stories.; Radio writers; Writing