Writing Scripts for NPR Producers

Barbara Sprunt worked alongside producers and wrote scripts for NPR's program Tell Me More.

Barbara Sprunt worked alongside producers and wrote scripts for NPR’s program Tell Me More.

Dean’s Intern Barbara Sprunt at NPR.

It was a Friday evening after a day of pre-interviews and web builds. A coworker came over to me and asked if I had ever done a book interview before. I shook my head.

“Well, now’s your chance!” she said.

A few hours later, I was back at home and reading a book in preparation for an interview with the author the following week.

I currently work as an intern at NPR’s Tell Me More, a weekday news-talk radio program hosted by Michel Martin. My responsibilities vary from day to day. Some days, I’m assisting with the coordination of a month-long, social media event called #NPRBlacksinTech, which will showcase African-American entrepreneurs and leaders in science and technology. Other days, I’m on the phone booking studios for guests across the country. And on that particular day, I was given the chance to read a book and write the preliminary interview script.

I spent the weekend highlighting interesting parts in the book and scribbling questions in the margins. By Monday, I had a working script that was ready to be edited. And by Thursday, I was greeting the author in the downstairs lobby before bringing him upstairs for the interview.

I sat in the studio with the producers as the interview got started. I felt proud to hear the questions I had worked on over the weekend being answered in real-time by the author. The project had come full circle: the scribbled questions had led to sounds bytes.

It’s this kind of hands-on experience that brings distinction to all Dean’s Internships. But what impresses me most about my internship at NPR is the level of mentorship given by all members of the Tell Me More team. If you’re able to find just one person to offer guidance during an internship, you’re lucky. But at Tell Me More, I always feel as though every producer is encouraging me to try new things and challenging me to approach stories and tasks in new ways.

The best piece of advice I can offer to future interns is to take advantage of the coworkers around you. Be it radio, public relations, or a film set, your internship is a gateway into your chosen profession. It gives you the chance to learn and the opportunity to ask questions. Listening to the answers and incorporating the advice you are given may just turn that internship into a career of your own. And when the internship is over, reflect on the mentorship you received and make a note to pay it forward.