Thursday, November 09, 2006

Behind the Scenes on Election Night

Coming into NPR 6:30pm Tuesday night, I was excited (and a little anxious) about my Election Night duties. My shift officially began at 7pm and wouldn't end until 5 the next morning.

When I got to Studio 4a, the studio built specifically for election coverage, it was already a whirlwind of activity, much of it centering around the buffet table.

My job was call runner, which meant handing out cards to Online, Newscast, and the Board that listed the House, Senate and Gubernatorial races and projected the winning candidate. Julia Moss, the election unit intern (better known as my "Cross-country Sprinter" partner) and I frantically checked off the names of the candidates that Ken Rudin and Ron Elving (NPR's political experts) projected would win. The two of us developed an excellent system -- although, one time, I almost knocked someone over (sorry!) as I hastily ran up to the stage where Linda Wertheimer and Robert Siegel sat.

During downtime, which there was a lot of -- NPR being extremely careful not to call races too soon -- I was able to enter the studio and listen to the show. I was impressed by how smoothly things sounded, despite how hectic things were on the other side of the glass.

I am sad to report that my call runner position will probably be eliminated next year due to a technical upgrade -- man replaced by machine. But a note to the Fall 2008 interns: find a spot on election night duty. It was incredibly fun, even though by 4am I was speaking with 5 minute pauses between sentences.

- Bertina Yu

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