Ten Years In Tinsel Town: NPR West Celebrates A Decade
The first thing a lot of people say when they walk into NPR West is "I didn't know there was an NPR out here!" But in fact, as of November 5, we've been here for 10 years.
The studios at NPR West were opened as a response to 9/11, to be a backup facility able to continue NPR program distribution to Member Stations if something were to happen to NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.
NPR West is located in Culver City, CA, which like Santa Monica or Beverly Hills, is part of Los Angeles, but also its own city. Our colleagues back in DC (which we call the "mothership") often refer to NPR West as the "NPR Resort" or "NPR Beach House." And not surprisingly, a lot of them come visit us when it's coldest back east.
On any given day, there are about 30 staffers at NPR West. Renee Montagne hosts Morning Edition from Studio B. (True story: she gets to work around 11 p.m. to go on the air at 2 a.m., local time.) National Desk Correspondents Karen Grigsby Bates, Mandalit del Barco, Ina Jaffe, and Carrie Kahn along with NPR Diplomatic Correspondent Mike Shuster are all based here. The rest of the staff are on the Morning Edition team, some engineers, one producer, three editors, and a handful of Development and Corporate Sponsorship staff.
Because NPR West is located near Tinsel Town, much of what we do is remote interviews. If All Things Considered wants to talk to a movie director, or Terry Gross wants to interview to television actor, there's a good chance those guests are LA-based. Rather than fly the person out to the East Coast, or conduct a sub-par-sounding phone interview, the guest is invited to come into NPR West for an interview over an ISDN line in one of our two studios. In addition there are five production rooms often used by the correspondents when recording their pieces.
The building itself is a gorgeous mix of practicality and industrial charm. In this part of Los Angeles buildings are required to maintain a part of the facilities original use. Outside of the building, there are giant funnels that were once used to expel sawdust because the space was originally built for a furniture manufacturing company. The owners before us (a dotcom startup that didn't survive the tech bubble) made some lovely renovations including (my favorite) planters in the polished concrete floors.
Between guests and reporters, every day for the last ten years has brought something new here at NPR West. Here's to the next decade.