White House Correspondent ProFile: 'I Listen Best When I'm Wearing Giant Headphones.'

Oct 12, 2013
Originally published on October 7, 2013 10:29 am

My name... Tamara Keith

NPR employee since... December 2009 (preceded by a couple of temp stints).

Public radio listener since... The early '80s. I was your typical back-seat listener. My parents listened as we sat in terrible LA traffic. Later on, as a teenager, I sent letters to all of my NPR heroes (spelling many of their names terribly wrong, sorry 'Karl Castle') and, somehow, magically became an essayist for Weekend Edition Sunday.

My job at NPR is... White House Correspondent come January! But before that I was a congressional correspondent where I spent a lot of time waiting in basements and chasing elected officials down hallways.

I owe my lovely smile to... my early career as a child actress and model, which paid for lots of orthodontic work and, sadly, not much more.

The one word I always stumble over on air is... just one?

The one essential I'll bring on the next campaign trail... my packable down coat.

I use social media to... be multiple places at once. Since cloning isn't possible, on Twitter I follow lots of smart reporters and others on the Hill and elsewhere. I'm pretty selective about what I share, and if I'm on All Things Considered, some days my feed goes very quiet. Facebook is for connecting and helping me see outside the Washington bubble.

I'm not as... tall ...as I sound. (I'm only 5'1" and a quarter.)

The Newscast headline reporting the last year in my life would be...
"Correspondent goes into labor at work, covers huge political events including election, fiscal cliff and government shutdown, and discovers she has limits, but keeps forgetting that lesson." This is why the newscast unit would never have me.

On Sunday morning, you'll find me... running the beautiful trails around the DC area, and then racing to take my son to baby swim class at the Y.

I've learned the most about radio from... Greg Smith, my very first editor at NPR who edited all of those Weekend Edition Sunday essays when I was a teenager, and Ceil Muller, a superb engineer at KQED whose voice I still hear in my head when I forget to record room tone.

When I tell people I work for NPR, they often say... "Oh, what's your name?" I tell them, and they stare at me blankly, a little disappointed. Then, "What's Nina Totenberg like in real life?"

I wanted to be... a volcanologist ...when I grew up.

My next gadget will be... Jawbone UP, which is, basically, a pedometer that also monitors your sleep. I have it on backorder.

I listen best when... wearing giant headphones. Yes, this means I have bed head at work at all hours of the day. But the only way to know what I am getting on tape is to wear those massive cans.

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