Nearly 9 million miles and counting.

That’s how many miles Idella Hansen and Sandi Talbott have between them. The best friends and big-rig truckers have been at it for an awfully long time. But back when they started, they were a rarity on the road.

“There weren’t that many women out here driving trucks,” Talbott recalls with Hansen, on a recent visit with StoryCorps. “And my husband’s health was not good; he only had one leg, so consequently I did all the driving.”

On The Road For Decades — And Not Stopping Anytime Soon

Photo: StoryCorps


from NPR’s On the Media (source & full article)

1. In the immediate aftermath, news outlets will get it wrong.

2. Don’t trust anonymous sources.

3. Don’t trust stories that cite another news outlet as the source of the information.

4. There’s almost never a second shooter.

5. Pay attention to the language the media uses.

  • We are receiving reports” - sources are claiming something has happened, but it has not been confirmed.
  • We are seeking confirmation” - the news outlet is confident, but still can’t confirm.
  • We can confirm” - information has come from multiple sources, and the news outlet feels confident that it can claim something as an actual fact.
  • We have learned” - how a news outlet declares it has a scoop. As Andy Carvin says “on the one hand, it could mean that they’re the first ones to confirm something. Or they’re going out on a limb and reporting something that no one else has felt comfortable reporting yet.”

6. Look for news outlets close to the incident.

7. Compare multiple sources.

8. Big news brings out the fakers. And Photoshoppers.

9. Beware reflexive retweeting. Some of this is on you.

Professor Prompts Students with NPR Stories

Illustration by Elana Gabrielle.

Illustrator and illustration professor Ryan Bubnis teaches at Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) in Portland, Ore. He had his students do an assignment based on an NPR radio story for his class “Cultural Marketplace.”  

All images are student work based on this story about gardening in one school in the Bronx.

Illustration by Searra Miller.

“I begin each semester with an editorial project and I use an NPR story as the prompt. I came across the Cory Turner story on Stephen Ritz and knew it was the one.  Using NPR stories has been great because there is a ton of really good, accessible content. I like that we can listen to the story as a group and then dig deeper with a group discussion. It’s a great jumping off point. After listening to the story we have a brainstorm session to discuss possible directions for their spot illustrations. We go over the main topics/issues in the story and search for key words or quotes that spark an idea for an image. This first assignment helps me understand how they conceptualize and develop their imagery from start to finish. It shows how well they can adapt their illustration to the story and how they respond to art direction.

Illustrated .GIF by Bryson Kaps.

Illustration by Tess Rubenstien.

Here is the detailed version of the prompt: Quick turnaround spot illustration to accompany a magazine article based on the NPR story we’ll listen to in class. Specs are: 7” x 11” horizontal (wider rather than taller), full color. Any medium. Think smart, bold, graphic and impactful. Push your style and voice. Use your medium! Communicate your concept/idea/personal take to the viewer. Final format could a gif., infographic or traditional spot illustration.”

If you’ve ever used an NPR story as a prompt, send us a link to the story and your work! You can post it here in a reply or email us!

Illustration by Subin Yang.

Illustration by Michelle Maxwell.

Illustration by Clara Dudley.

Illustration by Meadow Faulkner.

Illustrated .GIF by Molly Robin.

Illustration by Clive Hawken.

Illustration by Vance Lump.

Illustration by Hope Darby.

Illustration by Melissa Dienes.

Illustrated .GIF by Emily Schwartz.

If you’ve ever used an NPR story as a prompt, send us a link to the story and your work! You can post it here in a reply or email us!


We’re not going to bury the lead here: Bob Ross’ hair was actually straight. Just ask his longtime business partner Annette Kowalski, who knew Ross better than anyone — he had just gotten out of the Air Force, and was unsuccessfully trying to make a living as a painter, she says.

“He got this bright idea that he could save money on haircuts. So he let his hair grow, he got a perm, and decided he would never need a haircut again,” Kowalski explains.

Before he could change it back, though, the perm became his company’s logo — Ross hated it. “He could never, ever, ever change his hair, and he was so mad about that,” Kowalski says. “He got tired of that curly hair.”

But viewers never got tired of Ross or his show The Joy of Painting. With his soft, hypnotic voice, he’d bring his viewers in close as he created 30-minute masterpieces — distant mountain ranges, seascapes, forest scenes, always with those happy little trees. He’d sling his palette around, blend the titanium white paint, whisper about his life in Alaska, then gently tap his fan brush to create a canvas full of fluffy clouds. With his partly unbuttoned chambray shirt, his halo of tight curls and his soothing demeanor, Ross was a fixture on PBS.

Re-watching the show decades later — it’s now streaming on Netflix — The Joy of Painting still feels like a personal art lesson. And yet the oil painter we spent so many hours with remains a mystery. Ross led a private life and did only a few interviews during his career.

The Real Bob Ross: Meet The Meticulous Artist Behind Those Happy Trees

Photos: Bob Ross Inc.


‘Hamilton’ Fans Pilgrimage To Founding Father’s Once-Forgotten Grave (NPR):

Hamilton was just 47 when he was killed in the infamous 1804 duel with Aaron Burr. He’s buried in the cemetery of Trinity Church, where he owned a pew (No. 92), and where five of his eight children were baptized. His grave is marked by an elegant white marble pyramid, surrounded by four urns. Visitors leave offerings on top of the base: roses, lilies, pebbles and coins.

His widow Eliza, who outlived Hamilton by 50 years, is buried at the foot of his monument.

“She tends to get more gifts than he does,” notes Trinity archivist Anne Petrimoulx. “I think the musical makes people identify more with Eliza than with Alex.”


“We’re close,” Petrimoulx says with a laugh. “We’re tight!”

Self-described history nerd Stacy Kmentt of Chicago has come to the cemetery as part of what she calls her “pilgrHAMage” — “ham” as in “Hamilton.” She’s been making the rounds of various Hamilton historic spots in the city, and here she slips off her canvas shoes and places them gently on Eliza’s grave for a quick photo.

She’s written a message on them in cursive, using gold, acrylic glitter paint. On one shoe, she’s written “who lives, who dies”; on the other, “who tells your story?” It’s the title of the final song of the musical, the big emotional finish of Hamilton.

“Just how much he accomplished in his short life is phenomenal,” Kmentt says.

And that observation provides a handy motivational tool. Just think: WWHD? Kmentt agrees. “Every time I’m sitting around doing something lazy, I’m like, 'what would Hamilton be doing?’ He would not be sitting around watching endless YouTube videos or Netflix, that’s for sure!”

Goodbye, Summer Interns

Big shout out to Chelsea Beck and Chris Kindred for being so cool and kind and helpful this summer. Their work really speaks for itself and we can’t wait to see what they do next. We’re so thankful we got to know you both and we will miss you a ton!

Here’s Chelsea:

Illustrations by Chelsea Beck; photo of Chelsea by NPR. 

And of course, Chris:

Illustrations by Chris Kindred; photo of Chris by NPR.

New Illustrators: Michelle Kondrich

We’ve been working with some great new illustrators this summer. Here’s a sample of some of the work from Michelle Kondrich. Enjoy and check out her site to see more of her work!

Michelle Kondrich illustrates the struggle of paying your way through school.

Her sketches were all really fun and showed at least three distinctively different concepts, which art directors prefer. I decided to go with “3A” with more pups and some different job accessories. 

Kondrich’s thumbnail sketches for “Why Summer Jobs Don’t Pay Anymore

Illustration for “After IVF, Some Struggle With What To Do With Leftover Embryos”.

NPR Specials: Hamilton - A Story of US

This week on NPR Specials: Hamilton: A Story of US is a one hour Fourth of July holiday special that features the voices of students, the Hamilton cast members, biographer Ron Chernow, the irresistible super hit Hamilton score, and Pulitzer Prize winner Lin-Manuel Miranda.

In New York City, thousands of students from underserved neighborhoods will see Hamilton as part of an innovative American history curriculum. Captivated by the hip hop music and engaging with both historic and contemporary issues, the students explore the stories and personalities of America’s Revolution in their own words and musical performances. Lin-Manuel Miranda says that Hamilton is “a story about America then, told by America now.” While bringing diverse voices of young citizens to the old and new questions of a democratic republic, the program will engage a broad spectrum of audiences.

Hamilton: A Story of US will air on Saturday, July 2nd at 19:00 and Monday, July 4th at 8:00.

It’s an all-too-familiar practice.

Families go to see movies that feature fun, friendly animals on the big screen. Then they rush out to buy one of the very same type of animal, to keep as a pet. Before long, the cute new member of the family becomes too much trouble, or isn’t cared for properly; the animal dies, is abandoned, or is surrendered to overwhelmed rescue groups.

It happened when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies came out; at one point, 90 percent of purchased turtles were estimated to have died in the United States alone.

It happened in the wake of Beverly Hills Chihuahua — and the tiny dogs paid the price when they were abandoned at high rates.

It happened with Finding Nemo, when children clamored for clownfish. Some children, seeking to give their new pets freedom through the same route used by Nemo in the film, flushed their fish down the toilet.

Now, with two weeks to go until the very-hyped opening of Finding Dory — the Disney/Pixar sequel to Nemo — concern mounts for what may happen with the Pacific blue tang.

Please, Let’s Not Find Dory

Photo: Norbert Wu/Getty Images/Minden Pictures