Q&A with long-time Fresh Air producer and new contributor, Ann Marie Baldonado. Her first interview as a contributor airs today.
When did you start at Fresh Air?
I started in the spring of 1998, when the show needed someone to fill in for an associate producer who was going on his honeymoon for a month. I just never left. That was 17 years ago.
What do you do on the show?
I book interviews that have to do with film, TV, theater, entertainment with fellow producer Lauren Krenzel. We watch early screeners of movies and shows, research them, and read up on possible guests. Sometimes we are lucky enough to attend film festivals so we can preview a bunch of films in a short amount of time. We then discuss, sometimes for months, who we should actually have on the show. Then we arrange the interviews and edit them after they are recorded.
What are some of your favorite interviews you’ve booked?
Let’s see… I have been booking these entertainment interviews for 10 years, and some of my favorites include booking all three Beastie Boys together, Bruce Springsteen, Sacha Baron Cohen as himself (after he had only been doing interviews as Borat), and Scorsese’s editor Thelma Schoonmaker. I like booking comedians, like of course, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, as well as Aziz Ansari, Amy Schumer, Key and Peele, Hari Kondubolu, and occasionally first time directors. For example, we had Lena Dunham on early on for her film, Tiny Furniture.
Most memorable Fresh Air moment?
I am pretty short, and so are Terry [Gross] and executive producer Danny Miller. One time, we were in New York City for a recording session and we all pilled into and out of a cab while it was pouring rain, and something about the whole thing felt like we were circus clowns, carrying a bunch of props, doing prat falls. I’m not sure if they remember it that way.
What is most exciting about being at the mic, instead of behind the scenes?
It just makes me appreciate the work that Terry and Dave [Davies] do even more. It’s hard to really listen to guests and keep track of what your plan was, what you wanted to ask. It can be challenging to keep that all in your head and still be casual and spontaneous.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself
I’m a really good knitter. I had a friend who had a hand knit sweater line called Stellapop that she sold to places like Barneys and Anthropologie and I would knit some of those sweaters for her at night after work and on weekends.
Were there any early indications that you’d end up in a job like this?
When I was little, I used to record TV shows like Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch on my cassette player off the TV so I could listen to the audio later and memorize it. On that same cassette player, my cousin and I would record a radio show where we would tell jokes, sing songs, do pretend interviews. Then in high school, I was a pretty good, pretty nerdy kid, but I would do one sneaky thing: When I was a senior, I would drive from where we lived in suburban New Jersey to Manhattan, alone, to the Angelika theater so I could see independent and foreign films. Talk about living the life.