Excerpt from my interview with Everything is Alive creator Ian Chillag.
Listen to the full episode here.
Ian: I went and started volunteering at WHYY in Philadelphia where I worked on a show called Been There Done That, which was a public radio show aimed directly at baby boomers — as if every public radio show was not aimed directly at baby boomers. I was 21, 22 years old producing segments like The Colonoscopy Special.
Skye: The what? I’m sorry?
Ian: The Colonoscopy Special, which was a live recording of a colonoscopy.
Skye: Oh. Wow. What was that?
Ian: Mostly it was a lot of – moaning was the main sound that came across.
Skye: What a strange job for you to have in your early 20s.
Ian: Yeah. Totally. It was great though. I mean, it was great because the producer I worked with was really open to me trying weird things. Also, maybe because I wasn’t the audience, and the audience wasn’t that big, I didn’t feel like there were consequences for doing weird things. It didn’t really feel to me like anybody was ever going to hear it. It was a good place to explore, I guess.
Skye: Take risks.
Ian: Yeah. Just sort of – it feels like finger painting.
Skye: I like that metaphor.
Ian: Yeah. I think that’s what it felt like. Being at WHYY – for some reason Danny Miller, the executive producer of Fresh Air – there was a job opened up and he asked me if I wanted to apply for it. I don’t know what he saw in me. I was probably a pretty obnoxious young producer. But, I got that job. That was wonderful. My time there was really great.
Skye: Can I ask you – because, and I’m sure you get asked this all the time, but I’m such a – I mean, Terry’s a hero of mine. What was it like to work with her?
Ian: She’s the best.
Skye: I knew you were going to say that.
Ian: I think sometimes people want there to be a dark side.
Skye: Oh no. I don’t. I want her to be perfect.
Ian: I can tell you there’s no dark side. I can tell you the one thing – being a fan of hers for as long as I was before I started working there. You never hear her curse on the radio. The first time you hear an F-bomb come out of Terry Gross’ mouth in Terry Gross’ voice – it’s like as bizarre as if your cat said it. It’s like – that doesn’t belong there.
Skye: Yeah. I can see that.
Ian: She and Danny were both – and everybody there, really – were just so generous. It was a really great place to be, and a great place to learn.