Met with BBC Radio journalist Nina Robinson yesterday. She’s in Detroit to work on the auto story and another story about music coming out of hard times. That one will be on News Hour sometime today. Her hotel was not far from here, so I went over in the morning. She was working on a story when I arrived, so I got to do a little more on my own essay, which was good, because on the drive I got some more ideas, and luckily I was carrying a notebook.
I knew what Nina looked like from this video, so when she came down to the lobby, I saw her right away and waved. I wasn’t sure she’d recognize me in my glasses. From our first conversation, I have always felt comfortable with Nina, and meeting in person was like seeing a friend. Even before she hugged me, I was totally relaxed and had none of my usual social anxiety.
We went into the hotel restaurant for tea and talked about writing for awhile. She was very kind about my work as a citizen journalist for the BBC. We talked about how broadcast journalism is different from writing. I’ve got quite a few recorded interviews under my belt now, having done four this week, but it still feels a bit like wearing new shoes, which I mentioned.
Nina asked “So do you want to continue working with us or will you be too busy now that you’re back to teaching?”
I told her I actually have two jobs, the teaching and the writing gig for PW but said “Sure, if I have time, though I can’t imagine what the BBC wants with Detroit after this story,” I said.
“The auto crisis is ongoing,” she said, and then talked about maybe calling me on Skype for radio clips. She said I could get updates from Al, as she’d noticed he predicted the Fiat/Chrysler alliance before it happened, and had been duly impressed.
We talked about a lot of other things besides work. We gossiped about the royals and had a Diana chat. Although she lives in London now, I found out she’s originally from Birmingham. She has a son who is not quite two years old. She’s been in the states a few weeks now, so she misses him a lot. I saw pictures. He’s adorable. I’d miss him too!
I asked her how she ended up with BBC and she said that after trying a few jobs out in her early working years, she did a radio production course and from there got freelance work with the BBC. She freelanced with other places too, but knew she liked BBC and wanted a permanent place there. And she got it. She’s been there eight years.
She loved D.C. and said everyone was so nice. I told her that was likely the Obama factor. She told me a bit about what she was doing there, the people she interviewed, and what a mad crush it was. According to Nina, the Obama inauguration was all about inclusion, right down to the poorer neighborhoods in the area, everyone who wanted to be involved was able to be there and feel part of things.
Talking to Nina about Washington was a little like being there myself.
We also talked about music, and she was amazed to learn Madonna grew up not ten minutes from where we sat. We talked about 8 Mile, and the history of racism in Detroit, and how young musicians like Kid Rock and Eminem accessed hip hop culture, creating a bridge across color lines here.
Really, we were like two friends chatting over cups of tea. We talked about a lot of stuff. I’m so glad I got to meet her.