Dec. 20, 2016
Listeners of NPR stations across the country are now hearing the voice of a Virginia Commonwealth University faculty member introduce the underwriting credits — the credits that start with “Support for NPR comes from … ” — for NPR’s newscasts and podcasts.
Chioke I’Anson, Ph.D., an instructor in the Department of African American Studies in the College of Humanities and Sciences, joins Jessica Hansen as one of NPR’s two voices of underwriting. His voice started airing Nov. 28.
It is a very nerdy dream come true to join Jessica as a voice of NPR.
“I’ve been a public radio fan for a good 15 years,” I’Anson said. “[Underwriting announcers have been among] the most present, iconic voices on all of NPR. They are at the end of every newscast, of every show, and at the beginning of every podcast. They are as recognizable as Robert Siegel and Audie Cornish. The credits they read are essential to keeping the lights on, so to speak. It is a very nerdy dream come true to join Jessica as a voice of NPR.”
I’Anson attended a storytelling workshop at NPR in June along with his fellow co-creators of the forthcoming podcast “Do Over,” which was one of only three shows in the country to win funding from the NPR Story Lab, NPR’s idea hub that creates pilots for radio programs, launches new podcasts and introduces new voices to the public radio network.
After I’Anson and his team gave a presentation at the workshop, Israel Smith, NPR’s director of promotion and audience development, approached I’Anson and told him that he liked the way he sounded and that they should keep in touch.
“A short time after that he had me audition and then shopped the tape around to the relevant decision-makers,” I’Anson said. “He told me the news in a morning phone call and I immediately went into a state of delirium.”
“I recorded a bank of underwriting credits in November, which began to play the week after Thanksgiving after the hourly newscast,” he added. “I get texts from friends every time they hear me telling listeners about PajamaGram.”
In addition to his work for NPR and the “Do Over” podcast, I’Anson served as community producer for the Richmond-based public radio project “UnMonumental” which launched in 2016 with VCU alumna Kelley Libby.
In the spring, I’Anson will teach a special African-American studies course on podcasting called “Podcasting While Black,” which will use the rhetorical strategies of figures such as Martin Luther King, Frederick Douglas and Audre Lorde as starting points to develop students’ broadcast “voices” that they will use in a podcast pilot they will develop over the course of the semester.
“I am excited to share all that I have learned working in podcasting with students, as the skills that going into conceptualizing and making a podcast are all skills that match our goals for learning outcomes,” he said. “In addition to teaching students to master communication methods in the audio medium, I will also invite my radio contacts to give advice on the current state of affairs in public media. It is my hope that the students in this class will come away with better communication skills and a better sense of the available opportunities in public radio.”
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