Ray Suarez: Back In The Saddle Again

At the end of September 1999, I hosted my final hour of NPR’s Talk of the Nation, and headed back to television, to take up an assignment as a senior correspondent for the PBS NewsHour. This week, almost 16 years later, I was sitting down in Studio 3A at the WBUR studios in Boston to host an hour of live radio for the first time since hanging up my headphones at NPR.

Butterflies? A little. Maybe.

People have always asked me about doing live television and live radio, “Do you get nervous?” I wouldn’t call it nervous as a kind of forced concentration that is mental and physical at the same time. I’m sure if I had electrodes attached to me as the funding credits and the opening music rolled, you’d see all kinds of physical manifestations of the body being kicked into a higher gear.

Monday was a little different. Would I still remember how? Would I hit my time cues? Would I pace the program correctly, dropping into the pot just the right amount of callers, guests, tape, social media messages…and the right amount of me? Too much would be too much. Not enough would be, well, not enough.

The crackerjack staff at On Point, including people as young as and younger than my children, put me through my paces. They were thorough, careful, made suggestions…but not too many.

By the second hour of the first day I felt a –zing!- sense memory of what all those years at Talk of the Nation felt like. Being in the zone. One eye on the clock. One eye on the caller screen. One ear attentively fixed on the guests, the other ear on the overall sound of the show. Oh yeah. Maybe it is like riding a bike.

And just like riding a bike, you’re a little winded after two hours.
-- Ray Suarez
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