The radio cuts back to the voice, which Arnold knows as his own. His mind goes back over the week of interviews and edits, of cutting and pasting sound waves on his computer. Now, at 6:40 a.m., here is the final product. And even though Arnold has been hearing his voice on the radio for five years, he still isnt quite used to it. When he thinks of the 10 million other people listening, it feels stranger still.
Five years ago Arnold was hired as a National Public Radio reporter in the Bay Area, the silicon nexus of the new world economy. He took the jobreporting on entrepreneurship in Americawith a little dread. Arnold knew as much about business as most English majors.
But in those five years, hes been digging for the human side of businessthe sacrifices, the passion, the courage and the insanity of these people who throw their whole lives into building something out of nothing (in Brights case, a nonprofit). In a sense, its been Arnolds job to report on the American Dream.
Fifteen hundred miles south and east, Gerry Hadden 89 sits in the glass-enclosed library on top of his house. Around him spreads Mexico City, one of the largest collections of human beings on earth. Looking out, he can see the Chapultapec Castle, the nearby Parque España and the hazy hills south of the city.
For the last year, Hadden has been National Public Radios foreign correspondent in Mexico City, reporting not only on the 20 million people around him but on major events in the region, from the U.S. border to the South American jungles and the islands stretching out to the Antilles. Covering such an expansive beat can be overwhelming, but Hadden says somehow it all works out.
An example: After just three days in Mexico Cityfresh from Los AngelesHadden was in a hotel, still living out of his suitcase, trying to find an apartment when he got a call: he had to fly to Haiti to cover the countrys congressional elections.
Hadden got off the plane in Port-au-Prince and blinked. He didnt know exactly where he was and didnt speak a word of Creole. Around him was a country deep in crisis. There had been several recent political killings. The electoral system was in chaos (especially where ballots were delivered by donkey), and for more than a year there had been no functioning government.
Hadden hit the ground runningand was hooked. "It was exhilarating," he said, "because you land and you go, Okay, what tools do I have? I have four days to get my first piece on the air and I dont know how to ask for a taxi. How am I going to do this? And you know it just always works out somehow. I dont know how, but somehow in the last minute it always works out."
Within a few days, Haddens voice was coming through radios across America, interviewing soda vendors, boys washing cars and a man who pulled two pieces of shrapnel out of his arm from when he had walked by an exploding grenade. Hadden went out into the countrysidewading through swollen rivers where jeeps couldnt goto interview peasants who were forming cooperatives to help themselves.
Those were his first reports for NPRs international desk, and after a trial by fire Hadden came out a correspondent.