Over the course of 35 years, WHYY has aired “Radio Times.” The midday talk radio show hosted by Marty Moss-Coane comes to an end tomorrow. This follows Moss-Coane’s announcement earlier in the fall that she will no longer share her interviewing prowess with listeners on a daily basis. She will, however, begin hosting a weekly show called “The Connection” in the coming months. Morning Edition host Jennifer Lynn spoke with Marty about the programming change.
Note: This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Jennifer: This is not only a programing change, it is a life change for you and your listeners.
Marty: Yes, I mean, change is good. I think we should all keep that in mind. The hard part was making that decision. And now that it’s, just about the end of Radio Times, I’m good with it. There’s much I will miss. For me, anyway, I feel good about change.
Jennifer: I want to go back to some of your roots. At WHYY you began working with the Fresh Air team as an associate producer. That was in the early 80s. Before that you were an intern?
Marty: I started as a volunteer/intern in the news room. And to be honest with you, I was not a good reporter. It’s important to learn what you’re not good at. I couldn’t go out and gather a story and then have like an hour and a half worth of content and then winnow it down to six minutes or four minutes. I just literally would be paralyzed in front of my typewriter, my cigarette out of my mouth, you know, trying to finish a story. And it wasn’t my thing.
Jennifer: What I find interesting about the story about you becoming an intern/volunteer was that it was at the coaching of your mother?
Marty: Well, it was my mother who, this was back in the seventies, discovered public radio on WHYY, or WUHY we would call it back then, and she literally called me and said, “Marty, I think I found something you’d really, really like, and it’s called NPR, and you should listen.” And so I started listening to All Things Considered and I listen to Fresh Air when it was a local show. But it was my husband who, when I said to him, you know, I think I’ll go to graduate school and get a master’s in journalism and then work at WHYY, he said, no, just go down there, be an intern, be a volunteer, learn on the job, see if you like it, see if you’re good at it.
Jennifer: Knock on the door and see what happens.
Jennifer: At Fresh Air, it sounds like Terry Gross, the host, and the show’s producer, Danny Miller, when you were working with them, they kind of advised you and encouraged you to get into interviewing. What did they see in Marty Moss-Coane?
Marty: I don’t know why they thought I could do interviewing. They gave me a shot. What can I say? As an associate producer, I would listen to a lot of Terry’s interviews in my headphones, and I had my razor blades so I could edit things on tape. So, you know, she was in my head, and Terry sets the gold standard in terms of preparation. So I did my version of that kind of preparation. I’m not sure how great I was in the beginning, but I loved it.
Jennifer: Radio Times comes along. A conversation. But you call it a show.
Marty: I do.
Jennifer: How does a conversation equal a show?
Marty: I mean, I think they are different. Show is my shorthand, but I would say I approach interviewing as a conversation. To be honest with you, in my own mind, I think of live radio as a play. We find the guests, we write the script, I write the questions, I write the intros, the outros. And then the curtain goes up at 10 (a.m.) and whatever happens, happens.
Jennifer: What is key to conversation that’s impactful, specific to radio?
Marty: I do think that there’s a kind of intentionality and a passion that can come across on the radio. A good conversation is one where, at least as the host, I try to transmit to whoever I’m talking to that I’m 100% committed to what you are talking about. And I’ve done my homework and you’re in good hands. And while we might not agree on everything, I’m not going to sandbag you. I will explore things with you.
Jennifer: And in these final moments of Radio Times, you’ve been interviewed by a number of people about the long road of 35 years passed, and the word empathy comes up constantly. Marty Moss-Coane empathy is authentic. It’s a very real thing. It’s palpable. I think you actually physically feel this when you’re working.
Marty: I do. I mean. Oh, I don’t know. I was. I was a loved kid. That helps. I had parents that really cared about me and also gave me a lot of room to be myself. I’m a big crier. What can I say? I honestly do care about people. I do feel that. I always felt that my whole life. I’m lucky that way.
Jennifer: Now you’re launching a new radio show in the coming months. ‘The Connection’. The name sort of says it all, but I don’t know anything about it. What’s it going to be like?
Marty: I have to say, my sort of most comfortable interests are about psychology and human existence. So, The Connection, it took me about a year to sort of find the word that I think describes where I am at in my life, which is to create a place to talk about what are we on this planet for? How do we be with each other? Who are we to each other? How do we raise children who care about other people? How do we live a good life? Have a good death? You know, all those things that I think all of us share. The guest list is endless, but the focus is on just how to be a human being.
Jennifer: What do you do to live a good life, a meaningful life?
Marty: I have a really full life. I have a wonderful family. A husband … I said this recently but it is really true, he’s my biggest fan and my most honest critic, and that’s a wonderful thing to have. It’s good and I value it. We have a great son and he has two boys himself and a wonderful wife, so there’s that. I’ve been a lifelong tennis player, and I will do that as long as I can drag myself on the tennis court. I like to cook, I like to read, I like movies, I have a dog, I like to garden, I like to be outside, so there is a lot of stuff that just grounds me and makes me feel lucky and having a balanced life.
Jennifer: You make time for you? You make room for you?
Marty: I do. I do. And I’m going to do a little more of that.
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