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NPR’s Ari Shapiro on the intimacy of storytelling

As co-host of National Public Radio’s flagship evening broadcast, “All Things Considered,” Ari Shapiro, 44, is one of the network’s highest-profile correspondents.

When asked what he thinks makes a great story, he replied, “When I’m looking for a great story, I want a point of connection, I want high stakes, and I want a reason that someone cares about. should.”


Ari Shapiro, co-host of National Public Radio’s “All Things Concealed.”

CBS News

He helps structure coverage, interviews newsmakers, and reports from the field. Still, when she was a Yale graduate, she was turned down for an NPR internship. “And I’ll remind any NPR boss anytime I got rejected for an NPR internship!” She laughed.

But NPR’s legendary legal correspondent Nina Totenberg chose her own intern, and she gave Shapiro a shot. He told Brewer, “He was always willing. Did I have someone who could go to the courthouse with a tape recorder and stand there in the rain? Ari Shapiro was there.”

After interning, Shapiro was able to land some behind-the-scenes gigs at NPR. But in his off time, he started reporting his own stories. “I decided to treat NPR as a free graduate school,” he said. “And so, I borrowed some equipment, and I asked people if they would teach me how to use it.”

“What did you like about the reporting part of it?” asked Braver.

“I’m dirty, you know?”

world's best-stranger-harper-one.jpg

Harper One

Nosy, and he notes in his new memoir, “The Best Strangers in the World,” that he felt like a bit of an outsider, growing up as one of the few Jews in Fargo, North Dakota, where his parents were professors.

“My older brother and I, we’d go from classroom to classroom with a menorah and a dreidel and we’d talk to these children of Scandinavian immigrant descent about what Hanukkah was and what Judaism was,” Shapiro said.

When he was eight years old, his family moved to Portland, Oregon, where he slowly came to another realization: he came to know he was gay and was comfortable about it from the get-go. “I remember thinking really vividly, the sooner I finish this, the sooner it becomes a non-issue,” Shapiro said. “So, I told my parents, and they took it very well. They said they still loved me. It was a process, but it was a process we went through together.”

And he says feeling like an outsider has sharpened his reporting, whether covering the Justice Department or the White House or spending two years as a London-based foreign correspondent.

Shapiro is married to her college sweetheart, Mike Gottlieb. But she said that when they first decided to get married, she thought she needed permission from NPR. “Yes, 2004 wasn’t that long ago,” he said, “but in politics, in same-sex marriage, in gay rights, it feels like a lifetime.”

“What do you think has changed in terms of being married to another man and being able to go out there and say, ‘This is my husband,'” Brewer asked.

“I think the country has caught up to where we were,” he replied. “But I became more comfortable in my own skin. And part of what this book brought about, I realized that the things that set us apart from each other are what make us more interesting, more valuable, more rich, and those are the things we should celebrate. Should, not on paper.”

Which is why Shapiro now spends his holidays singing with the Portland-based band Pink Martini. Although he performed all through high school and college, Shapiro left music behind. Then, he did a story on the band. A few years later, in 2008, Pink Martini’s leader heard Shapiro sing at a party and invited him to record the song “But Now I’m Back” for the band’s album “Spender in the Grass”:

Pink Martini – But Now I’m Back by nnigani on YouTube

And, Shapiro notes, even though he’s sung to huge audiences around the world, “when you say, ‘Oh, you’re a serious journalist who sings with a band,’ there’s a part of me that still shudders a little bit. And I like to say that to myself. , ‘Ari, snap out of it! Don’t cry, be proud! You’re singing at the Hollywood Bowl! You’re singing at Carnegie Hall!'”


Ari Shapiro, performing with the band Pink Martini.

CBS News

But Pink Martini isn’t Shapiro’s only side hustle. She also starred in Cabaret alongside Tony Award winner Alan Cummings, known for his work in theater, film and television. The two had known each other for some time when Cumming pitched the idea to Shapiro. “And I stopped and I turned to him and I said, ‘Alan, don’t joke about it, because I’m going to take you on it!'”

Cumming recalled, “The next morning, I called him and said, ‘I still want to say this. I still want to do the show with you!'”

They call this act Ouch and Woe! (“Och” is a Scottish version of “Oy”)

Alan Cummings and Ari Shapiro: Ouch and Woe! | “Bossom Buddies” by The Cabaret on YouTubehttps://www.cbsnews.com/”You’re the Top”https://www.cbsnews.com/”Anything You Can Do”…

“What appeals to you about Ari as a person?” Braver asked Cummings.

“He is so full of enthusiasm for life,” he replied. “He’s very curious and fascinated about things. And he’s a geek. You know, he’s a big geek.”

“He’s kind of a cool geek, isn’t he?”

“Oh yeah, he’s a great geek! So, I think whatever he does is really what he wants to do. And I think he’s figuring that out right now.”

But at this point, Ari Shapiro says he has only one goal for all the different aspects of his work: “Whether I’m singing to thousands of listeners, or broadcasting on the radio to someone sitting alone in their driveway, I want to give. A reason for someone to listen.” .”

Read an excerpt: “The Best Strangers in the World” by Ari Shapiro

For more information:

Story produced by Jay Karnis. Editor: George Pozderek.

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