Susan Nabors was a stay-at-home mom in a Maryland suburb, happy to be raising her children but also itching to find ways to utilize the knowledge she gained from her Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree and her experience as an architectural historian. For intellectual stimulation, she would turn on National Public Radio’s The Diane Rehm Show and listen as Rehm interviewed authors and politicians, artists and scientists.
A friend of hers was an engineer on the show, and she would often offer him (mostly unsolicited but always friendly) suggestions on what she would do to make the show better. At his urging, she started volunteering for the show—writing a billboard of the news of the day, the introduction of the show’s topic, questions for Diane to ask the guests.
“The biggest challenge when I came here was to convince Diane and the other producers that the skills I had from my liberal arts degree and my skills in research and writing would work for a radio show,” she says.
They did work. After a year of volunteering, she was hired part time, and by 2009, she was one of five full-time producers on staff—part of the Rehm team.
“I use my liberal arts education every single day,” she says. “I have to have a broad base of knowledge.”
She loves the work for its variety. “The coolest part of my job is you do something new every day.” They decide each day what the next day’s show will be and start studying the topics and booking people to appear as guests.
The national show airs live from WAMU in Washington, D.C., daily. In addition to creating the daily shows, Nabors updates the website and sits in during the show monitoring listeners’ calls and emails and helping the guests.
Some of the guests she’s worked with include actors Christopher Plummer, Julie Andrews, Edward Norton and Cate Blanchett. Recent news topics she’s researched include the uprising in Syria, the rape case in India and adoptions in Russia. Recent political figures she’s helped bring to the show include Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Vice President Al Gore.
The job is like a continuous loop, she says. “When it’s over, you start on the next day.”