Ali Shapiro, 44, is one of the network’s best-known correspondents as co-host of National Public Radio’s flagship evening program, All Things Considered.
When asked what he thought was a great story, he replied:
He helps shape the coverage, interviews newsmakers, and continues to report from the field. However, when he was an undergraduate at Yale University, he was rejected for his NPR internship. “And I always remind my boss at NPR that I was rejected for an NPR internship!” he laughed.
But NPR’s legendary legal correspondent Nina Totenberg picked the intern herself and gave Shapiro a chance. She told Braver, “He was always happy. Who could walk into court with a tape recorder and stand there in the pouring rain? Ali Shapiro is there now.” bottom.”
After an internship, Shapiro was able to attend a behind-the-scenes gig at NPR. But in his off time, he started reporting his stories. “I decided to treat NPR as a free graduate school,” he said. “So I borrowed the equipment and asked someone to teach me how to use it.”
Braver asked, “What did you like about that reporting part?”
“I’m nosy, am I?”
Nosy, and as he states in his new memoir, “World’s Greatest Stranger” Starting out as one of the few Jews growing up in Fargo, North Dakota, where his parents were professors, he felt a bit of an outsider.
“My brother and I went from classroom to classroom with menorahs and dreidels and told these children, descendants of Scandinavian immigrants, what Hanukkah was and what Judaism was. ” said Shapiro.
When he was eight years old, his family moved to Portland, Oregon. So he gradually came to another realization. Finding out he was gay, he felt pretty comfortable about it from the start. “I vividly remember him thinking that the sooner we fix this problem, the sooner it will go away,” 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 that we went through together.” .
And he says feeling like an outsider, covering the Justice Department and the White House and spending two years as a foreign correspondent based in London, sharpened his reporting.
Shapiro is married to his college sweetheart, Mike Gottlieb. But when he first decided to get married, he thought he would need to ask permission from his NPR: “Yeah, 2004 wasn’t that long ago, but politics, same-sex marriage, gay marriage, Right in, it feels like a lifetime.
Braver asked, “What do you think has changed by being married to another man and being able to go out and say, ‘This is my husband’?”
“I think the country has caught up to where we were,” he replied. “But I also became more comfortable in my own skin. And that’s part of what this book is about.” It is something that should be celebrated rather than rewritten on paper.”
As such, Shapiro currently spends his time off singing in the Portland-based band Pink Martini. He played all the way through high school and college, but Shapiro put music behind him. after that, he wrote the story with the bandA few years later, in 2008, the Pink Martini leader heard Shapiro singing at a party and wrote the song “But Now I’m Back” for the band’s album Splendor in the Grass. invited him to record.
And Shapiro says that although he’s been sung to huge audiences around the world, “There’s still a part of me that cringes when I say, ‘Oh, you’re a serious journalist who sings in a band.’ I want to say to myself, “Ali, pop out of it! Don’t be shy, be proud! You’re singing at the Hollywood Bowl! You’re singing at Carnegie Hall!”
But Shapiro’s side business isn’t limited to pink martinis. He also performs cabaret acts alongside Tony Award winner Alan Cumming, 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 turned to him and said, ‘Alan, don’t joke about that. I’m definitely going to take you!'”
Cumming said, “The next morning I called him and said, ‘I still mean it. I still want to do a show with you!'”
They call the act Och & Oy! [“Och” being a Scottish version of “Oy.”]
Braver asked Cumming, “What appeals to you about Ali?”
“He is full of zest for life,” he replied. “He’s very curious and fascinated by things, and he’s a nerd. You know, he’s a big nerd.”
“He’s kind of a cool nerd, isn’t he?”
“Oh yeah, he’s a cool nerd! So I think whatever he does is really what he wants to do. And I think he’s sort of finding it now.”
But now, Ali Shapiro says he has only one goal for all the different aspects of his work. Why someone keeps listening. “
Read excerpt: “The Greatest Stranger in the World” by Ali Shapiro
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Story produced by Jay Karnis. Editor: George Pozderek.