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The Mystery of the Missing Interview Tapes

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“Hmm… where’s the car?”

When I asked my Times colleague Rachel Quester this question, I could feel the panic rising. It was left.

It was a Wednesday in late October, and Rachel and I were in Wisconsin working on an episode of The Daily about the future of democracy leading up to the 2022 midterm elections. As the show’s producer, she sometimes edits and cuts studio interviews with Times reporters on breaking news, or ventures into the world to create her own field reports.

Just stopped in Milwaukee for dinner after a day of debriefing. A highlight was interviews with voters who spoke out about their questions about the election process. For our episode, we wanted to explore the evolution of electoral skepticism in states. We knew our interview would bring an essential and personal dimension to that story.

Then Rachel and I left the restaurant. And then I saw that the rental car was gone.

We carved out the possibilities. Stolen? Towing? We went back to the restaurant and asked for security footage.

The restaurant host informed me that Kias has been stolen left and right in Milwaukee.Rachel and I later learned Some pre-2021 Kias (and Hyundais) have such leaky security that a USB cable alone could harden them.. of 66% in 2021 of vehicle theft In cities involving Kiaz and Hyundai.

Suddenly, I was faced with logistical headaches, such as filing a report with the police, dealing with a rental car company, and figuring out how to get back to my hotel. However, one of the biggest challenges emerged for him. I had an audio file of that slam-dunk report day in my trunk.

We were just over a week away from our reveal date, Election Day, November 8th. Rachel left for New York and I went home to Illinois feeling heavy, knowing that we didn’t have much time to mourn over our lost files. We reached out to her source to see if she could redo the interview, and thankfully she agreed to meet again the following Monday.

However, I knew this wasn’t the ideal solution. The new interview is not as candid as the first. We wanted the original tapes back.

I called the car rental company to see if they could find my car using a GPS tracker. I emailed the police department about the security footage. Nothing seemed to change the simple fact that we had to wait.

Then on Friday afternoon, I learned that law enforcement had recovered the car. But along with the good news, there was also bad news. The car rental company wanted to collect and fix the car before I collected my belongings.

The weekend that followed was flooded with even more calls. I worked with the deputy sheriff who recovered the car to see if he could persuade the car rental agency to let me in the trunk.

Then Monday rolled around. When Rachel flew back to Wisconsin, I decided to file my case again with the Sheriff’s Department before the rescheduled interview. As I was driving to Milwaukee, my lieutenant called me with good news. The car rental company finally let us in the trunk.

When the lieutenant and I arrived at the detention center, I saw what had happened. The backseat window in our car had been smashed. The steering column was torn. And our bags in the trunk had been ransacked.

Rachel and I used two audio recorders. One to record the questions and one to capture the interviewee’s answers. You can live without the first story, but if you don’t get the interviewee’s side of the conversation, you’ll have to interview her again.

After sifting through the trunk, only one recorder was found. I took out the memory card, put it in my laptop, and heard exactly what I wanted to hear: voters.

Eight days later, we published the episode.

Audio producers perform a variety of roles, from pitching stories and writing scripts to creating episodes with archival footage and music. But at a more basic level, your job is to keep the episodes from falling apart. increase. Now I’m adding “Watch out for rental cars” to the list.

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