Faces Of NPR: Adelina Lancianese

Nov 12, 2018
Originally published on November 19, 2018 12:52 pm

Faces Of NPR is a weekly feature that showcases the people behind NPR, from the voices you hear every day on the radio to the ones who work outside of the recording studio. You'll find out about what they do and what they're inspired by on the daily. This week's post features Adelina Lancianese, a Production Assistant for NPR's Story Lab.

The Basics:

Name: Adelina "Addie" Lancianese

Twitter Handle: @AdLancianese

Job Title: Production Assistant, Story Lab

Where You're From: Mount Hope, West Virginia

An Inside Look:

You're a Production Assistant for Story Lab here at NPR. What does that mean? What does your day-to-day look like?

I help Story Lab Senior Producer Michael May cook up new podcasts and radio series. My day-to-day might mean a reporting trip to New York, structuring podcast pilot episodes, or organizing a color-coded binder of legal documents.

Basically, my job is all my favorite parts of journalism: writing, researching, thinking outside the box, and helping others achieve their goals.

How did you get started here? What advice do you have for someone who wants a job like yours?

I started at NPR as a 2017-18 Kroc Fellow, which introduced me to public media. My fellowship year was jam-packed with new experiences: cutting thoughtful two-ways for Weekend Edition, reporting with the hard-working Yinzers at WESA in Pittsburgh, and delving into some really meaningful stories at the National Desk. I'm often asked by Kroc applicants about what it takes to get the job. There's no secret formula, but there are a few key ingredients: curiosity, open-mindedness, and self-confidence.

What are some projects you're most proud of that you've worked on? What is the most rewarding part of your job?

My dad was a coal miner for nearly 40 years, and my heart belongs to Appalachia. So when I had the opportunity to help Howard Berkes on his upcoming investigation into black lung disease, it felt like a homecoming. Not only did I get to hear the voices of dozens of coal miners, but I had the privilege of helping amplify them.

The most rewarding part of my job, as a Kroc Fellow and now as a production assistant, is being trusted with stories of people from all walks of life. I'm working on a project right now that has deeply challenged my preconceptions, and I'm grateful my job helps our audiences experience that, too.

What's on your desk?

  • Framed photos of my adorable rescue dog Rainy
  • My Mothman coffee mug (every West Virginian's favorite cryptozoological neighbor)
  • A wool shawl (did you know that office temperatures are set according to the average, middle-aged man's body size?)
  • Press passes from some reporting adventures (The Caps victory parade, Congress, a service dog convention)
  • A copy of Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia by Steven Stoll that investigative reporter Joe Shapiro thought I might enjoy
  • Thank-you & holiday cards from people whose kindness I want to remember

  • My massive M&M jar (Stop on by for a scoopful and say hi!)

Favorite podcast?

I listen to Up First every morning while I'm getting ready for work, and I've even timed my routine to be in sync with it!

I'm a big fan of true crime podcasts on my commute: Serial, S-Town, She Says from WFAE.

But when I need a hardy laugh? 2 Dope Queens or My Dad Wrote A.... (I'll let you finish that sentence.)

Favorite Tiny Desk?

I lived a childhood dream when I met Paramore after they performed a few tracks from "After Laughter" — an album that is an ode to young adulthood.I also really enjoyed Fragile Rock, the emo puppet band that turned NPR Music into a moshing muppet fest. (PS: This is my formal request for a Jon Bellion Tiny Desk.)

Favorite places in Washington D.C.?

I'd recommend the Mansion on O Street. It's like an I Spy book meets a Nancy Drew novel: quirky, gorgeous, and a true hidden gem in D.C.

First thing you do when you get to the office?

I grab something to drink. It's a toss-up between coffee, hot chocolate, and a green Soundbites smoothie. (Mom — if you're reading this — I promise I'm drinking enough water.)

What are you inspired by right now?

I'm rereading L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series. Anne Shirley is my kindred spirit. Some other inspirations: Dolly Parton, Jeopardy! contestants, Mister Rogers, my crafty mother, Oxford American magazine, Christine McConnell, @dog_rates on Twitter, fiddle music, Simone Giertz, flea market finds, and this recent NPR story about the legacy of Harry Potter.

What do you love about public radio?

There's nothing quite like being transported to Papua New Guinea by Durrie Bouscaren while I'm in my car, or to experience sub-zero New York temperatures with Brian Mann while I'm cozy under my blankets.

When I listen to NPR programming, my colleagues (who are absolute masters of sound) take me on a sensory experience that print and TV just can't. I wasn't a backseat baby, so discovering NPR in my young adulthood opened up a whole new world of storytelling — one where honesty and artistry aren't mutually exclusive.

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