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Faces Of NPR: Tamara Keith

Emma Newburger/NPR

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 NPR's White House Correspondent and co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast, Tamara Keith.

The Basics:

Name: Tamara Keith

Twitter Handle: @tamarakeithNPR

Job Title: White House Correspondent and co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast

Where You're From: Hanford, California

An Inside Look:

How did you get started here?

When I was a teenager, I wrote letters to NPR personalities asking for advice and ended up being a "teen essayist" for Weekend Edition Sunday. Then I finished college, interned at San Francisco Member station KQED and ultimately got a reporting job there. There were a few jobs in the intervening years, and then in 2008 at the height of the great recession, I quit my last job at KQED and drove cross country with my husband and our dog not sure what would come next. My husband had a job at NIH doing research and a hunch that if somehow I just showed up at the mother ship everything would work out. He could have been wrong. But somehow magically he wasn't. I was brought on as a temp business reporter, covering a little corner of the story of the century. In 2011, I moved to the Washington Desk to cover Congress, and then jumped to the White House beat in 2014 when Ari Shapiro moved to London.

What advice do you have for someone who wants a job like yours?

Work your butt off perfecting your craft, don't let anyone tell you that your dreams aren't possible. If they do, just prove them wrong.

What's your favorite #NPRLife moment?

On the night of the Iowa caucuses, Sam Sanders and I flew to New Hampshire on the planes of the candidates we were covering. Sam was with Bernie Sanders. I was on the plane with Hillary Clinton's press corps and staff (she flew separately). We landed in New Hampshire the following morning around 4:30 AM and I immediately did a live interview with Morning Edition. Sam recorded his tracks in a conference room at the air terminal for a piece that would air at 6AM. And then, we realized we needed a ride, so I woke up Scott Detrow, who was remarkably game to come get us. Then we went to a diner in Manchester called the Red Arrow and ordered a mug of bacon. It was an incredible way to end a 24 hour work day. I got about three hours of sleep before heading out to cover a Hillary Clinton rally.

What are some interesting projects you've worked on?

My favorite project was the Road Back to Work series I did with All Things Considered when I was on the business desk. I still keep in touch with the people I interviewed.

/ Emma Newburger/NPR
Emma Newburger/NPR

What are you inspired by right now?

I'm currently reading Elizabeth Drew's "Washington Journal," about Watergate.

What's on your desk?

Mugs, old press passes, letters from listeners and some cool drawings podcast fans have sent us.

Favorite places in Washington D.C.?

Running along the National Mall.

First thing you do when you get to the office?

Check in with my editor.

What emoji best represents you?

Smiley, though sometimes through gritted teeth.

What do you love about public radio?

The intimacy. The voices we are able to share with out listeners. And the love we get back from our listeners on a nearly daily basis. The fans of our podcast have been incredibly awesome.

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Emma Newburger