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Neal Jackson Vice President for Legal Affairs, General Counsel, and Secretary, National Public Radio, Inc. Whether Morning Edition is as vital to your day as a cup of coffee, or you’ve been known to fix your kid’s Honda based on advice from the popular Car Talk, there seems to be something for everyone on National Public Radio, Inc. The Washington, D.C.-based independent, nonprofit organization provides programming, from classical music to consumer help to news, to more than 600 member stations nationwide. Its general counsel, Neal Jackson, 60, joined NPR in 1996, driven by the desire to do something more “socially beneficial” than his work as a partner in the D.C. office of Chicago’s Bell, Boyd and Lloyd. Although his radio listening habits are the same as most people’s � Jackson tunes in during his daily commute � there’s no “off” switch at work. NPR pipes a program stream into its bathrooms, elevators, and lobbies. We were curious to find out what it’s like to work with a company full of famous voices, and their legal chief � a baritone himself � was happy to oblige. How does legal work at NPR differ from other in-house media work? First, we are a trade association. That requires us to think through the impact of all of our actions very carefully, with an eye to their effect on both our member stations and the public radio community at large. Second, our audience has a huge sense of ownership. We have to consider that in everything we do. Finally, we are a membership organization. Each public radio station member of NPR is independently licensed and managed (and does not have to buy our programming). But the stations and NPR share a common objective of serving the public, and we work very hard to stay in alignment with this core mission. Is there a particular story or broadcast, from any period of time, that has stuck with you? Our correspondent Ivan Watson was standing directly beside a famous Shiite mosque in Iraq when it was bombed, killing the mullah and a number of others. He turned the [tape] recorder on almost immediately � you could hear the fear and courage in his voice. Where and how did NPR discover the Car Talk hosts? It started in 1977 at WBUR, the NPR station in Boston. They had invited a number of mechanics to talk about the subject of auto repair [for a planned consumer show]. But at show time only one had shown up: Ray Magliozzi. They interviewed him and then took phone calls from listeners. Naturally, he filled the show with his personality, and it was a hit. The producer asked him if he was interested in doing an auto repair show regularly. He said yes, but only if his brother Tommy could participate. He explained that he and his brother had operated a garage together before Tommy got a graduate degree and became a consultant. The producer said okay. Susan Stamberg, who was then hosting Weekend Edition-Sunday, was visiting the station. She asked the brothers if they would do a short two-way interview with her for regular insertion into WESUN. They did the interviews, the pieces were incredibly popular, and NPR asked the brothers to take the show into national distribution. The rest is history. Were you ever a radio DJ? I was never a DJ, but I did do a short gig reading the news at a college radio station . . . the classic rip, run, and read situation (rip the copy off the teletype machine, run into the station and then-hopefully-read the copy without stumbling and ending at the right time). Last book read: Naked in Baghdad, our correspondent Anne Garrels’s diary of her experience as the only electronic media reporter left in Baghdad at the time of the U.S., sorry, coalition, invasion. Where can we find you on a Saturday afternoon? On a 30-year-old sailboat on Chesapeake Bay or working with my wife taming ten undeveloped acres we recently bought on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. What is your favorite program at NPR? That’s impossible to answer. Which of your children is the favorite? I love ‘em all.

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