Greg Smith is the composer of four of NPR's most distinctive themes: Talk of the Nation, Day to Day, The Motley Fool Radio Show and Weekend Edition Sunday's "Voices in the News" theme. Aside from his musical contributions to NPR, he spent many years toiling in the trenches at the network. Greg started at NPR as a production assistant for Morning Edition in 1980 and over the next 20 years produced and/or edited many of the network's news programs, leaving the NPR's full-time staff in 1999 as senior editor of Weekend Edition Sunday.
In fact, his first theme for NPR was for the "Voice in the News" segment of Weekend Edition Sunday. "We were developing a segment for the show that would feature the most significant news sound clips of the past week," Smith says, "and I couldn't find a piece of music that would be somewhat serious and have a clean ending. I could hear in my head what I wanted, so I went to my music studio and had my drummer lay out a repetitive beat on the hi-hat and started playing along. It worked. What you hear on the air is the sixth take of that session."
Smith is fluent on a number of musical instruments and has played on and/or produced numerous albums. He has recorded six solo albums of his work and composed a number of film soundtracks. Aside from his music, Smith has worked for Lucasfilm, Ltd. and IMAX Films, among others, as a producer, director, sound recordist and/or post-production editor on more than 50 feature and documentary films.
He now runs his own film and music company, Pros from Dover Productions and currently is a Professor of Film at American University in Washington, D.C. Greg is married to NPR's Margaret Low Smith, whom he met when both were working the overnight for Morning Edition; thus making them one of the first in a long line of NPR marriages. They live in Rockville and have two sons, Benjamin and Jeremy.
Listeners who'd like to hear more of Greg's music can visit his website, gregsmith.net.
Karen Feagins joined WJCT in 2005, and has worked in many different roles at the station in both radio and television. Her love of journalism and storytelling began in the 4th grade when she was named editor of the newspaper at her elementary school in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Karen attended the University of Missouri to study Broadcast Journalism, and spent several years as a commercial television news reporter before finding her home in public broadcasting. She is now news director and head of radio programming WJCT, and assists with the production of "First Coast Connect."
Rick Pluta has been covering Michiganââââ
Ashley Gross is KPLU's business and labor reporter, covering everything from Amazon.com and Boeing to garbage strikes. She joined the station in May 2012 after working for five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.
She studied history at Brown University and earned a master's in international affairs at Columbia University. She grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She lives in West Seattle with her husband and two sons.
One of Ashley's most memorable moments in radio happened several years ago in Northwest Alaska: "I was visiting an alcohol and drug rehab program in the tiny village of Selawik. It helps Alaska Natives recover by helping them get back in touch with their subsistence lifestyle. It was spring, which meant the river was still frozen - barely. We went out on snowmachines to go ice-fishing, but late in the day, as we headed back, the river had melted to the consistency of a Slurpee. It was a harrowing ride and a good lesson in trust - I rode with my eyes closed, clinging for dear life to the woman driving. A week later, three people drowned trying to ride a snowmachine over that river, and that's when I realized just how dangerous life in rural Alaska can be."