Radio Refugees

Photo: Ken Schles

This week, WNYC is launching “The Takeaway,” a morning news–talk show that’ll be carried nationally by Public Radio International. Here’s Simon Dumenco’s edited chat with chatty co-hosts John Hockenberry (ABC News, Dateline NBC) and Adaora Udoji (CNN, ABC).

How’s the chemistry between you two?
JOHN HOCKENBERRY: I think the great thing about Adaora is that she is new to radio and a lot of times that can be a real problem, but she knows to let it all hang out on the air. It took me 30 years to learn it, but she knows it instinctively, that the audience forgives people that just show themselves. ADAORA UDOJI: It’s a fifth-dimension thing. You can’t force it. J.H.: I really think that, you know, Howard Stern is a model here. A.U.: Sort of.

Who’s your Baba Booey?
J.H.: Exactly! We gotta find a Baba Booey.

Do you think of yourselves as refugees from corporate media?
J.H.: Like in Kosovo, where they were expelled. A.U.: I think for me, I was running more toward than away from something. And a year ago, it sounded like such a great idea to get my ass up at 1 a.m. to do morning radio. J.H.: I think the real advantage that we have is that we aren’t making our editorial decisions on the basis of audience research. A.U.: What do you think about the death of television news? J.H.: It does seem like a Couric departure creates that opportunity. Do you think CBS ends it first?

J.H.: I think you’re probably right. Three years ago, I would have said ABC.

What’s the worst thing about your co-host?
J.H.: I have four kids, I have a real life—Adaora has two dogs, which I have to hear about incessantly. A.U.: I have two babies! Want to see pictures? [She pulls out pictures.] J.H.: Oh, God, I’m going to saw my head off.

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Radio Refugees