Dix Hills, New York
Tell us about your professional experience and background:
I still remember the time in first grade when my classmates and I had to confront one of life’s more challenging questions: “What do you want to be when you grow up.”
We had to color in our construction paper cutout teddy bear with the profession we had in mind. There were doctors and policemen, singers and presidents, and mine, a McDonald’s manager. While others wanted to change the world or help people, I simply wanted to help myself to chicken nuggets and Happy Meals.
Later, I missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime—to sell Cutco cutlery to friends, family and associates in my younger years. Instead, I worked for a marketing company where I spent two weeks soliciting people in front of supermarkets and strip malls asking them if they were interested in discounted deals for paintball or discounted cruise line tours around New York City. This was one of the best jobs I’ve ever taken because it forced me out of my comfort zone and I’ve yet to return.
Being a reporter never really crossed my mind, despite the Sunday ritual of watching
“60 Minutes” with Mom and Dad or reading the paper every morning, at least until I took a few journalism classes at Stony Brook University. I was drawn to the pursuit of curiosity and can’t see myself doing anything else.
However, after some stints at newspapers and magazines, an opportunity at Flipboard presented itself and I joined the startup working on the editorial team. I spent four years there helping shape its voice, news practices and processes, but I missed the thrills, trials and tribulations of reporting.
The podcasting renaissance was just starting to take off and I really admired how creative and experimental the space was when it came to storytelling. I didn’t have a “traditional” background in radio, but I wanted in.
So I started my own podcast called Some Noise. It’s a show about the foolish pursuit of life, clarity and context. It focuses on people who find conviction in life that challenges the status quo. It just celebrated its one-year anniversary and I am now working tirelessly to make sure it has many more anniversaries to celebrate.
What’s playing on your radio/streaming service right now?
Music-wise: A one-hour Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan song.
Radio-wise: Home of the Brave. Scott Carrier. He’s like the best.
What’s a podcast you’ve just learned about?
This Is Actually Happening.
What do you think about it?
It’s gripping, minimalistic, provocative, well-produced and insightful. Seriously, if you haven’t come across this show, stop what you’re doing and listen.
What’s the best piece you’ve ever heard?
“Best” is always changing—but these are some stories that have stuck with me throughout course of time:
What drew you to radio?
The creativity, experimentation and Wild West approach to storytelling. It’s like a national park or wildlife preserve—it’s truly one of the last spaces of media that has yet to be completely overwhelmed by advertising or riddled with pop-ups and distractions.
Hopefully, it stays that way.
What are you looking to learn about your craft?
Everything. From mic placement and sound design to reaching larger audiences, I’m just trying to take it one day and 20 mistakes at a time.
What piece of audio do you love to share with others?
Jay Allison and Viki Merrick—“Hit the Road“
I’ll probably listen to this episode two or three times a year. It’s always served as a helpful course corrector, palate cleanser and/or reminder to slow down and reflect. And it’s just really well done.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received about audio?
When I was launching the pilot show for Some Noise, I had passed around drafts of the first episode to all sorts of people, including Josh Quittner. He was my boss.
He has a storied career in newspapers and magazines and made a name for himself making sense of the Internet in the early ’90s. (You should read his story about purchasing McDonalds.com—and now we’ve come full circle on the earlier McDonald’s reference.)
Josh gives a lot of good advice, but pertaining to audio, the best advice he gave was to get out of the way. Don’t become a distraction. It’s about everything but you.
With audio, more so than print and video, it’s very easy and tempting to interject during an interview, add narration or an artistic edit that interrupts the story or the listener.
Some podcasts have different styles, but I think the rule universally applies, as I’m sure it also does with life, relationships and the ego.
Whom have you always wanted to interview?
I’ve reached out to the White House in hopes of setting up an interview with President Barack Obama for an episode idea about the return to “normalcy.”
I haven’t heard back.
Aside from that, I don’t really have a bucket list of people I’d like to talk to. Most people are interesting.
• To find Najib Aminy and a diverse array of audio and multimedia producers who are at the top of their craft, visit AIR’s Talent Directory.