NPR Reporter, Robert Smith. Photo by Lam Thuy Vo.


Robert Smith’s stories for National Public Radio regularly bring a spark to news programs full of “just-the-facts-ma’am” stories. Robert does it by going live — narrating to tape on location. Freestylin’, if you will. No script. Just Robert and the moment.

In reporting lingo, this is known as a “stand-up.” And if Robert isn’t the king of the stand-up, he surely is the prince.

Personally, I find the prospect of a stand-up frightening. My script for narration is never far from me and my microphone. But, after talking to Robert for this edition of HowSound, I may just jump in the deep-end some day soon and give it try.

Have a listen to HowSound and then come back to the blog and check out these links to the full pieces featured on the program.

Coconut Water Companies Sell Image, Not Taste

Candidate Bingo: Is Bloomberg Running?

Bus Showdown: New York vs. Los Angeles

NYC Take The A Train to Honor Duke Ellington

Best, Rob

PS – recently published an article by Robert and Phyllis Fletcher on spicing up short news stories. It’s called “Creativity in a Minute.”



2 comments to Stand-Ups

  • I didn’t know that Robert Smith was seen as a leader in stand-ups, but as a long time listener of Planet Money, I now realize that he does do this sort of story pretty often.

    As a person who has played around with a bit of public documenting, I always feel very shy about asking strangers to talk to me. I’m surprised you guys didn’t go into that aspect of it.

    With Smith’s stories, when he constructs one while talking to people (like in the Bus story), I always think to myself – when he does his little dissertation on the topic at hand – is that person still standing there while he does his mini lecture? That must be awkward. He must have a lot of self-confidence.

    • rob

      Hi Brady,

      Thanks for posting some comments. Much obliged.

      I don’t know if Robert is seen as a leader in stand-ups by others, to be honest, but he sure is by me. Just listen to his reports from NYC after the recent hurricane. Incredible.

      Thanks for listening.


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