In just three years out of college, Emily Schario has accomplished a lot. Her first foray into the public media scene was as an undergrad at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts, when she interned for WBUR’s “On Point,” a radio show airing on the national scale. Now the Edward Little grad is a self-described “utilitarian journalist” at the Boston Public Library’s GBH studio and has done everything from “running around Manchester, New Hampshire, in a February snowstorm” during the 2020 primary season, to work with a “small but mighty team” of journalists to produce “The State of Race,” a live-streamed digital series examining racial inequality in Massachusetts.
Name: Emilie Schario
Lives now: Watertown, MA
What inspired you to become a public media producer? As a child, everyone always asked me if I wanted to work in the theater industry like my parents; the answer was almost always a resounding “no”. Aside from a few stints at drama camp and playing Tiny Tim in my dad’s adaptation of “A Christmas Carol,” my acting career was short-lived. However, I’ve always loved the process of storytelling – whether it’s writing scripts or filming and editing videos – so it’s no surprise that I ended up becoming a producer.
I’m the prime example of the baby-who-listened-to-NPR-in-the-car-to-public-media-reporter pipeline. I’ve always been an information nerd and definitely developed a reputation in college for being “the informed friend.” For most of my college days, I thought I wanted to get into social media and digital marketing because it seemed like a safer and more stable (career) than journalism (which isn’t not quite wrong!). However, after doing several marketing internships, it became clear to me that writing concise Tweets to promote a brand was not for me. I had been an opinion and news editor at the student-run newspaper The Summit at Stonehill College for a few years and loved it, so I took that as a sign that maybe I should take a risk and do a journalism internship during my last semester of college. I took the plunge and was lucky enough to land a production intern role at WBUR’s ‘On Point’. . . the rest is history!
How did you break into Boston’s public media scene and what roles have you held since you started your career in 2018? I owe much of my career to my internship at WBUR’s “On Point” during my senior year of college. During my first week on the job, I pitched stories, wrote scripts, researched talk shows, and edited the sound for a two-hour live radio show that aired nationally. At the end of the semester, I was able to produce (and be invited!) my own hour of “On Point” on the senior thesis. My public radio nerd was GEEKING that day.
Working in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment like “On Point” gave me the skills to get into my first “big girl” job as a production assistant in the public library’s satellite studio. of Boston from GBH. Three years and two promotions later, I am now officially a producer at GBH where I create digital and radio programming about the Boston community and beyond. Now, even though my title is technically “producer”, I like to think of myself as “utility reporter” or “news-girl-who-wears-multiple-hats”. One day, I produce a digital town hall with presidential candidates; the next day, I’m putting together some last-minute sounds for “All Things Considered”; the next day, I report a story about college kids in Boston designing spacesuits for astronauts. Really, nothing is forbidden.
Both of your parents, Christopher Schario and Janet Mitchko of The Public Theatre, are creative directors (and former Face Time interviewees). How have they influenced your career and the stories you tell? Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, growing up with parents who lived on storytelling has been such a blessing to my career. Acting and journalism may seem like totally different career paths, but success in either is highly dependent on being a good communicator. In many ways, writing a script for a news story is similar to directing a play; the story or script for the play already exists, but how you tell it is what ultimately determines whether people care. Blocking, sets, scene-changing music, and actors bring a play to life the same way natural sound, video, scriptwriting, and voice bring a short story to sing.
You’ve accomplished a lot in your few years out of college – what’s been one of the most exciting experiences so far? Hmm . . . this question is really like picking your favorite kid so i’m going to cheat and say the most exciting experiences of my career would have to be a two way tie between covering the 2020 new hampshire primary and online production for my plus recent project, “The State of Race”.
Running around Manchester, New Hampshire during a snowstorm in February to speak with the nation’s undecided first voters was, quite literally, a whirlwind. New Hampshire voters are incredibly proud to be the first US state to vote in the presidential primary, and they’re just as proud to keep who they vote for close to their vests. I was also able to produce several live interviews with some of the presidential candidates, including current President Joe Biden, which was great fun. One of the coolest things about being a producer is that meeting celebrities and politicians just comes with the job description. And no, he still hasn’t aged!
The line production for “The State of Race” was similarly a whirlwind; you cut segments on the fly, rewrite scripts, and talk to the host and talent’s ears (sometimes all at once). It’s an hour of pure adrenaline and crossing your fingers and toes that everything goes well. Sometimes it goes off without a hitch, other times everything that can go wrong goes wrong. It’s one of the most demanding situations I’ve worked in, but it’s so exciting.
What are your favorite types of stories to tell? I love telling stories centered on real people that speak to larger issues in American culture and politics. It’s easy for journalists to rely on experts and political buffs to explain the state of our world, but it’s just as important to hear from everyday people who actually live in it.
One of my favorite pieces I produced was during the New Hampshire primary where we discussed with voters whether it was right for New Hampshire, a relatively homogeneous state, to hold so many power to decide who becomes the Democratic presidential nominee. The answers were everywhere; many were convinced that tradition should always triumph, while others believed that New Hampshire’s lack of diversity should disqualify it from voting first. This piece was just simple sound bites that I collected from those interviews, and yet it spoke to larger tensions that we are seeing nationally around diversity and representation.
What stories do you want to tell next? One rhythm that really fascinates me right now is business and innovation. The pandemic has dramatically transformed the workplace, so we’re in what feels like the wild, wild West of work. From millennials quitting steady jobs and joining the “YOLO economy” to working moms trying to regain momentum, this pace has never seemed more important.
While the pace of business often has a reputation for being even and rigid, I want to prioritize capturing a wide range of voices in the types of business stories I tell so that listeners and readers can reimagine this pace as both diverse and accessible.
Oh! Humidity! Wait, Maine’s second wettest year is actually good for something?