Ben Bradford is a former reporter at Marketplace, where he covered breaking business news. He also covered big public works projects and the government-funded stuff that we all use (like roads and water pipes) as Marketplace's infrastructure reporter — although he tried not to use that word on air.
What was your first job?
I spent one summer in high school sorting a warehouse full of shoes — digging through boxes, finding pairs that matched and tying their laces together — for the San Francisco Opera's costume shop. I thought I would never see the sun again.
What do you think is the hardest part of your job that no one knows?
You have less than three hours to find and interview multiple sources on a topic you know nothing about. You finally get one of them on the phone. Uh-oh, it’s a cellphone, and the quality is not great. You ask if they have a landline. They do! You ask if they also have an iPhone. They do! You ask if they can talk to you on the landline and simultaneously record themselves on the iPhone using a specific app and then send you the audio from the app. You talk them through, step by step, how to do this, depending on their level of technological sophistication. They generously oblige, but you worry they secretly think you are crazy. You do this with nearly every person you speak with remotely for a story.
Fill in the blank: Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you ______.
Opportunities that increase the possibility of happiness.
What’s the favorite item in your workspace and why?
I don't usually go in for motivational aphorisms, but I have John Barlow's 25 principles of adult behavior pinned to my cubicle wall, and I really like them! One of my favorites is "tolerate ambiguity," which I think is just key for reporting (and life). Next up: "Laugh at yourself frequently."