Have You Got The Face For Radio?


Before the internet, before I saw a picture of Terry Gross, I pictured her with frosted blond hair, a tan and red shellacked nails. She spent her nights taping Fresh Air sitting on a high stool in a dimly lit room with a microphone hanging in front of her and a sound board at her fingertips.

In my mind, she was a “Cougar” before the term “Cougar” existed.

Competence is attractive. Radio voices, like Terry Gross’, are a funny Rorschach test that tells us what our own brain thinks competence looks like. How did you envision Terry?

I was asked to do a special cartoon just for her when a comics website I was part of was launching and they were hunting for media attention. I remembered my early experience of her as some kind of ideal, and then thought about how she would fit into other people’s personal notions of what sexy/competent looks like.


I haven’t looked up what Chana Joffe-Walt (from NPR’s Planet Money) looks like, because my brain is certain she’s the spitting image of Fiona Apple.


7 thoughts on “Have You Got The Face For Radio?

  1. I think Terry looks like Patsy Cline, but with more modern hair. She has on a twin set and pearls along with a giant pair of headphones.

  2. When I was younger, listening to Jean Shepherd on WOR, I pictured a lean, saturnine Dasheill Hammett character. Then I saw him on TV. It’s often a shock. 🙂

  3. Hillary:

    I have had similar thoughts about great radio voices, and how that must translate to a particular (and usually attractive) appearance. I’m not surprised that Terry Gross initiated this commentary. Her voice is one of radio’s best, and I must admit to being quite surprised when I finally saw a picture of her. But was delighted by your choice of Chana Joffe-Walt’s voice to be part of this topic. I have enjoyed her Planet Money stories since the early days of the Planet Money podcasts. Her voice has a very friendly and approachable quality to it, but also scholarly. I have to admit to having a bit of a crush on her voice. The curiosity was getting to me…I had to look up a photo of her. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn she looks nothing like Fiona Apple. Now Melissa Block is another great radio voice I could listen to all day…what do you suppose she looks like? Once again, my idealized image did not line up with real life. Attractive, but not how I imagined. I guess this is the magic of radio…


    PS: It was fun running into you on the Cape last week!

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