Comedy Central show asks: ‘NPR anchor or minor Star Wars character?’

Comedy Central

On Tuesday, the Comedy Central show @Midnight had some fun with NPR journalists’ names.

And while the Star Wars spin is a new one, this isn’t the first time the diversity of NPR staffer names has been celebrated (which is how I’m choosing to see that @Midnight bit.)

In 2013, Deirdre Mask wrote “Why Do NPR Reporters Have Such Great Names?” for The Atlantic. Neda Ulaby and Ofeibea Quist-Arcton get mentions in that piece, too, as does my personal favorite, Sylvia Poggioli.

Sylvia has had a cow in Cambodia named after her, and a restaurant in Salem, Oregon. “Every time Sylvia says her name,” the restaurateur said, “I envision Italy, I see and smell good food.”

Others just like that cozy round way she pronounces her name. “I whisper it along with her when I am in the car — Sil-vyah Poh-zjoly, Rome,” a commentator wrote on a “Best Name Ever” thread. Italian Americans write in to say that hearing Sylvia pronounce her name correctly inspired them to do the same. But could even Sylvia’s name be improved? “Sylvia Poggioli and Jim Zarroli have always had our admiration as first-rate news reporters” a listener once wrote into Saturday Edition. “We feel that the two should get married so that she could be Sylvia Poggioli-Zarroli.” But what if, the presenter wondered, he wanted to be Jim Zarroli-Poggioli?

Mask points out a few things about the people we hear on the radio and their names, including the many women who hyphenate. “Think Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, Chana Joffe-Walt, Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, Dina Temple-Raston, Charlayne Hunter-Gault.”

Mask also writes about the diversity of names at NPR, reflecting the station’s international reach “and America’s own diversity.”

NPR has gotten creative with staffer names, too, using Valentines.

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I’m pretty sure great names go beyond public radio, however. I have always thought Roy Peter Clark was a poetic name. My colleague Sam Kirkland likes the name of our colleague Ellyn Angelotti Kamke. My editor, Seth Liss, suggests H.L. Mencken. Andrew Beaujon apparently has a whole doc with names he likes, one of which is The Times-Picayune’s Littice Bacon-Blood.

What journalist names do you love to read or hear? Send your thoughts to me at khare@poynter.org or tweet them @kristenhare and I’ll try and get a great name post together. (By the way, Kristen Hare is my maiden name. Legally, I am Kristen Jairam. Hare-Jairam just didn’t sing. This way I can still say, “you know, like the rabbit,” when people ask how to spell Hare.)

h/t Eric Deggans

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