Carolyn Smith: Pinpointing Pair Of Professional Goals
By Edward L. Blank
Press TV-Radio Writer
| Carolyn Smith is
a no-nonsense young woman who is paving two roads for herself at once.
While pursuing a 10 year ambition to broadcast, she is working full time on her PhD at the University of Pittsburgh.
She's studying political rhetoric in the speech department. Political rhetoric, she explained, is an investigation of the way public officials talk about contemporary issues.
She'll complete her course next April, then write her dissertation.
Carolyn, 24 last week, co-hosts "Pinpoint - Counterpoint" with Lynn Hinds on KQV from midnight to 6 a.m. Mondays (late Sundays).
It's the two-way talk show in the city that seems consistently to offer the most stimulating conversation and attract the most intelligent callers.
Though dabbling often in controversial issues, Carolyn, Lynn and their largely student - listenership manage to make the discussions informative and absorbing without resorting to offense and reducing the verbal exchanges to brickbats.
Carolyn's participation in the show originated last November when it moved from Sunday mornings to nights. Lynn was taking several of the same courses toward his doctorate at Pitt and looking for someone to co-host his program.
Getting his invitation to go on the air, Carolyn said, was the classic case of being in the right place at the right time.
Single and living in Oakland, Carolyn was born and raised in Portland, Ind.
She chose George Washington University, Washington, D.C., for he undergraduate studies because, among other reasons, "I decided it was time to get out of the Midwest.
"I'd always had little girl kind of back country dreams of going east, and my parents agreed, so I went to G.W."
| She was a debater
there, which resulted in her later becoming an associate director of
forensics at Pitt, which is also where she got her master's.
As much as she'd prefer to make a career of broadcasting, Carolyn's taking no chances in a medium where one's future is perpetually dubious.
The doctorate will give her a background for teaching on the college level should nothing materialize on the air.
"Pinpoint - Counterpoint" is the ideal program for a woman like her who wishes to avoid the pigeon - holes to which women broadcasters are usually delegated.
She wants no part of the routine women's feature reporting. "I think maybe starting out with a talk program is a good thing to get disassociated from that sort of thing," she said.
Always answering articulately with remarks that invariably inspired questions of their own, Carolyn spoke of her difficulty at first at being accepted on a show involved with topical issues.
"When I started on 'Pinpoint - Counterpoint,' I'd say something about an issue and people would ignore me.
"But doing it since November I've been able to establish some credibility, and people are more willing to buy some of what I say.
"It's sheer exposure, I think. In broadcasting, it's not enough to know what you're doing. You've got to convince other people that you know, too, and I think that's the most difficult thing to face, especially as a woman.
"I suppose anybody doing a new show has to establish an audience, and I was lucky starting with Lynn."
She co-wrote with him an article on President Richard Nixon that was printed in The Nation. Being published helps advancement in the academic world, so this
|was another step toward building a foundation
in the field of education.
They're revising a second article on the rhetoric of secrecy, how government officials use the appeal for secrecy and it's impact on the public.
Carolyn also conducts preliminary interviews for one of Lynn's two TV programs, "Profile." She talks with the subjects for and hour to and hour-and-a half.
She begins the interviews with a set of questions, which she narrows down continually until they produce the concise responses she's after. When Lynn goes on the air with the guest, he's able to use, for example, the fourth version of Carolyn's question to get to the point immediately.
At first they tried conducting these preliminaries together, but discovered guests would tend then to think of Lynn as already knowing the answers to certain questions, and such guests would then reword their answers in an awkward fashion on the air.
Serious, but not intense, in her own role as interviewee, Carolyn displayed a continually more whimsical attitude toward the lighter aspects of her work and study.
For one who obviously has an image of herself which she projects with irregular ease, her sense of humor is curiously close to the surface.
It's an unusual combination of characteristics, with the latter taking a pleasant edge as the conversation progressed.
Her personality was at its own best context for Carolyn's attitude to her twofold professional pursuits. And, with broadcasting's casualty rate so high, Carolyn of all people would weigh the odds:
"'Okay,' I've though, 'if I don't make it then what do I do?' But I've got something to do."
It's a self provided cushion most broadcasters would envy.