Getting Personal: Henry M. Radcliffe III
Getting Personal is an email Q&A with a local personality. Here, a chat with Henry M. Radcliffe III, community engagement producer at Illinois Public Media.
What time do you typically get up? What do you do the first hour of the morning?
On school days, Monday through Thursday, I get up at 5 a.m. On other days, I get up around 7 a.m. The first hour of the day, I clean up, drink coffee, eat breakfast and check email if I have Internet service.
What did you have for lunch today? Where? With whom?
I had a tuna with cranberries and pecans sandwich from the Beckman cafeteria. I ate alone in my office.
Best high school memory?
In high school, I had one of my best jobs. I was an usher for Andy Frain, an usher service in the Chicago area. I started going to concerts, plays and sporting events. This helped develop my love for live music and live performances. I saw the band "Yes" perform its album "Close to the Edge" twice in one night at Arie Crown Theater in McCormick Place in Chicago.
Tell me about your favorite pair of shoes.
My favorite pair of shoes is a pair of Birkenstock Athens gladiator sandals, that I still have. I can only wear them in warm weather, but I really like them. My other favorites were a pair of black crushed velvet Chuck Taylor Converses. They were very cool, but they're gone.
What does a perfect Sunday afternoon include?
If the weather is good — juggling, unicycle riding or both, in a park, alone or with friends. Looking in on my honeybee hives during the spring and summer. If the weather isn't good — a couch, a blanket, hot cocoa or hot coffee, a stocked snack tray and a good book or movies or good TV.
Was there one book you read as a child that you still cherish? Own? Read?
"Lord of the Flies" by William Golding.
Where on Earth are you dying to go? Why?
I would like to go to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park or Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall in Japan. I've seen photos of these places, but I would like to see them in person.
Tell me about your favorite pet.
My all-time favorite pet was the Infamous Baby Bunny — "Bunny" for short. We met at Parkland College. I was taking classes, and I met the tiny bunny one morning going to my classes. I went in a side door, and after a two-hour class, I came out and the bunny was still there. I didn't think this was safe for the bunny, so I took it home in a small bag. He became housebroken, learned his name and some tricks and lived almost 10 years. I still miss him.
Have you discovered that you are becoming like one of your parents? Which one and how?
I think I'm becoming like my dad. He has a calmer demeanor than my mother, and I think I'm calming down more as I age.
What would you order for your last meal?
Probably surf and turf. A big ribeye steak, a couple lobster tails, blue mashed potatoes, broccoli with butter, a good wine, crme brle for dessert and some Oban Scotch whiskey from the distillers edition. Coffee at the end.
What can you not live without?
Books or something to read. I'm a big reader.
Who do you have on your iPod?
The Magnetic Fields, Ween, The Cure, Stereo Lab, Kate Bush, Muse, Vince Guaraldi, Yes, Joy Division, Boards of Canada, the Rolling Stones, The Young Marble Giants, St. Vincent, Wall of Voodoo, Moby, The Cocteau Twins, Brian Eno, David Bowie, Massive Attack, Rachel's, Maserati, Mars Volta, Tindersticks, New Order, Sufjan Stevens, Ultravox, Pixies, Prince, The National, The Eels, Andrew Bird, Aphex Twin, Roxy Music, Beach House. I have 9,284 songs in one of my iTune folders, and I have three iTune folders on different computers.
What's the happiest memory of your life?
There were two events like that in my life. Getting back into the country after the 9/11 events was one of them. I was stuck in Belgium from 9/11 until Sept. 17 after being in Europe for six weeks on vacation. It was strange to be over there and not at home. I actually missed most of it because I was over there. The other event was being an African-American exchange student in Austria during the 1981-82 school year. That was the best year of my life. So many new experiences and different countries.
If you could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, whom would you invite?
President Barack Obama, composer Stephin Merritt, director Werner Herzog.
What's the best advice you've ever been given?
It's not what you know that counts but who you know. And it's not what they know, either.
What's your best piece of advice?
Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
What was your first job and how much did you make an hour?
I was a paperboy in Chicago. I delivered the Sun-Times and the Tribune in the morning and The Chicago Daily News after school. It wasn't hourly. It was something like $20 to $30 a month. It was rough. I remember some cold, dark early winter mornings, before the snow was shoveled.
What was a pivotal decision in your career and how did you arrive at that decision?
I decided I didn't want to be a doctor. I didn't think I could have that conversation about why I couldn't save someone's life, more than a couple times. In media most of the time, it's not life or death. I got out of bio/pre-med and into broadcast journalism and never looked back.
Do you have a bad habit? What is it?
Yes, I can procrastinate, and I do sometimes.
How do you handle a stressful situation?
I still try to take deep breaths, count to 10 and relax.