Getting Personal: Chris Berube

Getting Personal: Chris Berube

 

Getting Personal appears in Sunday's News-Gazette. Here, a chat with Chris Berube, who hosts "Morning Edition" and "The Afternoon Magazine" on WILL radio.

What time do you typically get up? What do you do the first hour of the morning?

I have a weird schedule. For "Morning Edition," I typically have to wake up at 4 a.m. so I can be at work by 4:30. By the time I'm at work, I start reading the day's news. I typically check the Gazette, the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times, NPR and The Guardian for starters.

What did you have for lunch today? Where? With whom?

I made a mushroom quesadilla today, which was great. Because of my schedule, I usually have lunch by 10 a.m., so I typically eat alone. That's OK because it gives me time to catch up on reading. I usually read a short story or a few articles over lunch.

Best high school memory?

I was on an intramural dodgeball team that made it to the school finals. We took it way too seriously: We made a banner and the whole team ran through it. And we made uniforms using markers and blank T-shirts. We lost, which suggests we should have spent more time practicing and less time thinking about our intro music and logo.

Tell me about your favorite pair of shoes.

I had this pair of black wingtips that I inherited from my dad. I wore them literally all of the time until they fell apart. Since then, I've only worn wingtips in formal situations. They're a bit ostentatious, and kind of showy, but I like wearing something a little unusual.

What does a perfect Sunday afternoon include?

A light workout and then probably seeing a movie. I see a movie in theaters once or twice a week.

Was there one book you read as a child that you still cherish? Own? Read?

I think my mom still has all of the books that I had as a kid in our family home. She read to me a lot when I was young, and that made a big impression. I don't really reread any books from childhood because my reading list is already way too long. But I've thought about rereading "Le Petit Prince." That book seems to have changed everyone's life, but I barely remember it.

Where on Earth are you dying to go? Why?

I haven't traveled very much outside of North America, so there are lots of places. I'm curious about India and Scandinavia, but I'm not sure when I'm going to have time to go.

Tell me about your favorite pet.

This question doesn't seem fair. I've loved a lot of pets over the years, including a couple of dogs and a rabbit. Last year, I moved into an apartment in New York, and the previous owners left their cats behind, at which point I was like "Well, these are my cats now!" I fell in love with those guys really quickly, and it broke my heart when the owner came and took them when I was out of town for the weekend.

Have you discovered that you are becoming like one of your parents? Which one and how?

A little of both, for sure. The big one might be that I've gotten into radio. My mother actually worked at the community radio station at Guelph University in Canada, where she went to school. She became a nurse, but she always talked about how much fun it was to work at the college station. I can't help but think that had a big impact on me. I got my own start at a college station in Toronto and have gone from there.

What would you order for your last meal?

I don't eat very much meat, so probably something vegetarian. Maybe a nice cheesy polenta or a burrito. I feel like if I'm on death row, I will probably just want comfort food at that point.

What can you not live without?

I think my iPhone. I send a lot of messages and read most of my news that way. But also, I listen to about 15 to 20 hours of podcasts and audio books every week, partly out of professional interest but mostly because I do a lot of walking and jogging. There are about 20 shows that I keep up with pretty regularly.

Who do you have on your iPod?

It's mostly made up of podcasts. A lot of public radio shows like "This American Life," "Radiolab," "Bullseye" and documentaries from the BBC. I'm always adding new shows to the rotation. I recently started listening to "99 percent Invisible," which is a great show about design and architecture, and the "TED Radio Hour."

What's the happiest memory of your life?

I received a master's degree last year, and my mom and grandmother were there to see it.

If you could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, whom would you invite?

I would want people who are fun, like Groucho Marx or Dorothy Parker. But they're dead, so I'll have to go with a few contemporary writers I love with good senses of humor. I would say David Sedaris, George Saunders and Alison Bechdel.

What's the best advice you've ever been given?

You're under no obligation to eat the whole thing.

What's your best piece of advice?

You'll feel more at peace with yourself if you eat the whole thing.

What was your first job and how much did you make an hour?

I was about 13 or 14 when I took my first job as a janitor in a Presbyterian church. There was only one other person working there, but it was this big, expansive building. I believe I made $5 an hour, which in middle school seemed incredibly lucrative.

What was a pivotal decision in your career and how did you arrive at that decision?

I had a choice to go to grad school for journalism or political science. It was a tough decision between two incredibly lucrative fields with nothing but rock-solid job prospects. But seriously, I chose what I love, and I'm very happy about that.

Do you have a bad habit? What is it?

I don't get nearly enough sleep. I wish that weren't the case, but it's especially tricky when you have an unusual sleep schedule like I do. And YouTube is so tempting when I'm in bed at 9:30 or 10.

How do you handle a stressful situation?

Power through! I have a reasonably stressful job, but it's also very rewarding, and it feels great to have something finished.

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