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Kavitha on Asking Questions

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

“Until moving to the states, I never really thought much about my accent. I was born in Liverpool and raised in Bangalore. To me, it is just a typical convent-educated, urban Indian accent. It is the accent of my sisters and all of my friends.

I feel like I learn more about myself in this profession than in any other profession out there. Everyday, I meet someone new and match what they say with what I believe.

“Here, a lot of people can’t quite place me because of my accent. A lot of people have told me their mental image of me before we met is tall with long hair and white. I have had times when I go out to meet someone for an interview, and we have trouble connecting because they are looking out for someone else. Now, I just tell people, I am short, brown, and have a nose ring. It’s funny, I was meeting a cop once and described myself, and he said, ‘Great, I am six foot four, in uniform, and I carry a gun.’ We joked that we would have no trouble finding each other.

“Before going into radio, my plan was to do television. I did my master’s degree in communications in India and then did a second degree in broadcast journalism at Urbana-Champaign. While in school there, I interned for a TV station and they let me do everything, but wouldn’t let me get on the air. They said that people wouldn’t understand my accent and the ratings would drop. The station encouraged me to learn an American accent if I wanted to get on television. I thought about it a long time, but I knew that people would eventually realize that who I really am was not matching my American accent. I felt like they wouldn’t trust what I was saying, and trust is the most important thing in this line of work.

“I made a decision to go into radio, which was new for me because we don’t have public radio in India. I got my start in Springfield, Illinois, and then moved to Washington almost three years ago. Working as a journalist in this country, I have come to realize how nuanced this place is.

“Because I have no grown up here, I am constantly asking questions about everything. Sometimes, those questions are about language and how English is used differently in America and India. Sometimes, the questions are about how things work here. Sometimes, those questions are about the bag tax and Michelle Rhee. In asking these questions, it gives me a really broad view of this place,  and let’s me see things that some here don’t see because they may be so used to seeing things a certain way.

“I feel like I learn more about myself in this profession than in any other profession out there. Everyday, I meet someone new and match what they say with what I believe. It forces me to always think about every angle of an issue and take a very nuanced approach to things.”

Kavitha Cardoza is a senior reporter for WAMU 88.5. I asked Kavihta to share some of the stories she is most proud of during her time at WAMU. She passed along the following:

Books and Babies:  A Three Part Series on Teen Pregnancy in D.C.

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17 Comments »

  1. Hey Kavitha, I love your voice. It is the best part of my morning. So glad you didn’t go into television.

    Comment by NPR Junkie — February 23, 2011 @ 9:37 am

  2. I have always been curious about that voice I hear most mornings. Nice to see such a pretty face to go along with it.

    Comment by Rachel — February 23, 2011 @ 9:42 am

  3. Kavitha, your accent is wonderful. as is the work you do on WAMU.

    Comment by idit — February 23, 2011 @ 10:00 am

  4. thank you! :)

    Comment by kavitha — February 23, 2011 @ 8:50 pm

  5. She is by far my favorite NPR voice. Even more than Carl Kasel

    Comment by Denise — February 24, 2011 @ 9:57 am

  6. I love your stories every morning, Kavitha!

    Comment by Naomi — February 25, 2011 @ 9:52 pm

  7. I also love your stories and accent. If there was only a way my 30 year history as On Air Program Director and NPR newsperson would grow into a full time positon at WAMU I would feel much better and more alive. Thank you for being you.

    Comment by Ben Smith — February 26, 2011 @ 12:33 pm

  8. You so hot!

    Comment by james — March 25, 2011 @ 3:01 pm

  9. your accent is so cool kavitha

    Comment by george — July 27, 2011 @ 11:14 am

  10. Hello Kavitha
    I heard your news this morning about the School Teachers being laid off although they are being rated the best teachers. We are starting a new business in Ashburn, VA with expansions all across VA, MD @ DC and looking for some good teachers in English, Math. Pls have them contact me @ 703 729 3333 for immediate job opportunities. Thanks

    Comment by Satish Vellanki — October 27, 2011 @ 9:55 am

  11. I love your accent Kavitha Cardoza…I’m a long time fan of NPR and love hearing all of your stories…:)

    Comment by Francine Usanase — November 8, 2011 @ 2:07 pm

  12. I too love Kavitha’s accent…but thought that she was Irish or Welsh!

    Comment by JH King — March 13, 2012 @ 4:02 pm

  13. Kavitha, I miss your voice on our WUIS station – I was so sorry that you left us…now all I hear are the boring accents of the midwest! – Harv

    Comment by Harv Koplo — April 4, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

  14. Dear Kavita,
    I admire your wonderful stories about education in DC. It’s nice to hear such a wonderful Indian accent. Being from India myself, I am very proud of you.
    Good Luck and God Bless!

    Comment by DFrancis — May 21, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

  15. I listen to you on WAMU in Ann Arbor Michigan and I have to say you have the best radio voice. Thank you for your impactful stories they make my commute to work much more enjoyable.

    Comment by HM — July 18, 2012 @ 11:46 am

  16. I’ve read The Eyes of Willie McGee and To Kill a Mockingbird. I also listened to NPR today. I was hipong to ask your opinion about the differences between the two books, but the program ended before I had the chance. Willette Hawkins was a victim of rape and Willie McGee was a predator that was guilty of rape. Tom Robinson in to Kill a Mockingbird was innocent and the woman was guilty. To compare the two books is to insinuate that Willie McGee was on trial for a crime he did not commit. He admitted to the rape. Another big discrepancy is that Atticus was a man of integrity that didn’t lie to make his case. According to your book, Willie McGee’s defense and the communist party made up lies and turned it into a civil rights case which overshadowed his crime. The meshing of civil rights with the violence of rape is so unfair to those that support civil rights. How do you feel about that? Is it fair to African Americans that a man with no integrity is used to represent their fight? I believe it is such an injustice to all of the African American men with true integrity.A third thought comes to mind. Many drunks do not rape. Many rapists aren’t drunks. After all of your research, do you think Willie McGee raped others before he was caught? Rape is an act of violence. Did you get any ideas of what Willie McGee was so angry about ? I did not come away from your book with a clear idea of who Willette Hawkins was or how her husband dealt with all of this. What was her life like before and after? I’m also curious about the number of women who did not report rapes after this in fear of the public humiliation. The more I think about it, the more I realize how much damage Willie McGee and his defense did to hurt women of all races. I’m also left wondering what the other witnesses (the children) in the home recall. They were old enough to remember if they had seen this man before. They were also old enough to remember the night of the rape and afterwards.Finally, why wasn’t the fight about the injustice of execution as a punishment for rape? The lies and multiple stories this man and his defense told forced this trial to become about life and death. Perhaps he would have had life in prison if his white defense had fought the real issue. If men of all races were executed for rape, do you believe this case would have been as big? This was a lose-lose for all. How very sad for all of the pawns involved.

    Comment by Paolo — September 24, 2012 @ 10:45 pm

  17. I used to search for “KaBitha Kardusa” on the web hoping to find you as NPR education reporter. But here you are, ‘KaVitha Cardoza’(because you make it sound so). I like your programs and wonderful stories. Looking forward to hear more on NRP!

    Comment by Sindhu — November 8, 2012 @ 12:42 pm

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