Tell us about what you do at TPT.
I do a mix of traditional reporting, documentary production, and a lot of cartoon and illustration work, which was my initial foot in the door at TPT. I get to work on a lot of the fun stories – everything from meeting the new gorillas at the local zoo to learning about the cool science that’s going on at research facilities at the University of Minnesota - and during the legislative session I do more political reporting.
Cartoon and illustration work, eh? That’s a unique role in public media, please tell us more!
I’ve been drawing my whole life and it’s what I went to school for at the University of Minnesota. One of my original ambitions was to create children’s books, but I found my way into television instead. I like to describe the first job I ever had here as the “Andy Rooney slot” on Almanac (TPT’s weekly public affairs show), but with cartoons, because I take a lighter, often comedic story, and illustrate it. I’ve been doing that for 7 years now.
What has been your favorite story to report on?
I love science and interpreting science. There’s a segment I do called ‘Almanac Labs’ where I get to find a new innovation or technology that’s being developed right in Minnesota. I did one at the University of Minnesota’s Open Heart Lab where they re-animate actual human hearts outside of the body and use them to study and develop new medical devices. That sort of work is fascinating to me. But ultimately, my first love remains the storytelling work I do with my animations and artwork.
We stalked you on Linkedin and noticed that you said you love your job “to an almost obnoxious level.” Tell us more about that.
I feel very fortunate to have stumbled into a job I truly do love. I’ve always had a love for video - I’ve been making spy movies in my parents’ back yard since I was in elementary school - and the fact that I can combine my love of drawing and my love of video feels almost too lucky to believe.
What’s the coolest thing happening at your station right now?
We’re getting ready to remodel our entire building. We’re located in Lowertown St. Paul, which is a real emerging art and culture mecca. There’s been kind of a Lowertown renovation movement happening and TPT is hoping to be a part of it. We’re raising money through a capital campaign to completely re-do our space to make it more open, more of a gathering space, and update our studios within the next 2-5 years to become a more active participant with everything that’s going on in our neighborhood.
What do you know now that you wish you knew 10 years ago?
You don’t have to have everything figured out before you get engaged with the world. I was someone who spent a lot of time telling myself I wasn’t ready, or that my skills weren’t good enough, to go out and try to ‘make it’ in the real world. Maybe that’s something artists do more than most folks. But I’ve since learned that getting better and improving on what you do is something that happens while you work and while you’re engaged with the community, so just get started.
Get in touch with David: @GilletteTPT firstname.lastname@example.org