Every couple of months someone will stop and ask me if I work for National Public Radio. “Do you ever listen to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me? At the end of the show they list off the names of their producers, and I’m sure I heard your name! Are you a closet radio host?! Are you side-lining for NPR?!”
It happened again a few weeks ago, and the conversation went like this:
Beth! Are you working for NPR now?
Are you sure? They said your name on the radio!
Yes, I’m sure.
I’m sure that I don’t work for NPR.
And I am certain that the person’s name you heard is not mine.
Let’s pause here for a moment and talk about the basics of German pronunciation. My last name is KNOBBE, and it’s really not as difficult to pronounce as it looks.
Most people (with the exception of customs agents in the Frankfort airport) assume that the letter K is silent, like Knock or Knife or Knob. That would be logical, but it’s wrong. As I often explain, “It’s a German thing.” My last name begins with a hard-K sound, like Kitchen, Keys, Kettle, or Kite.
Better yet, think about how you would pronounce conniption fit (which is how I react when telemarketers call), or the word sour kraut where you pronounce both the K and the R. Those first few letters are rolled together into one sound.
In recent decades, people ask if I’m related to Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi from Star Wars. I claim that he is my third cousin twice removed. (Some people actually believe me!) I’ve found this to be the most helpful and entertaining synonym! Which is often met with a shower of movie quotes:
It drives me crazy, but whatever it takes for people to remember and correctly pronounce my last name!
So, why do people seem to think that I’m the web-guru for National Public Radio’s hit show “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me”? If you listen to the credits at the end of the show, host Peter Sagal thanks their web-guru Beth. And apparently her last name sounds just like mine!
“She” is not me. Her name is Beth Novey. I know this. It took me months of random google-searches and scouring the NPR website to find her. (Beth, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry. Really, I’m not stalking you. I’m just trying to set the record straight for my friends.)
I do not know the origins of Beth Novey’s last name, but I promise you that her name is pronounced exactly how it’s written: “no-vee”. Which, in quick succession, sounds a lot like “no-bee” especially if you think the K in my last name is silent.
While I’m not sidelining at NPR, I am happy to report that there are many exciting developments on the job front. Including two great offers to go back and teach high school again (thank you, but no…). I am grateful and humbled by the people in my network who continue to call, check in, and forward my name for potential career opportunities.
I had a second-round job interview last week, and hope to have more details to share soon! Unfortunately, it is not with National Public Radio. Although, maybe the “Wait, Wait” team would like to invite me onto the show to play “Not My Job” and have me answer questions about what it’s like to be a Web Guru!
Believe it or not, my soon-to-be new employer has a lot in common with NPR – an amazing, national, non-profit organization, located on the east coast…
Wait …. Wait … Don’t Tell Me …
Stay tuned for more updates coming soon!