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Oklahoma State University

Robert Smith of NPR’s Planet Money to visit OSU for Global Entrepreneurship Week

Monday, October 8, 2018

National radio correspondent Robert Smith promises a peek behind the scenes of his popular NPR show Planet Money when he visits Oklahoma State University in November. Smith also promises to bring business and economic news to life, to even make it “sparkle.”

Transforming talk about the global economy into engaging chatter is a Smith specialty and the theme behind his NPR show and podcast, prompting an appearance for speaking at events in Stillwater and Tulsa as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. His appearance is sponsored by OSU’s Riata Center for Entrepreneurship and KOSU public radio.

Smith will speak Nov. 13 at a campus-wide event in Stillwater open to students, faculty and staff at 10:45 a.m. in the Student Union. Later that day in Tulsa, through the Riata Center and in collaboration with 36 Degrees North, he’ll be the featured speaker on the OSU-Tulsa campus in a talk scheduled for 6 p.m., followed by a Nov. 14 listener event at the Tulsa studios of KOSU, which airs Planet Money Saturdays at 3 p.m. on 88.3 FM in Stillwater, 91.7 FM in Oklahoma City and 107.5 FM in Tulsa.

Transforming talk about the global economy into engaging chatter is a Smith specialty and the theme behind his NPR show and podcast, prompting an appearance for speaking at events in Stillwater and Tulsa as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. His appearance is sponsored by OSU’s Riata Center for Entrepreneurship and KOSU public radio.

“I'll be sharing the story with Oklahoma State students of how we created one of the most popular podcasts in the world, Planet Money, and how every week we make dull business news sparkle for millions of listeners,” Smith said. “OSU students especially will benefit from hearing how to take the concepts and numbers they’re learning in business school and turn those boring facts into stories worth listening to.

Robert Smith
Robert Smith with NPR's Planet Money will speaker to OSU students on Nov. 13.

“What I love about entrepreneurs is that they are intensely curious about the world around them and are always looking for ways to bring new insights back to their businesses. I can’t wait to share some of the wild stories we found from around the country when NPR tried to get into the new space race and send a small satellite to the stars. I’m also excited to share a behind-the-scenes look at how we find and profile entrepreneurs for the Planet Money podcast. I think people will leave the talk with a better sense of how every business has a story worth telling to the world, if they frame it right.”

Smith is a correspondent for NPR’s Planet Money where he reports on how the global economy is affecting our lives. If that sounds a little dry, then you’ve never heard Planet Money. Smith and the podcast team specialize in making economic reporting funny, engaging and understandable. Planet Money has been known to set economic indicators to music, use superheroes to explain central banks, and even buy a toxic asset just to figure it out.

“The Riata Center wanted to create for OSU students an entertaining and interesting event and we believe Robert Smith is the perfect speaker,” said Sarah Teague, manager, events and outreach in Tulsa for the Riata Center. “If you’ve listened to Planet Money, you know what fun we’ll have when Robert joins us Nov. 13.”

Smith admits that he has no special background in finance or math, just a curiosity about how money works. That kind of curiosity has driven Smith for his 20 years in radio.

“When it comes to audio storytelling, Robert Smith has few equals,” said Kelly Burley, KOSU station director. “Smith’s unique reporting style is at the heart of what makes public radio special, resulting in impactful stories that stick with you long after you hear them.”

Before joining Planet Money, Smith was the New York correspondent for NPR. He was responsible for covering all the mayhem and beauty that makes it the greatest city on Earth. Smith reported on the rebuilding of Ground Zero, the stunning landing of US Air flight 1549 in the Hudson River and the dysfunctional world of New York politics. He specialized in features about the overlooked joys of urban living: puddles, billboards, ice cream trucks, street musicians, drunks and obsessives.

When New York was strangely quiet, Smith pitched in covering the big national stories. He traveled with presidential campaigns, tracked the recovery of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and reported from the BP oil spill.

Before his New York City gig, Smith worked for public radio stations in Seattle (KUOW), Salt Lake City (KUER) and Portland (KBOO). He’s been an editor, a host, a news director and just about any other job you can think of in broadcasting. Smith also lectures on the dark arts of radio at universities and conferences. He trains fellow reporters how to sneak humor and action into even the dullest stories on tight deadlines.

Smith started in broadcasting playing music at KPCW in his hometown of Park City, Utah. Although the low-power radio station at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, likes to claim him as its own.

Click here to register to hear Robert Smith in Stillwater on Nov. 13.

For more information about Smith’s visit to OSU’s Stillwater campus, contact Sarah Teague (sarah.teague@okstate.edu).

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