Colleagues are paying tribute to NPR audio engineer Renee Pringle, who died Sunday after experiencing quite a few well being challenges in latest months.
Pringle helped form and safeguard the sound of NPR for greater than 40 years. She is being remembered as a pioneer in her area, a prolific and steadfast presence — even on essentially the most hectic of in a single day shifts — and a buddy to many.
In 1979 she began at NPR as one among its first Black feminine audio engineers, at a time when few girls labored professionally in audio.
“Renee joined NPR in an period when our engineers carried cumbersome, 20-pound recorders within the area and every part was recorded on reel-to-reel tape,” mentioned Chris Nelson, NPR’s senior vp of expertise operations. “She recorded and engineered an incalculable variety of area interviews, music performances and NPR applications.”
You do not know her voice, however you recognize her work
Pringle combined numerous items for Morning Version and the in a single day newscast, amongst different applications, and is being remembered by many colleagues for her invaluable technical steering (a number of reporters credit score her with “saving” them early of their careers).
Her work took her abroad, throughout the nation and into the halls of presidency. To mark her fortieth anniversary in 2019, Pringle shared a snapshot of her congressional press cross (expiring in 1992) and a photograph of her and First Woman Barbara Bush beaming at one another.
Whereas NPR followers would not have heard Pringle talking on the radio, they’ve “heard her voice by way of all of the sounds of humanity she dropped at listeners for greater than 40 years,” as voting correspondent Hansi Lo Wang put it.
Pringle additionally served because the technical director for the 26-part, Peabody Award-winning Wade In The Water documentary collection about gospel music, which NPR produced with the Smithsonian Establishment in 1994.
Talking on a 2019 panel concerning the collection, Pringle mentioned that engineering is a number of actually onerous work, however that at NPR and significantly with Wade In The Water, “I used to be at residence. I might really feel it in my bones.” And she or he mirrored on her favourite recording from the collection, which was of the Howard College Choir performing a very quiet quantity (“engineer-wise”) at a centuries-old D.C. church.
“They did this one many, many occasions, as a result of it was simply actually quiet passages,” Pringle recalled. “I might simply go loopy if I heard anyone swallow. If I heard them blink their eyes, I might hear it. And I would say, ‘Who did that?’ They needed to do it over. And fortunately, all people was so cooperative.”
Fast to share her experience with others
Pringle’s dedication to her craft stood out to lots of her coworkers. Audio engineer Stu Rushfield remembers that “Renee cared deeply about sound and was beneficiant along with her data.”
I simply realized of the passing of longtime @npr audio engineer Renee Pringle. Renee joined NPR in 1979, when few girls labored within the audio engineering area. She spent the subsequent 42+ years serving our viewers. Renee cared deeply about sound and was beneficiant along with her data. ? pic.twitter.com/zG34USzw55
— Stu Rushfield: #Kindness (@stu_rush) October 17, 2022
Tom Cole, a senior arts editor who retired in 2021 after greater than three many years at NPR, mentioned that there was nobody else fairly like Pringle, however the two of them shared so much in widespread: She knew his late first spouse from junior excessive, was one grade forward of him in highschool and so they each drove outdated Volvos. However he actually acquired to know her once they labored collectively at NPR, “dubbing LPs within the RCs; mixing on reel-to-reel.”
“Renee had a musical ear — she might actually make a bit sing (a hackneyed phrase nevertheless it was actually true in her case). She did not use an excessive amount of EQ — she needed the humanity within the voices to come back by way of,” he wrote, referring to equalization in audio processing. On prime of that, he added, “She commanded your respect and she or he did not undergo fools.”
Carline Watson, the chief producer of Right here & Now, says it was Pringle who first taught her to chop tape (a course of that regarded very completely different within the Nineties than it does in the present day).
“After I was a scholar at Howard College studying radio manufacturing, our professor introduced Renee in to show us the best way to minimize tape, with a razor blade, and splicing tape, and grease pencil,” she wrote. “After I joined NPR two years later, she remembered me. She was unfailingly form.”
A spotlight for a lot of NPR guests
Many colleagues shared comparable recollections of Pringle’s kindness and generosity — along with her data, her time and her friendship — not solely with them, however with their very own households and company.
Watson remembers that when her niece and nephew visited NPR years in the past, Pringle allow them to sit behind the mic and recorded them, “a lot to their pleasure.” Even years later, once they grew to become adults, they by no means forgot the expertise – and Pringle would at all times ask her how they had been doing.
Wang remembers the kindness Pringle confirmed one among his former center faculty lecturers and his spouse whereas he was giving them a tour of the constructing. She not solely allow them to into the management room whereas she was working, however took time to point out them the gear and reply their questions.
“She made their day with a heat welcome from somebody who helped construct this establishment by way of the many years,” he mentioned.
Particular correspondent Susan Stamberg, one among NPR’s “Founding Moms,” says Pringle was beloved by many, whether or not they labored along with her for days or for weeks.
She got here to know and admire Pringle once they traveled collectively to Nairobi, Kenya, to cowl the Worldwide Decade for Girls convention in 1985.
“She dealt with all of the difficult worldwide audio enterprise, at all times with a smile and a seek for the subsequent problem,” Stamberg mentioned. “The Kenyans we labored with gave her a nickname: Jiri. It meant one thing pretty, like ‘expensive’ or some such. … For the subsequent 30 or so years, that is what I known as her.”
The ‘secret fashionista’ will likely be sorely missed
Pringle made an influence not simply on the audio she labored on by way of the many years, however on the folks she labored with — whether or not that was sending Stamberg birthday notes, mentoring youngsters or sharing natural greens with in a single day shift colleagues.
Michel Martin, host of Weekend All Issues Thought-about, says she acquired an in depth have a look at a aspect of Pringle that many didn’t: “She was a secret fashionista.” It was a little bit of an open secret, although, as a number of others additionally used phrases like trendy and classy to explain Pringle.
There was a clothes retailer they each preferred down the road from NPR’s outdated workplace, and Martin writes that “we would, um, often each discover ourselves there [on] a day … simply, you recognize, often.”
She says Pringle was so conversant in the shop’s stock that she would counsel gadgets for her to have a look at, and greater than as soon as helped her select Christmas presents for pals (and for Martin herself).
“I solely not often labored with Renee as a [technical director] in a studio however in a method I felt she was the half time [technical director] of my wardrobe,” Martin added.
Colleagues from over time say they may miss Pringle’s voice on the opposite finish of the road, her humorousness and her honesty — each with herself and others.
“It was at all times a pleasure to stumble upon her within the halls,” Stamberg says. “I want I might look ahead to the subsequent time that occurs.”