Melissa Harris-Perry: It's The Takeaway. I'm MHP, and we are still giving you a behind-the-scenes look at how The Takeaway gets made with our fantastic control room team. Up next, you're going to hear from our girl, Line Producer Jackie Martin.
Jacklyn Martin: What's up, Melissa?
Melissa Harris-Perry: All right. Jackie is our Wu-Tang-loving say it like it absolutely is member of the CR team. She gets up early to edit and update scripts, send Zoom links to guests, and once we record in the morning, Jackie edits it all, and she does so with unparalleled speed and accuracy.
Speaker 3: En garde, I'll let you try my Wu-Tang style.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Jackie also loves when things go a little sideways in the morning. I mean, it's kind of wild. If a guest cancels or a stand-in host gets sick and she has to find a replacement, regular people would freak out.
Speaker 4: I'm freaking out, man.
Speaker 5: You are freaking out, man.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Jackie's like, "Oh, I was made for this moment." She does all of it while getting her own little one ready for school, and most recently, has added an adorable new puppy named [unintelligible 00:01:21] to the mix. Jackie, how do you do it all, ma'am?
Jacklyn Martin: I do not know. I do it though. [chuckles]
Melissa Harris-Perry: Now, you have an extraordinary background, like all the jobs. Tell us a little bit about some of the most interesting gigs you've had.
Jacklyn Martin: I was in the Air Force, the best force for five years, and they trained me to be a surgical technologist. When I got out, I did that on civilian side for, I don't know, 11 years or something. Then I went back to school using my GI Bill and I was drawn into communications and journalism and production. Then I started doing sports radio. I worked for Howard Stern, which is where I met my husband, and that's how I landed here.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Any differences between me and Howard Stern?
Jacklyn Martin: Oh, my. No, you guys are exactly like-- [laughs] No, it's funny because he's actually super professional outside of his on-air persona. He's very nice and he remembers everyone's name. He's not who he is on the radio behind the scenes. He's a decent person and he's a good boss. I have no complaints.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Help folks to understand what it means when you say you are editing and cutting. It's not a physical piece of tape you're cutting. What is it you're doing?
Jacklyn Martin: I grab the audio files once the guys are done recording them. Once you've had your interview with the guest, and let's say the interview is long, I try to get 22 minutes into 4 minutes and 10 seconds. I decide what's the best parts of the interview, what's accurate because I never want something to go on-air that's inaccurate. I always want you to sound your best.
I hate having notes in the Slack channel after, so I try to make it as good as I can the first time because I really hate when it's like, "Oh, you missed this." That's just my brain being like-- I try to get it right the first time.
Melissa Harris-Perry: All right. We might call that editorial integrity. When you are trying to get a long interview, because sometimes maybe the host went too long and you're trying to get a long interview into a shorter timeframe that we've got between our commercial breaks and you're trying to make sure that things are right, are there guidelines that you use in your own head in terms of what you keep and what you toss?
Jacklyn Martin: Absolutely. I never try to mess with the integrity of the answer. Let's say you ask a question and the guest gives a super long answer but there's a lot of fluff in the middle that people don't need. I make sure I get rid of the fluff but nothing that would change the integrity of the answer. The same thing with your questions. Let's say you ask a super long question that could have been four words. I try to just make it as short as I can and to the point as I can without, again, messing with the integrity of the question because I don't want it to ever seem like I changed what you asked or how the guest answered.
If there's a lot of hemming and hawing and ahing and umming and pauses and stumbles, somebody stumbles over a word and then says it correctly, I could edit that out, but I would never change what they say or what you say.
Melissa Harris-Perry: I'm shocked. Are you saying that I use 20 words when just 4 would do?
Jacklyn Martin: [chuckles] Did I say that?
Melissa Harris-Perry: All right. Jackie also produces full segments for the show.
Jacklyn Martin: I do sometimes.
Melissa Harris-Perry: As you told us earlier, Jackie, you're an Air Force veteran. You served honorably from 2000 to 2005 and that does shape some of the stories that you pitch and produce like this one.
Melissa Harris-Perry: In 2008, Season 5 of The L Word premiered with the character Tasha, a decorated Iraq war veteran being investigated under Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Actress 1: This is really stupid. We should just tell them they're our friends.
Actress 2: Tell us what?
Actress 1: Tasha is being held back because she's being investigated for homosexual conduct.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Thousands of LBTQ veterans faced similar experiences before Don't Ask, Don't Tell was repealed in 2011 by President Obama. During a virtual White House event on Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs issued new guidance to provide full benefits to veterans who were discharged because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Healthcare, pensions, housing assistance, homeless assistance programs, and a proper veterans burial benefit, all these vital aspects of civilian life have been out of reach to thousands of queer veterans until now.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Now, tell me, what is it about this segment that made it one of your favorites?
Jacklyn Martin: I did serve and I served with a lot of my friends. I served during the time when it was Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and people were kicked out. When this happened, when veterans could receive their honorable status, I thought this was such a fantastic thing that the military did. The fact that you can be who you want to be in the military when honestly they were always there, it just really struck a chord with me. It needed to be on The Takeaway.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Now, there's some other kind of bucket of topics where your segments show up. You are a big-time baseball fan.
Jacklyn Martin: Yes, I'm a huge baseball fan. I played softball for 12 years, and I go around the country to see every baseball stadium. That's my bucket list, it's to see every baseball stadium, hopefully, before I'm 60. Hopefully.
Melissa Harris-Perry: I love it. Now, I know that one of your proudest moments was when you booked a former Negro League Baseball player.
Dennis Biddle: My name is Dennis Biddle, a former Negro League Baseball player. I played in 1953 and '54 with the Chicago American Giants. We had to strive to be better just to prove how great we really are. We knew we had a chance with Jackie opening the door, but before then, they had no chance. Being a young man, I got many days I wanted to go back home to mama. I couldn't understand the treatment we were getting.
I said to him, "Mr. Robinson, did you ever think about quitting because I did." He said, "Son, I thought about it every day." He said, "But I had made a promise that I would open the door so other young Black men players would be able to play in the Major League."
Jacklyn Martin: Oh, Mr. Biddle was fantastic, Melissa. He had so many stories. He met Jackie Robinson and he was a joy to book and his wife is lovely. He has an organization that helps ex-Negro League players try to get money that they deserve from the Major Leagues.
Melissa Harris-Perry: You are such a baseball fan, Jackie, that you've even made an appearance as a guest here on The Takeaway. Do you remember joining me back in 2021 to talk about the MLB lockout because you were on fire about this?
Jacklyn Martin: Oh, Melissa, I was so furious because we had plans to go to the West Coast to see some spring training games and we couldn't go. Me and my whole family, we had to-- We went this year, it was fine, but when this lockdown happened, we had plans to go out there and we couldn't go. Thank you so much for letting me come on the air and vent, let's say.
Melissa Harris-Perry: You kept it pretty clean in your venting, even though behind the scenes it may have been bleepable.
Jacklyn Martin: Yes, don't tell my secrets. Shhh. I was young when the first lockout happened, but I do remember it. I recall a lot of people afterwards were disheartened, and they didn't go to the games. My dad didn't watch it as much. It affected the game.
Melissa Harris-Perry: Jackie Martin, Line Producer for The Takeaway, if you could say one thing to either the owners or the players or just the whole MLB, what would you as a representative of the fans say about this?
Jacklyn Martin: I would say, "Sit down, hear each other out, and come to some kind of agreement. Obviously, be fair on team players, of course, but we want baseball. I know it's easier for us to say hurry, but get it done."
Melissa Harris-Perry: Listen, if you all ever doubted that we take different perspectives here on The Takeaway knowing that our line producer is a Yankees fan and that our director is a Mets fan tells you everything you need to know. Jackie Martin, thanks so much for joining me on this side of the mic here on The Takeaway.
Jacklyn Martin: No problem.
Melissa Harris-Perry: All right. Jackie, you have done some exceptional work here on The Takeaway, but even more than that, I got to say mornings are not going to be the same without you. I think maybe it is that surgical Air Force training that when things start going wild all around you, it's like you become a little still center. I just never have any doubt that no matter how overtime, how many extra words I've used, or even how sometimes not particularly exciting and animating a guest is, that you're always going to make it sound crisp and clean and beautiful. It's artistry.
Jacklyn Martin: Thank you so much, Melissa. I think I'm going to miss our mornings most of all. I love The Takeaway. I love the segments. I'm going to miss the entire show, but our mornings were magic. I always felt centered, and even when things got chaotic, I think it might have been the military training and surgical training. It's like radio is not life or death. It's not life and death. It is fun and it's entertainment, but it's information. It's important, and you just have to get it on the air. You have to do it and enjoy it because it's a great job, and people don't realize it's fun. You just have to enjoy what you do.
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