When Katie Baker is looking to research a story for Grantland, “Twitter is my homebase,” she says. Still, she gets inspiration from a much older medium. “I’m really, weirdly obsessed — and have been since I was 10 years old — with WFAN’s New York sports radio,” Baker tells me. “I pretty much have that on in the background all day long. If wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep, I’ll put it on.” I ask about her favorite hosts and she names Mike Francesa. Baker’s a Mets fan; we then talk about the crying fan who called into Francesa and then was rewarded with a ticket to a playoff game.
Baker now lives in Truckee, California near Lake Tahoe, so WFAN helps her keep tabs on her East Coast sports. But, does she listen to music on the radio, too? Yes, Baker says, she’s into 101.5 KTKE in Truckee, which is a “really laid-back mountain town radio station” that plays the “same, old Phish songs.”
Since she moved West, she’s been walking a lot and listening to more podcasts. She names her old boss Bill Simmons and Marc Maron as faves before getting to Brian Koppelman’s show, The Moment. He “talks to creative people about their careers,” Baker says.
She can be a little bit schizophrenic with television, having never seen Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, or Lost, while being fully caught up on The Leftovers, Homeland, and Veep. “You’re the Worst is one of my favorites,” she says, “It’s just this really funny show centered around this on-again, off-again couple and they’re just bad people. But, they’re realistic, because we’re all bad people. It was created by Stephen Falk, who used to write for Weeds. It’s different. They aren’t afraid to be assholes.” Where she lives, her internet provider warns her toward the end of the month that she and her husband are about to exceed their streaming limit. That’s when they settle for “regular TV” like HGTV and cooking shows.
In the mail, Baker receives Bloomberg Businessweek — she likes its format, in particular — and Real Simple. The latter, she says, “Makes me feel bad about myself but is also aspirational.”
Going back the ‘90s, Baker has always loved message boards and forums. “Right now,” she says, “I read the legal advice Reddit all the time. I get upset because I feel like I’ve read every single post on there and I’m refreshing it. Some of the stories are probably made up, but a lot of them aren’t. And I don’t care if they are made up because it’s so interesting. I’m always up-to-date on people’s weird landlord problems.”
Sometimes, she says, people have done something shitty and are trying to get out of it. Others are looking for help like, as she explains, “My neighbors stole my dog, what do I do?” She goes on, “There was this crazy one where these people’s neighbors didn’t like the color of their house and, so, when they she went on vacation, they hired someone to paint the house but it was in this weird legal loophole where technically the painting company wasn’t trespassing because they were operating on good faith. That’s one that people think is fake but I like to believe it’s real.”
Baker is pregnant and she’s due in six weeks, so she’s been reading a lot of baby forums. “There are a lot of crazy people out there who are going to become parents,” she says. When she’s researching for work, she will seek out message boards, too. A few years ago, she was writing about the America’s Cup. Baker used to sail in college, so she knows a decent amount about the sport. But, she says, “compared to the people in the Sailing Anarchy forum, I know nothing.” That probably goes for the rest of us as well.