The Art of Good Listening Proves a Path to Success

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Photo provided by Connecticut Public
Suffield’s Lucy Nalpathanchil has been promoted to Vice President of Community Engagement in Connecticut Public, the state-wide public media service, with one radio and three TV stations.

Conversations are an opportunity to learn. For nearly seven years, Lucy Nalpathanchil perfected the art of conversation and listening as the Executive Producer and Host of Connecticut Public’s flagship morning talk show and podcast, “Where We Live.” Under her leadership, she and her team focused less on newsmakers and politicians, which was the original intent of the show. Instead, in a live call-in format, she aired segments on Connecticut and its grassroots people, often including stories unrepresented in the media. Her approach created a diverse and sometimes emotional experience. In her newly created position as Vice President of Community Engagement at Connecticut Public, Lucy will continue to converse with people. Although she will no longer be on the radio five days a week, she will strategize how the network’s radio, television and digital platforms can effectively engage communities and local organizations in more and deeper ways, shaping and elevating content, and helping people communicate with each other in larger groups and longer conversations.

Lucy grew up in northwestern Pennsylvania, dreaming in the sixth grade of a job in journalism. Her dream became a reality when she was hired by a local National Public Radio station while a student at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University. Upon graduation, she jumped to a radio station in western New York, then Jacksonville, Florida. One of her many fun moments while there was covering the National Football League’s Super Bowl in 2005, when the Philadelphia Eagles faced the New England Patriots. Wanting to return to the northeast, she grabbed an opportunity to work at Connecticut Public Radio as an assignment editor/reporter and moved north with Jason Neely, her husband and fellow Pennsylvanian. At the time, John Dankosky was the host of “Where We Live.” He mentored Lucy and when he moved on, he asked her to host the show. Throughout her career, Lucy has shared stories on immigration, the citizenship process, education, veterans and the military. Her awards have been many – not only for “Where We Live” but also on her individual reporting.

Connecticut Public is unique in being committed to an all-news format, unlike many of the surrounding NPR stations. That suits Lucy. She loves to talk to people. She remembers the names and voices of people who called into her show regularly, some of whom called on her last broadcast day. One show in particular lit up the phones when the topic was on revamping community colleges to offer courses in manufacturing and the trades. Many people working in those sectors called in, stressing the importance of those occupations. Then there was the show on coyotes. Everyone wanted to talk about their backyard coyotes! Walt Woodward, now the State Historian Emeritus, was a frequent visitor on the show. His memorable moment on the show was when Lucy and he met at landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted’s family burial plot in Hartford’s Old North Cemetery. Rounding the corner of the burial marker, they came upon a homeless person’s campsite, which added poignancy to Olmsted’s belief in public parks and social consciousness.

Both Lucy and Jason, currently the Director of the Enfield Public Library, love history, which is what brought them to Suffield, a town they love. They bought an old Greek Revival-style house on Mapleton Avenue, built in 1859 by Cecil H. Fuller, a tobacco merchant. They have lived here for six years and are as proud of the house’s genealogy as they are of their own. They have researched the census records and shared old photographs of the house with the Suffield Historical Society. The first residents of the house were the builder Cecil and his wife Emma with their six children: Apollos, Hattie, Lizzie, Henry, Jennie and Annie. When Emma died in 1899, Cecil married Helen M. King in 1900, with whom he lived until his death in 1914. The second set of Fullers to reside in the house were Gloria and Franklin, who was Cecil’s grandson. Lucy and Jason with their two children Cormac and Willow, two dogs and two cats are only the third family to live in the house. The wildlife they observe on the property is part of their family too. A fox family recently birthed their pups in the barn, wild turkeys strut through the property and hawks and eagles fly overhead. Lucy enjoys hiking and traveling. She is also a gardener and the house’s three south-facing acres are perfect sites for gardens and conversations.

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