Diane Baker was a staunch supporter of the Community Services Center, a nonprofit organization that supports the international community in Taiwan. Diane served on the steering committee, the center’s de facto governing body, from October 2002. In this role, Diane helped to ensure that the center was managed to the highest standards. In recent years, she also took on a leadership role, most recently serving as interim chair.
Diane also sat on the editorial board of the Centered on Taipei magazine. She attended and supported the organization’s activities, and was always present at its annual auction, the center’s major annual fundraising event.
Beyond her official roles, Diane attended classes run by the center. Whenever the center offered a vegetarian or vegan cooking class, or an interesting hobby or skills class, she was sure to be there. The center community is saddened by her passing and will miss her.
Community Services Center
Diane’s voice cannot be missed across Taiwan. Millions of residents and visitors knew her voice from High Speed Rail, local airport and MRT announcements, countless corporate videos and announcements on the radio. Her warm and friendly cadence delivered a reassuring message to listeners. Diane worked at International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT) for almost a decade during the 1990s.
Broadcasting is a medium focused on the power of voices, and Diane knew how to deliver. Although she spent most of her time behind the scenes producing newscasts, she had a sharp eye for discerning what was most important for the audience, and condensing that into a format easy for the audience to understand and, just as importantly, easy for the announcer to read.
However, that is not to say that her time at ICRT was smooth sailing. Diane was a stickler for details and notorious for updating stories at the last minute, often while the anchor was already on-air.
This was a time before the Internet, so the news arrived by teletype machines — automatic typewriters that printed out long rolls of news copy. These last-minute updates would need to be quickly cut from a long reel of paper, Diane would pencil in any necessary changes or notes for the anchor, and then she would run the update into the studio and force it into the hands of the startled news anchor.
For Diane, it was a priority that the audience know the most recent updates. After all, in those days, that was radio’s advantage over print media — we could deliver in real time.
Diane had a wicked sense of humor. She liked to end her newscasts with a “kicker,” a humorous news story to bring some cheer and smiles, such as a DJ in some faraway land who had decided to hijack a tank and open fire on the radio station that had just fired him.
She would often spend more time on the kicker than her lead story — always wanting to make it sound just right, to create an unexpected gem to give the audience a chuckle and lighten the load of another day.
Diane had a keen sense for storytelling, an amazing grasp of details, a pleasant voice and a welcoming personality that all of us at ICRT will miss forever.
International Community Radio Taipei
Over more than two decades at the Taipei Times, Diane Baker edited hundreds of pages, thousands of stories, millions of words, and wrote a large number of stories and editorials on top of it all.
When the newspaper was founded in the middle of 1999, there was little interest in fine arts and the performing arts in Taiwanese mainstream media — in any language, in broadcast or broadsheet.
Diane’s arrival soon after the first copies of the Taipei Times hit the streets changed all that. Her passionate coverage of Taiwan’s arts scene over the many years she served as copy editor, and later deputy chief copy editor, enriched Taiwan’s and the world’s understanding of a flourishing and evolving new Taiwanese identity in the arts, crafts and performance troupes, including world-class ventures such as Cloud Gate.
However, Diane was a much more eclectic and well-versed observer than her arts bylines would suggest. She remained one of the most knowledgeable and experienced people in the industry on subjects ranging from politics to society and cross-strait affairs. Her years of masthead editorial writing for the newspaper across the broadest range of subjects are a testament to this.
Diane was jointly responsible for training new editors and ensuring quality control, which she did with sturdy professionalism, tact, kindness and a temperament of consummate authority.
She was, quite simply, as perfect a colleague as one could find in a deadline environment vulnerable to tension and frustration. Even on the toughest evenings, when things were not proceeding smoothly or when there were heated exchanges among colleagues, she would hold the fort against all challenges, and deliver the product before clocking out and leaving work matters behind for the day.
As the longest-serving employee in the history of the Taipei Times, and one of the longest-serving in the entire Liberty Times Group, her contribution to the newspaper and, indeed, to its projection of Taiwan’s voice to itself and the rest of the world, is massive, and deserving of acclaim and the highest recognition.
Her influence, dedication and decency will be sorely missed.
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