— On the Media (@onthemedia) February 4, 2015
It’s only a matter of time before some enterprising public radio station gives away “I Am Lakshmi Singh” hats during a pledge drive.
Tote bags? So very yesterday.
Current, the public radio newspaper, today reveals what’s behind the social media phenomenon of photographs with people wearing the Lakshmi Singh hat.
It turns out there’s only one hat, which — if Studio 360 producer Sean Rameswaram has his way — will one day make it to the noggin’ of one Lakshmi Singh, the NPR anchor.
The hat came into existence in 2012, when Rameswaram was “a part-time public media employee who aspired to be a full-time public media employee,” he said. He was living with his parents in Los Angeles and angling for a full-time job on a nationally distributed public radio show.
When he lost faith during the long search, he found reassurance in hearing Singh on NPR’s morning newscasts. Canadian-born to Sri Lankan parents, Rameswaram felt like an outsider to the field he was trying to break into. Hearing Singh’s name every day gave him faith that “someone with another weird Indian-ish name” could make it in public radio, he said.
A hat would be a tribute to her. He tried ordering one from Zazzle, an online store selling personalized gear. But the company, possibly deducing that Rameswaram was not in fact Lakshmi Singh, rejected his order.
Tessa Stuart, Rameswaram’s girlfriend, took matters into her own hands and made him the Lakshmi Singh hat for his 27th birthday. “I got the trucker hat in a little shop in L.A.’s Chinatown for $3, and some iron-on letters from a craft superstore in the Valley,” she explained in an email. The letters are a bit crooked.
The hat drew attention as Rameswaram wore it in public. “People love it,” he said. “They’ll stop me on the street, take my photo at a bar, take a photo from 30 feet away.” A photo of Stuart wearing the hat ended up on Fresh Air’s Tumblr.
And now every day, a picture of the hat being worn by a different public radio person ends up on Instagram, but none of them is named Lakshmi Singh.