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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Interviewing Yoko Ono

This past week, I did something I never thought I could of done in a million years. I interviewed Yoko Ono. Grant it, it was over email, so one of her assistants could of very easily done it for her. But it doesn't matter. I can formally say that I interviewed the widow of my hero, John Lennon.

Someone like Yoko seems so far away. Like she is from another universe. This person was a part of a moment that changed the world forever. That just blows my mind. Her, along with John, did things and wrote music that made this world a different place. And she answered MY QUESTIONS!!! It is almost like I climbed Mt. Olympus and was able to speak to Hera. 

It's a little difficult to wrap my brain around it. If I can interview her, then I could almost interview anyone. I tell my students that the worse anyone can tell you is no. If you can live with a no, then you have nothing to fear. An event like this, really reinforces that thought process for me. What's to say that I couldn't interview Sir Paul McCartney or Ringo Starr?

So I guess the lesson of this story is don't be afraid. You never know what you will be able to accomplish. I got to interview Yoko Ono.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

PRX...Radio Gold

Over the weekend, I discovered a radio service called PRX. PRX is the Public Radio Exchange, and it essentially acts as a syndication service of radio programs and podcasts. Most of these programs are independently produced. (Check out their website, Such programs that are "syndicated" from PRX include Sound Opinions, The Moth Radio Hour, and nowlikephotographs. If you have SiriusXM, you can listen to the PRX channel, it is #123. Additionally, many of PRX's programs air on NPR affiliated radio stations.

There are two things that I love about this. 1. I can submit my audio work for other people to listen to and enjoy. I have been looking for over a year for an avenue to promote my audio productions. Now it seems that I have found a viable outlet. 2. The variety. Over the past few days, I have listened to so many great radio programs and podcasts that my mind has literally been blown away. Anyone who says radio is not relevant anymore, has not heard any of the programs on PRX. It is great radio storytelling. I cannot say enough good things about it. Please try and check it out.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Unplugging from the Matrix

So I did an experiment this past weekend. I wanted to see if I could go the entire weekend without logging onto Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. I decided to conduct this experiment for a few reasons:

1. I felt for a while that I am becoming too dependent on social media and my phone to entertain me during my "down" periods. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is grab my phone, check my emails and then log onto my various social networking sites. If I am waiting for someone or walking somewhere, what do I do, log into social networking. Even when I am watching TV, I find myself grabbing my iPad and see what else is happening, while I'm watching TV. I think my attention span has drastically decreased due to social networking and portable technology.

2. What am I looking at?! Over the weekend, most of my friends aren't even on social networking. It seems to be more of a "during the week activity". Yet I would still log on and re-read various old updates. What am I doing? And it wasn't like once in a while I would do this. It was like ever other hour. I was afraid that I would miss something if I didn't constantly check. Don't ask me why, because what happens on the news feed stays on the news feed, forever!!

3. I needed a break. I can't explain it. I just felt like I need to get away from others. Not that I was particularly angry with anyone. I just didn't want social networking to be my primary form of communication between myself and my network of friends. So if I wanted to talk to someone, I either called them or texted with them.

I am proud to announce that I was able to accomplish this goal, and much to my shock, rather easily. I stopped at 8pm on Friday evening and did not log in again until Sunday at 10pm. I found that I didn't miss Facebook or Twitter that much. And strangely enough, I found myself more engaged in the activities I was participating in. If I was watching a movie, I was more involved in the movie. If I was cooking, I just worried about cooking. It was a different experience not being glued to my phone or iPad constantly checking on my social networking accounts. Kind of reminded me of my youth.

So I think from now on, this is going to be the standard for me. On the weekends, I take a rest from the social networking sites. I would encourage you to do the same. I think you will appreciate things a little more when you are not constantly engaged in status updates, tweeting, or what have you.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What Will It Take to Make Radio Relevant Again/How I Would Fix Radio

I know another radio post...(Much of this, is stream of thought so be prepared)

For the past 15 years, I've been a sucker for the radio. It has introduced me to some of my favorite bands, provided me with some fantastic entertainment, and helped to develop my imagination. Yet commercial radio is in a terrible state. Online services such as Pandora, LastFM, and Spotify have taken a large chuck of the listening audience away from it. Radio stations continue to play the same songs by the same bands over and over and over again. And it always seems like they are going to commercial breaks. For all in tense and purposes radio has lost its excitement. You really don't have a reason to tune in on a regular basis.

This makes my job of running a college radio station extremely difficult. It is not easy trying to teach students the art of radio broadcasting when you cannot provide them with adequate examples of exciting radio. But then it dawned on me. I shouldn't be looking at radio's present for examples. I need to look to radio past. The golden age of radio was exciting, experimental, and a can't miss experience. Now I'm not just thinking of radio from the 1930s and 1940s, (although a lot of those old SciFi broadcasts such as X Minus One, Superman, or Sherlock Holmes are terrific), I'm also thinking of radio from about twenty years ago.

WXRT in Chicago is a prime example. XRT would play underground music on a regular basis. It was XRT that first introduced me to bands such as Wilco, Sufjan Stevens, and The Flaming Lips. Now a days it is rather hard to find XRT playing that unknown band about to break it big. In order for radio to survive, it needs to be fearless in the bands they play. Radio cannot be afraid to play music no one has heard of. They need to re-embrace this! Because even bands like the Beatles or Rolling Stones were unknowns at one point.

Secondly podcasts. Radio stations need to completely embrace podcasting. Why not view podcasting as radio on demand. Podcasting is a forum that allows you to be completely experimental. Because of this, there are some really great podcasts out there. My personal favorite podcast from the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) and is called WireTap. Some other great podcasts include The Nerdist, The Art of Wrestling with Colt Cabana, and This American Life. One day I hope that someone could use podcasting as a way to create new radio theater play.

Ultimately I just hope that radio becomes exciting again. There is no reason why it can't be. Someone just has to be willingly to try something new and take that risk. Who knows, maybe that will be me. Actually I should use a few of the ideas I talked about and apply them to college radio. Hmmm.....