It’s been a great year, the completion of another decade (or start of a new one depending on how you look at it). There’s been A LOT of stuff that’s happened this year, both in my professional career and in my home life that I want to make note of here. What better way to close out the year than spending a little bit of time remembering what’s transpired and looking ahead to more great things in the year to come. Enjoy.
People I Met/Interviewed
In February we brought (then) NPR news analyst and Fox News commentator Juan Williams to Abilene for a special fundraising event for the station. Juan is also an acclaimed author of books pertaining to the civil rights movement and has worked as the White House Correspondent for NPR for a long time. Not only was it an honor to have Mr. Williams as a guest in our studios and speaking with our ACU students, but I was honored to sit down with him and discuss the state of the country, and we talked a little music as well. You can hear a portion of our conversation HERE.
Sam Beam (aka Iron & Wine)
With Sam Beam (Iron & Wine) presenting him the 2009 Golden Fork for Best Song
Sam Beam is an acclaimed indie singer/songwriter. Some of his more popular tracks include The Trapeze Swinger, Flightless Bird American Mouth, and Resurrection Fern. He was the headlining artist for our 2009-2010 Live at the Paramount Art series with KACU. Much credit goes to my good friend Barry Smoot for bringing Sam to Abilene. Sam doesn’t tour a whole lot and though he’s a native Texan, it was people from all over the country who traveled to see him perform in Abilene. I didn’t know that my annual Golden Fork Awards for the Appetizer would result in over 400 people across the country voting for a track he did with Calexico for Best Song, but he won, and so I was privileged to not only meet and talk with Sam, but present this custom made award to him as well. When I gave it to him, I said, “Sam, this isn’t a Grammy, but…..” The expression on his face was priceless. I think he enjoyed it as well as our local audience and time here in West Texas.
I’ve been a big fan of the NBC show The Apprentice since the second season (yeah ok I missed the first one). I really got into it during the celebrity seasons and was rooting for Trace Atkins a few seasons ago. This year was one of my favorites, as regular people who are business owners and have had a tough time with the economy battled to become the apprentice of one of America’s premier entrepreneurs. This season had many surprises for me. I thought that Gene would last a lot longer and I felt he wasn’t dealt a fair hand, especially considering David lasted through 4-6 firings. I was impressed at first with Stephanie who has many talents and abilities but her inability to work as a true team member was troubling. She found herself to be the greatest advantage on any project and everyone else was an utter moron and inept in every task. I was pleased and a bit surprised that the finalists were Brandy, Clint, and Liza. A few days before the final episode (and before the winner was revealed) I had the opportunity to interview Liza Wisner. Liza owns TechieWise, a technology and educational company that serves to provide less fortunate families with technology education in various grade levels. On top of that, she is a professor at Texas Tech in Lubbock. Liza and I talked about her time on the show, her business and her plans for the future. You can hear a portion of our conversation Here*.
Every year I travel to a public radio conference for program directors to learn how to better reach our audience through programming, diversity, social media and more. This year I traveled to Denver and went a few days early to a pre-session with David Candow. For those who haven’t heard of him, he is the top-dog person for NPR and other media news sources, especially in public radio, when it comes to making the best of the best interviews. He was hailed by the Washington Post as “When This Guy Talks, NPR listens.” The rest of us do too. I spent 2 days with Mr. Candow and it was more than worth it. The first hour of our session was worth the entire ticket price for the conference. I learned how to get to the heart of the person I talk with and have more intriguing conversations. It was fabulous. Add to that, David (along with our class) gave me some of the best critique and compliments I’ve ever received for my work. It was a very edifying experience. Everyone listened to an interview I did with classical artist Giora Schmidt. One of the program directors there (from KCRW, a really big station in California) told me later that if their classical station in LA did interviews and programming like I do, he’s listen everyday. What a compliment. I was very pleased to get to meet such amazing people and learn so much in a short time.
Part of my job at KACU involves interviewing the special guest artist for the classical performances of The Abilene Philharmonic. Each year I’ve been able to interview some incredible musical talents. This fall, I was blessed to get to talk with Haochen Zhang, the 20 year old pianist and winner of the 2010 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The Van Cliburn is the premier competition for pianists, professional and amateur. Once you win, at any level, you can write your own ticket. For most winners, the victory has taken decades of training and travel and sacrifice. For Zhang, it’s taken his whole young life. But being a 20 year old performer, his attitude and perspective towards music and life is so much different than the other winners or finalists I’ve spoken with. You can hear our conversation by clicking here.
Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton
While KACU doesn’t carry the NPR program All Songs Considered, the show is still a staple for indie and emerging musicians across the country. Needless to say that it’s what I hope The Appetizer is able to become in time. Hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton talk with indie songwriters and performers every day and their exposure to music far surpasses my own. I was given an opportunity to talk with them a few weeks ago about a survey they did with their listeners to rate the best music of 2010. They named 100 best albums. However, though a lot of the stuff they listed is “indie” by title, a lot of it is pretty trendy. Once you’ve been on SNL and done some network late night gigs, people pretty much know you really well and you’re not so underground. That’s why I asked the duo why some of my favorite albums from this past year missed their top 100. I’d like The Appetizer to be a regular feature on stations, but I don’t want to only feature music that is popular in the popular side of the underground. I don’t want to miss great artists like Bess Rogers, Lindsay Katt, Fistful of Mercy, Trevor Hall, or others like them. Still, I was blessed to get to speak with these guys, and meet someone from another Abilene (Kansas that is). You can hear our conversation right here (and also in the upcoming episode of The Appetizer titled Best of 2010 hour 1 on January 1st).
Prior to the first week of December, I’d never heard of Christa Black. But a friend of mine posted something on Facebook about a local book signing and I had to check it out. Turns out that Christa is originally from Abilene, has toured with the Jonas Bros and is the author of a book/cd combo called “God Loves Ugly.” I had the privilege to speak with Christa and her husband in our studio, talking about her story, her music career and her book. You can hear a portion of our conversation by Right Here.
Other professional highlights
The Appetizer added to 3rd station-KTRL in Stephenville, TX
My radio station was asked to help provide some programming for a brand new station that was birthed for Tarelton State University in Stephenville, Tx. Upon looking at their coverage map and what the new station wanted to do, it was a great opportunity for our radio station to partner with them in delivering programming to a larger area. However, there were some very big costs involved that we couldn’t afford. But……after contacting the station manager and asking him if he’d be interested in carrying a new variety music program, he said yes. And thus, The Appetizer gained its 3rd syndicated station. KTRL is a station that broadcasts news and music programing not just in the Stephenville area but also as far east as Ft. Worth and even into Arlington, which stretches The Appetizer’s coverage into some very big markets in Texas. I’m very thankful for the relationship I have with Eric at KTRL as well as Byron and Jason at KVLU in Beaumont. I look forward to having The Appetizer added to more stations across Texas and other states in this coming year.
And aside from the people listed above, I was blessed to get to do some great in studio and phone interviews with up-and-coming artists from across the country, some that I’ve wanted to interview for a long time including Citizen Cope, Ingrid Michaelson, American Fiction, The Rocketboys, George Pendergrass, and Danny Malone. I also have been very blessed to maintain a strong connection with emerging artists like Jerzy Jung, Hannah Sumner of Hannah and the Bloodlines, William Fitzsimmons, Elliott Park, Bess Rogers, and Lindsay Katt, who now has a Grammy nomination for “Heart Place” (which ironically is the theme song for The Appetizer). It’s been a great year connecting with artists and individuals who are changing the world in various ways.
On a personal note
Bought a 110 year old house and started process of restoration
My wife and I celebrated 5 years of marriage this year and thought what better way to celebrate than to become first time home owners. So we found this gem in the outskirts of town and picked it out. It was built in 1900, and has quite a bit of history to it. So far we’ve done a good amount of restoration including repainting all but 2 of the rooms, scraping tons of popcorn off the ceilings (not a fun project), replacing doors, ripping up old linoleum flooring, and painting doors and hinges. It’s a big undertaking but has been a great experience thus far and hope to install some new floors in the coming months. We’ll celebrate with some dinner parties and whatnot. You can see the progress on the house by friending me on Facebook and by reading my wife’s blog at www.clydewoman.wordpress.com, which is also one of the funniest blogs out there period.