Friday, July 28, 2006


the most memorable sound of the 2006 GRC for me:
a cell phone ringtone that played 'take on me.'


ok, the conference.
within the first 10 minutes of being at the GRC i was approached by a headphoned, microphone-wielding young woman from KBOO in portland who asked: "what can radio do for the world?" what indeed! - i'll let you ponder that one yourself.

shortly after that, made my way to a conflict resolution session because whether you work with a pirate, low-power, community, college or public radio station...(or just happen to be a living, breathing human being) yr gonna face conflict, either as participant or mediator or catalyst. we spent 75 minutes introducing ourselves, then explaining a particular conflict that had arisen at our stations/organizations. that left 15 mintues for resolution. click on this image to witness the mess of conflicts shared.

in those 15 minutes marty durlin from KGNU shared a few excellent, simple reminders about handling conflict. [be open. be direct. make sure there are rules in place to eject (my word, not hers) particularly crazy or destructive volunteers, staff or board members who for whatever reason may be harmful to the health (or lifespan) of your station. etc.]

it wasn't a conversation that necessarily brought any new or revelatory information to the table, but it was certainly interesting to hear (and commiserate about) some universally-relevant stories regarding power, personality and authority-driven issues that others are facing. marty also brought up an interesting point: contrary to popular belief, community stations don't NEED to be dsyfunctional to flourish. no, in fact, playing well with others can indeed be healthy for a radical media environment. an interesting, self-relective note to end the session on...

[more to follow]

madison action

two thirds into the first day of the GRC there's already plenty to reflect upon. which is a good thing, since unfortunately i have to leave tomorrow morning. but before i get into conference / radio stuffs, here's a report of the events leading up to the conference.
this post has nothing to do with audio or radio, it's true.

finally escaped chicago traffic and drove under a variety of stunning skies to arrive in madison just after sunset. joined some old and new friends for dinner (have you ever tasted (or even conceived of) an afghan vegetarin strudel? nor had i, until last night) and then strolled a few blocks to the lake where we witnessed a young couple being arrested for having sex in public (! ). then we walked further to where several dozen ducks were floating nearby forming constellations across the lake's surface. a few hundred yards away some metal band played on a Campus Terrace and i really wonder how the ducks felt about the ruckus. later we stumbled upon a fine old bar called micky's, replete with irish setter heads silhoutted in neon, hanging behind the bar, and ceramic ibexes (ibexi?) lining random shelves around the room.

eventually i made it back to the house where i'd been offered a spare room for the weekend, and where i met a hermione the bunny who roamed freely around the screened-in front porch. he was sitting on the couch when i arrived around 1:30 am, wrinkling up his nose and being VERY cute.

woke up this morning and made it to the conference at a respectable hour and in time to sit lakeside finishing a coffee and blueberry muffin, which i shared with my new duck pal.

as you can see, the trip is already off to a fine start. next up: conference observations.

Monday, July 24, 2006

radio with heart

the annual grassroots radio conference is coming up this weekend, july 27 - 30, in madison, WI. basically a bunch of radioheads from community, grassroots, volunteer run and low-power stations across the country will descend upon the town and spend a few days "figuring out more and new ways of social action, making new friendships and renewing old ones, and creating great radio." Sessions will include: "public journalism: philosophy and ethics," "activism around FCC, censorship and obscenity issues," and of course the ever-present "gender/womens' programming" topic will be covered as well.

i've been to a couple GRCs in the past and i have to say - while i may be considered a more conservative attendee (no, i don't actually think that 'democracy now' is our only hope for salvation. humor! people! a sense of humor can be revolutionary and edifying too!) - i can also vouch for the fact that something really special happens over the course of each gathering. the sheer passion that attendees have for their stations and colleagues is tangible, and contagious, and restorative. and people really really really believe in the power of the radio to make change, and educate, and stimulate listeners to important action. it's heartening to witness and participate in, especially since i spend so much of my time with independent producers who are struggling to make a career out telling stories on the radio, but are doing so often without the firm support of stations or communities behind them. the producers i work with often don't have something to care fiercely about, or feel proud to be part of in the same way i can always sense is all around me at GRCs. and i happen to think it's important to care fiercely.

though i respect, not to mention adore the community of public radio producers i've come to know over the past six years, the public radio system at large feels pretty sterile, isolated and starched compared with the sometimes crazy, often manic and totally dedicated community station devotees. (and of course, it's whiter than white. but that's another discussion for another time.) there's a lot of overlap between the public and community radio worlds, and also a lot of mutually agreed upon separation, but in the end maybe the easiest way to put it is to say that while they both offer invaluable services to their respective audiences, listeners and practitioners, the community radio world proudly wears a certain sense of moxie that's unmatchable, in its own right. simply - it's refreshing.

so, uh, see you in madison?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

paper towel (mis)adventure

if you happen to find yourself at target, needing a new supply of paper towels because the cat continues to vomit up her hairball maintenance food at least once a day, be forewarned: you can only buy them by the single roll...or by the dozen. or the dozen + three bonus rolls. who even has ROOM to store 15 rolls of paper towels? i know, there are other places to buy paper towels, like at neighborhood corner shops instead of gigantic, corporate big box stores. but there i was.

shopping at target gives me a headache. fuming about my lack of paper towel purchasing options was giving me a real headache, in the middle of which my ears all of a sudden picked up on the song "pyt" by michael jackson. but it wasn't coming out of the store speakers, it sounded like someone had pulled a string attached to a michael jackson doll or action figure, over in the laundry detergent aisle. i did not investigate further.

that's my audio story for today. to recap: i heard 'pyt' by michael jackson coming from a mysterious source while standing, frustrated, in the paper towel aisle at target.

the end.

Friday, July 14, 2006

monastery of the moon

this weekend, next up in the florasonic series opens at the remarkable lincoln park conservatory in chicago. take a stroll through the fern room while absorbing the sounds of michael zerang and mazen kerbaj's the fifth pythia of deir el qamar. the composition's inspired by a really really old lebanese village and features zerang and kerbaj exploring as many sounds as possible on their intsruments (percussion and trumpet) in response to an imaginary myth set in the village. the myth features oracles, multiple gods, angry villagers and a monastery, and i suspect the installation's better heard than read about here.

the fifth pythia of deir el qamar runs through september 30th. admission is free and the conservatory's open daily from 9am - 5pm, at 2391 north stockton drive. be forewarned if you're driving - parking kinda sucks around there.

p.s. mazen kerbaj's also a fine painter/cartoonist too, (as evidenced by the image above) who works on cardboard a lot.

UPDATE: it may not surprise you to learn that mazen kerbaj didn't make it over to chicago for the opening of this installation. it's hard to fly out of a country when all of the runways at the airport have been annihilated. kerbaj's keeping a blog about the situation, which you may want to follow.

regarding the installation... it's well worth the trip out to the conservatory even with the possible forty minute parking adventure beforehand if you opt for a sunday afternoon visit and need to drive for various reasons i won't go into here. interesting how in a setting that's lush and green and humid like a sauna, even a dialogue between a rangy trumpet and mad percussion can sound like chattering jungle animals and insects. most fun is definitely watching young kiddos stride through the fern room, trying to spot the monkeys which are surely hiding in the ferns...somewhere...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


this has been out There for awhile, but i just heard of it today and feel morally obligated to share. prepare yourself for, finally, a definitive definition and most accurate description of podcasting.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

attention world cup devotees!

the brilliant folks over at
radio educacion have put out a call for the sounds of the final game of the 2006 world cup series. obviously you'll be watching in a loud, empassioned, excitable setting, right? well why not plan to record the event (mp3 format at 128kbps, mono or stereo) and contribute to in this collective, worldwide (football) field recording?

then give your audio over to the sound library that will be posted on line for anyone to peruse through and create their own audio mix of the spectacle. (imagine: the varied sounds of games recorded the world over [slovenia! iceland! peru! katmandu!] in every time zone out there, most likely under the influence of many beers.)
after putting together an original composition from the recordings in the sound library, then you (or anyone) can send your work to mexico where it might be broadcast and included in a compilation called "the ball of babel."

contact or to find out more about how to participate in the babel, either as a recordist or eventual producer.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

my apologies

a note from a friend living in the catskills reminded me that the steady sound of rain may not be so soothing to so many folks out east these past few weeks. with farms wiped out and radio stations threatened by crumbling dams and all sorts of other damage inflicted, i imagine it's one sound many are hoping _not_ to fall asleep to (or stay up, worrying to.)

sorry for the aural equivalent of a very myopic post.