Saturday, May 05, 2007

Five Short Questions, Five Long Answers


Merujo, of Church of the Big Sky fame, was kind enough to send the following five questions for me to answer - as part of something vaguely resembling a chain letter, but infinitely more interesting (at least in the episodes that preceded mine.)

Anyway, I have tried to answer her questions as thoroughly and honestly as possible. (And please forgive me for not editing myself more in Question #1.)

If you'd like to continue the interview chain, please see the end of this post.

1. How did you determine you wanted a career in radio? What was your first on-air gig?

Um, Ms. Merujo, isn't that technically two questions?

Short answer: I never determined I wanted a career in radio. Just fell into it.

Extremely long answer: I really wanted to be a recording engineer - starting when I was a young teen. Sort of a frustrated musician thing...I had an okay voice, studied classical piano & classical/folk guitar for years -- developed a basic level of technique, but I didn't have the "gift."

But I always loved machinery; took things apart to see how they worked as a kid, fixed things that were broken, etc. Switches & sliders turned me on.

I thought being part of the record business as an audio engineer would be the coolest thing ever.

But at the time there were no 4-year college offerings for music production - and as a good student, there was no question that I would be going to college.

So I decided to study television production.

Even so, during high school I joined an Explorers post at our local radio station (WPAZ in Pottstown, PA - woo hoo!) It amused me to no end that this allowed me to have a Boy Scout membership card with my name on it (Explorers being under the auspices of BSA.) Yes, I am easily amused.

Learned to cue up a record (turntables, my friends!) and run a board. And every week, my friend Carmelina & I would tape a goofy little segment detailing upcoming events at our high school. So I guess that got me comfortable behind the mic.

Like 8 million other people who attended Temple University, I majored in Radio-TV-Film (with a minor in Art & Music.) Also ran the dorm radio station which no-one could actually hear in the dorm or anywhere else (hence no pressure!) and did a radio show pretty much playing only Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, Squeeze, Pat Benatar & Tom Petty.

Seems I couldn't avoid radio, even though I theoretically wanted to work in TV.

In my senior year of college, I accepted an internship at a Philadelphia adult contemporary radio station. I typed labels for the carts (Carts?! Typewriter?! This was a long time ago, folks) and basically didn't speak to anyone at the station for the entire semester. Literally. Painfully shy.

In 1981, Like 7.9 million people graduating with an RTF degree, I couldn't find a job. But I only looked in TV, not radio.

Fast forward several YEARS...I went on a date with a guy who was an intern at a small Philadelphia talk radio station. Radio started to look pretty good to me.

Soon after, I too was working for free on the morning drive show -- with a guy named Peter Tilden (who's been on L.A. radio since, oh, 1988? when he left the rest of the crew behind in Philadelphia. Thanks Peter.)

Anyway, Peter put me on the air, I said something typically inane, got a lot of positive feedback about my voice & the rest is history.

Keep in mind, I had absolutely no aspirations to be on the air. None whatsoever. Completely planned to be behind-the-scenes. But things just turned out that way. And I've been lucky enough to work for 20+ years in a major market without ever being fired.

My two years at that station, "Talk 900," were actually great experience, because the folks running the joint were long-time veterans of Philadelphia talk radio. I learned a lot fast. And I got to do everything: was a board-op, morning drive sidekick/producer, production director, public service director, and hand model (okay, I made the last part up just to see if anyone was still paying attention.)

Oh, and eventually I started getting paid.

2. Everyone loves to hear bad travel stories. What's the most horrible trip you've ever taken? (And on the flip side – what's your dream destination for a vacation?)

Hmmm, well...last year's vacation at the Jersey shore was pretty bad. Nothing like hiding a slime-drooling cancer-stricken cat in a tiny bedroom to make for a fun time. So, out of laziness, I'll just refer everyone to this blog post from last June.

I honestly can't pick a dream destination per se...I'd love to go back to Nevis, where Esteemed Husband & I honeymooned. That's the dream of relaxation - ever elusive.

But it would be wonderful to spend an extended period of time (months? years?) exploring my family's roots in Italy & England (and my husband's in Denmark & Austria-Hungary -- or whatever that region is called now.) Strictly a fantasy, I'm afraid. I also would love to have the resources (and babysitting) to visit Japan at least once during my lifetime.

3. What's your favorite guilty pleasure (movie, food, music, TV, you name it) that you'll almost be too embarrassed to admit to here on your blog?

Oh crap. The thing that embarrasses me the most right now is the frequency with which Michael Penn appears in my blog. But I don't necessarily feel guilty about that...

Um, I actually think Velveeta is tasty. And I could easily consume an entire jar of jalapeno peppers in one sitting with no gastro-intestinal repercussions.

But maybe that's more of a talent than a guilty pleasure...?

Oh yeah -- Second Life. My current favorite waste of time. I never ever expected to find myself drawn to "walking around" a virtual steampunk town, but the appeal lies in the appreciation of the work and imagination others have put into its creation. Plus, it reminds me eerily of a recurring dream I've had for years. Whether that means anything, only time will tell.

And you can fly.

4. If you could switch places with one person in this world for one day, who would it be?

Well, duh, Aimee Mann.

Or Michael Penn -- no-one said I couldn't be a guy, right?

Actually, I'm pretty content being myself. I'm a firm believer that (to a certain extent) one creates one's own reality with what one is given - by luck or chance - and that nobody's life is perfect. Not to say that I'm always happy...but for most of my problems, I've got no-one but myself to blame.

That said, if I could switch permanently, I'd definitely want to be a white male. Not that I don't thoroughly enjoy being a girl -- I adore it -- but honestly, we all know who wields the power in this grand ole country of ours.

Not that it should be that way, not that I want it to be that way, but I'm afraid that that's the way it is.

Just let me add, I'd like to be a tall white male with a full head of hair. Thank you.

5. Recommend five musicians or CDs that you think the whole world should be listening to (and for some strange reason, the world is missing out):

I guess it would just be too predictable to list MP's last five CDs, eh?

Here I take the evasive way out. Of course, it's obvious from my blog that I think Michael Penn's music deserves a much-larger audience...

And there are other lesser-known folks who have put out CDs that I've loved. But I'm loathe to name them, lest I neglect to mention someone.

Plus, I can't presume for the whole wide world.

So, let me just end by saying my Esteemed Husband writes some awesome lyrics. Even though 90% of his songs seem to intimate that I'm really rather mean.



1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me." (And make sure I have your e-mail address so I can zap you the questions!)
2. I will respond by e-mailing you five questions. I get to pick them, and you have to answer them all.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.


At May 06, 2007 8:44 PM, Blogger Merujo said...

I *love* the story of how you ended up with your career! You and Thomas Dolby would get along famously - he loves all the funky equipment needed to record music. I'll have to send you a link to a podcast he did showing how he rigged some WWII equipment to modulate sound for some of his tracks. Cool!!


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home