Doing the news on WNRN

So, this is my second week reading the news on Wednesday mornings for WNRN. I've been up since 4:00 AM, and know more about the world then I usually do before this time of day. The idea is to develop three sets of three stories each, to be read every twenty minutes. For me, the process is exhilirating, and gives me new appreciation of what news actually is.

Though I've worked in public radio off and on since 1995, I've never actually done a live news shift. I have hosted WVTF's Evening Edition a couple of times, and stumbled quite badly under the spotlight of the old "kidney room" studio. I knew the topic for each show backwards and forwards, but I need a script in front of me when the microphones are opened up. I stuttered, stammered, and stumbled, panicking on live radio, forgetting to breathe! And, you can't do that.

This new experience at WNRN is even more challenging, because I don't get a second chance to improve a take. If I stumble, I get called on it. And that's such a good thing, isn't it? And boy, are there stumbles!

Today, I didn't do so badly. I read the copy pretty well, and managed to not sound too cheery and chipper while reading stories about death and destruction.

The shift is now over, and it's back to the usual workday.
Tune in next Wednesday, starting at 6:00 AM, to see how I do, and if I'm improving. I'm afraid there will still be stories about death and destruction, though.


Pabst Blue Ribbon to sponsor NPR programming

Pabst Brewing Co., makers of the bargain beer Pabst Blue Ribbon, is underwriting on NPR. Pabst, a brand not immediately associated with NPR’s high-falutin’ reputation, is sponsoring broadcast programming and NPR’s online music series “All Songs Considered.”

This is interesting. I've recently had to switch to PBR, not because its hip in this town, but because I can't afford the beer I'd like to drink!

WINA radio appearance today

I'll be Coy Barefoot's guest for the 4:15 to 4:30 segment of WINA's Charlottesville--Right Now this afternoon. If you've always wanted an explanation of podcasting, tune in, or listen to the podcast when it's posted later on this weekend.


Jim Duncan on this Sunday's Wake-Up Call on WNRN

This Sunday morning at 11:00, Jim Duncan will be one of the guests on WNRN's Sunday Morning Wake-Up Call, along with Matt Hodges of Compass Home Loans. In addition to talking about the current state of the local and regional real estate market, Jim and Matt will also be answering questions about buying and selling homes. If you're getting ready to purchase, this is a great opportunity to ask Jim a question.

If you miss the show, you can always get the podcast from the Charlottesville Podcasting Network or subscribe to the show for free in iTunes.


The joys of an undiscovered Monty Python record!

These days my time-killing habit of choice is to look up articles on Wikipedia. I'll spend hours looking up my interests. I've learned more than I ever need to learn about the lineage of certain video games. I recently looked up the digestive process because despite being 32, the whole thing is a bit of a mystery to me. But, today, all this rooting around on the site led to a piece of absolute gold.

Yes, I've discovered a Monty Python album I've never heard before. The Hastily Cobbled Together for a Fast Buck Album, which has never been released, but is available online. It consists of material that never made it anywhere else. Last night, I watched a couple of episodes of Flying Circus, so it was on my mind. I'm so happy these are being shown over the air again.

One reason I'm so enchanted by radio are the Monty Python albums. My dad had an LP of the Holy Grail album. When I was six and learned how to use the record player, I listened over and over. This was in the days before the VCR, so there was no chance of me actually seeing the film. I don't think my parents realized I listened to it so much, given that there were swear words on it.

I picked up a cassette of the The Contractual Obligation album when I was 11 or 12, and listened to it over and over again. This is the one that's mostly singing, but there's an absurdity to it that perhaps explains why I'm such a contrarian, why I insist on confusing people when I should be courting their favor. I've lived a life of contradictions, self-imposed paradoxes, reveling in obscurity and afraid of the scrutiny that comes with attention.

During the heydey of Napster, I sought out other Monty Python albums. There aren't many, but they were not very easy to find living in Lynchburg. In college, of course, I pretended I had outgrown all of that, when in fact, I became more of a Firesign Theater kind of person. The two groups have a lot in common, though to me, Firesign only had a small window in which they were any good. Python had a built-in quality control meter in John Cleese, who stopped performing when he felt the material was feeling tired. This was the man who knew to quit after two series of Fawlty Towers, and who walked away from the Flying circus in the last year. Eric Idle, on the other hand, has always sought to make as much money as he could off of the legacy of the group, most successfully with Spam-a-lot, which I thought might have been okay, until I heard the album on Rhapsody. Recycled material.

But, hearing this undiscovered (to me, at least) album is such a nice thing to have happened today. There's actually a treasure trove of stuff on this site, and I'm going to dip into it sparingly. There will never be any new Python material, just as there will never be another good Terry Gilliam film. That time is over.

Am I guilty of dipping too much into the well of nostalgia? What becomes of all of this looking back? There's a lot of great comedy on BBC Radio 4, but what about in this country? Who are the great comedians who can make a proper go of it in audio only?


Out of the baseball loop

I don't know why, but I've not given a fig about baseball this year. I don't know if it's because I'm busy getting the business off the ground, or if I'm paying more attention to my family, or if it's because the whole Barry Bonds situation makes me ill. Or, maybe it's because I'm planning on spending all my sporting energy this year on the World Cup.

But, tonight, I see the Red Sox beat the Yankees, 14 to 3. The New York Times reports that Randy Johnson had an embarrasing outing, being taken out in the fourth. "Today it looked like I didn't have a clue out there," Johnson told the Times.

I'm embarrased to find out that Josh Beckett is a member of the Red Sox. I didn't know that. When Johnny Damon became a Yankee, I stopped paying attention. I have no geographic claim on the Red Sox save for a couple years spent in New England in my twenties, but they've always seemed like the team I ought to root for. I was so impressed with Beckett in the 2003 World Series, and this is the kind of thing that makes me want to pay attention again. Anytime the Yankees get spanked makes me happy.

Of course, really paying attention to baseball will have to wait until July. As I said, I'm sickened by the whole Barry Bonds situation, and his unwillingness to admit he's juiced.


Trivia for the Porter Goss Announcement

CIA Director Porter Goss resigned today, and I wanted to share a small piece of trivia. Goss was in attendance at last week's unveiling of James Madison's Montpelier, which I thought was fairly odd. I edited the bit out where John Warner made a joke about him being in the countryside, but if I get a request, I'll look for the sound bite.