#40 How I Adopted
a Radio Program
Back in 2006 I was flipping around the radio dial and I hit on a
program on Toronto's jazz.fm called Bluz.fm with Danny Marks. The
first thing that caught my ear was his voice which was deep, resonant
and friendly. You felt like this guy could be anybody's friend. It
felt like he was talking to me. I later learned that this is the sign
of a good radio host.
More than his voice there was the music he played, taking me back
to the 50s and 60s. Back then I was listening to rhythm and blues
and thats when I became enchanted with the blues. There was
all that music all over again sounding as new and fresh and wonderful
as the day it was made.
I started emailing him. Danny is good because he works with his audience.
He writes back to everyone. It's a signature of his that he does this.
We got a mildly flirtatious correspondence going, until he found out
how old I actually was. When he did find that out there was an awkward
pause and, then, I adopted him and I adopted his Show and that's how
I became, in his words, the Blues Mama and it all just started with
a friendly exchange in email.
I have a large collection of blues music and I was interested in blues
history. Danny invited me to be a guest on his Show. That was kind
of nervous-making but I made a good decision on the way to the interview.
I decided I was going to breathe and relax, breathe and relax. I would
slow down and just talk about what I knew. Danny is a very good interviewer.
We did some questions and answers, some of which were surprising,
and I just relaxed and talked. We had a friendly conversation on air
and people seemed to enjoy it.
I did over 30 of those guest spots a while ago, with different perspectives
on the blues and covered different sections of the country like the
Piedmont area of Carolina and New Orleans and Texas and you name it.
Friends have told me that our conversations were as important to them
as the music. They liked the banter between Danny and I. He's a bit
of a comedian, more than a bit actually, which made it fun.
Doing real radio was new to me. I wasn't accustomed to being in front
of a mic. I had to learn to talk into a microphone, so I wouldn't
Pop my Ps.and tangle up my Ts, while I was talking into the mic. I
had to learn how to speak closer to the mic and how to angle it to
get rid of those explosive plosive sounds - the Ps and Ts.
I had thought of a radio station as being a glamorous place but where
you do the recording is more like a large closet with different kinds
of sound baffles on the walls so ambient noise is not picked up on
I did not realize how much editing went into doing a Show. We would
do some retakes, not too many because I'm pretty much a straight on
performer. Danny has a tendency to ramble and he would listen to himself
later and say, Well, that's not really important. Let's cut
it out. This helped to get right down to the meat of the matter.
He focused on his guest which is good. Danny has enough ego for
two people but he knows how to pull back and focus on the person he's
talking to. That comes with experience which he has a lot of having
been a performer for most of his life. Dan is a really good guitarist
I learned a lot from being a radio guest. I learned how to edit. I
got a notion of how a sound board works and the kind of music that
worked with the Show and how to talk about things that were of interest
to people. When we were talking it was like two people having a private
tête-à-tête where everybody was invited to join
in the fun.
That's my story about adopting a radio Show and its Host. Jazz.FM
is financed only partly by advertising. The rest of its operating
budget comes from listeners. This helps the Station to be a little
more open than a commercial radio station. I chip in during fund drives
and between times I would with my own self, going in there to do the
guest spots. It's been great. If you need something to do I'd recommend
adopting a radio show.
Toronto's Jazz.FM can be reached on the web at http://www.jazz.fm
and it's 91.1 on your radio dial.