Friday, July 28, 2006

Mamma, don't let your son grow up to be a podcaster - Part 2

I'm doing the Dreamtime podcasts for a variety of reasons. As you've probably noticed once or twice, I'm a fan of Bob Dylan's. The quirky segments he does on Theme Time are right up my alley; there's usually a great story behind Dylan's one-liners and allusions. And before anything else, like all writers, I love a great story.

And of course, I'm deep into podcasting at the moment. I'm making a couple of bucks here and there from it. However, with those I'm in the background as writer/producer, and it's a helluva lot easier to act as a producer and just lead the show than to have to be the show. And that brings me to another reason...

Back when I was at USM in Portland, sometime in the early `70s and me in my early 20s, I was looking for part-time work - as usual, since my GI Bill barely covered school expenses and rent - and found an ad on a bulletin board. A Portland radio station was looking for a part-time newsperson.

I went over that afternoon. It was a country music station. If you're not from New England, you might not know that the rural areas tend to share the same characteristics and tastes you'll find in the South. The station manager and I immediately hit it off. He explained they needed to do the minimum news required by the FCC in order to keep its license. So, it was strictly someone capable of editing and reading stories off the AP wire.

I hit a home run when he asked me to pull off some stories from the AP teletype and put together a 5-minute segment of news highlights...all within 10 minutes. Even back then, that sort of speed-writing was my meat. I'm a natural editor, so I just yanked the stories, skimmed through them, sat down at an electric typewriter, and two-fingered pounded out the segment. I went into his office at minute 6, handed him the copy, and he took it, eyebrows raised. When he looked up, I knew I had the job.

But, there was one last thing I had to do, and I found myself in a sound booth, reading - trying to read - my copy aloud, and I was as bad and as uncomfortable then as I sound now in the Dreamtime podcasts - even though I think I'm improving now with every try. But a natural reader I'm not, despite the speech therapy I went through when I was a kid; possibly because of that speech therapy, I sometimes think. In any case, as a voice talent I'm a great writer.

So, I came out of the booth, and I looked at the station manager, who looked at me, and who finally said, "So, how do you think you did?"

"Like crap," I answered.

"Yeah," he answered. "It's too bad. You know I was ready to hire you on the spot, don't you?"

"Make me feel better," I laughed.

"Maybe you could go get some training, or take some acting classes at school," he said. "If you do, come back, Fred."

I didn't, for a variety of reasons. I found another job, straight writing, no talking necessary. But you know, losing that radio gig has always rankled me.

And that's the other reason.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your readers love a great story, too, like this one. Thanks, fhb! :-) And Dreamtime rocks!