Monday, July 15, 2013

live wire love

Though I am a longtime listener of public radio, somehow I never thought about the audiences I hear reacting to the shows being actual people in an actual venue enjoying an actual performance in front of them. It's obviously an audial medium - I just didn't consider it a visual medium as well. Yes, I have multiple teaching degrees and am in charge of many young people's futures. Anyway.

A few years ago my lovely & socially well-connected friend invited us to watch the radio show Live Wire, which is recorded and broadcast in Portland [but now syndicated across the country - tune in!]. I pictured us sitting in a cramped room staring at people wearing gigantic headphones leaning into microphones to deliver lines. Okay, I there wine? I'm in.

The first time we went, I had no idea who any of the guests were. None. Yet it was one of the funniest, most interesting & engaging & satisfying experiences I've ever had in public. We promptly bought tickets for the next recording featuring Storm Large, Dan Savage, and Stephanie Schneider; it was incredible. There are expertly written & delivered comedy skits, songs from often little-known (though sometimes wildly known - The Dandy Warhols - or well-known artists joining other groups) but immensely talented musicians, plus interviews with authors or activists or politicians or businesspeople or actors. And aside from the actual performances, the best part of watching a radio show is hearing the off-tape asides and watching the do-overs, which almost always include lots of good-natured swearing.

To be clear, it is not in a cramped room - though the theater is comfortably intimate - and the participants do not wear headphones. They do wear some great shoes though. And there is, indeed, wine.

Because of the smaller venue and the very kind + tolerant members of Live Wire, I've been able to stalk stick around and chat with performers & guests after shows. Some people are incredibly gracious and sign my program or carefully stolen poster, which I then hang in my classroom to prove I am at least a tiny bit cool for having met Carrie Brownstein, Chris Shiflett from Foo Fighters, a writer for Family Guy, and the voice of SpongeBob.

We have become part of the League of Extraordinary Listeners because they give t-shirts & vodka and invite us to special events* this group of people deserves as much support as I can give - for sharing their talents, for exposing me to brilliant authors & musicians & regular people doing amazing things. I am personally enriched, of course, but I can then take these discoveries back to my students - I can make important connections with them, and I'm not only sharing new and interesting things but showing how they too can brighten the world with their passions; how they can get involved in important movements, locally & globally; how simple, small ideas from one or two people can become revolutions.

*They really do offer these and other fantastic incentives for donating money. It IS public radio, people. Pledge & get swag!

Yes, a radio show can be watched. It can be a marvelous entertainment. And it can be used to change hearts & minds.