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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution
How Not to Prepare for a K&D Guest Appearance
January 12, 2000
K&D just got back from a road trip where we met and interviewed sixteen composers. The interviews were all pretty darn good, and we're going to be delighted to broadcast them over the coming months.
But we do get cranky after a 700-mile driving round-trip and many out-of-pocket dollars. Yup, artists are self-involved. So are we. But we hope that K&D is a kind of cooperative venture, where everyone has a good time while having a chance to thrash through some of the questions about our art form in front of a "live" audience.
So I have to admit being annoyed by one guest -- not the content or his accomplishment as a composer, but the kind of total self-involvement that lost our enthusiasm. It made me think about the K&D approach and how that approach makes it possible for us to continue to do this project without additional burdens -- time, cost, psyche.
It's hard to quantify, but here's the story (names but not gender changed to protect the innocent) and how to keep yourself on our "wow we can't wait to get that guest back on the show" list! This is a case study in what not to do!
- He called us. Use email. We work via email, and if you have it, please use it. Don't call us unless it's an emergency because, hard as it is to believe, we composers have day jobs. Damian does a gig outside, but Kalvos works in a home office, a dangerous temptation to call him. (Oh yes -- please avoid letters. We just don't get around to answering them.)
- He didn't know what we did. Look at our site. Have some idea of what we do and why we exist. We're broadcast radio and cybercast and on-demand archive. And spell our gosh darn names right! If we don't know what you do, we'll do our best to find out. Hence...
- He sent us nothing. Other than to a broken website, that is. Send us stuff ahead of time. We accept postal mail and FTP. If you do point us to a website, make sure we can actually get the soundfiles (we're not on a high-speed university network) and that your site is fully accessible. (He claimed he didn't do the site. Too bad. His name was on it.)
- He ignored our requests. We'll try to be proactive, but if we tell you we can't hear your sound, please -- before your guest appearance -- put something in an envelope, crank up the FTP, or fix your site.
- He dropped out of touch. Confirm with us. Don't make us chase you down to be sure you'll be where we expect to interview you. For a different composer, we traveled 350 miles a full day early to meet with him ... and he forgot to get out of bed.
- He gave us no-archive music, but told us that two days after the interview. We're specific. If we broadcast it, we archive it. If we can't archive it, then we leave it out. Will we edit that interview? No, we don't edit interviews. They go "live on tape" as if you're in the studio. So in this case they'll be a silence where there should be music, followed by an explanation. We hate that.
- He had an agenda. The first job of an interviewer is to discard the interviewee's agenda. Failing that, we're happy to let you embarrass yourself. But audiences are smart, and we've fielded lots of "who is this jerk"-type phone calls!
- He lectured. K&D is not a university classroom. Lecturing is deadly radio and we'll go for your throat, in a nice kind of way. And yes, they'll be derisive phone calls.
- He dropped names. Boring. We want to know what you do and how you do it, not who you know. (Hey, I drove Ralph Nader in my 1964 Valiant. You may kiss my transmission.)
- He avoided questions. Answer the questions. This guy spent 22 minutes -- nearly half the spoken interview time -- sidestepping an important question. You get 15 seconds on CNN, a coupla minutes if you're really important. 22 minutes is forehead-poundingly long.
- He humiliated the audience. Don't demean us and our listeners by revealing you're the most erudite guy on earth, or even try to make a point by quoting a medievalist. Nuh-uh. Whatever agenda you might have had will be blown even worse than we'll do for you.
- He didn't identify. Small point, but we make it over and over -- put a doggone label on the spine, on the CD, and on the insert card so we know what we have, how long it is, and who you are. And test the darn CD so we don't get an error pie that won't play.
So did this guy do anything right? You bet!
- He showed up. Right day, right place, right time.
- He did demo stuff. Neat noises with his voice and our voices. Good radio.
- He followed up. No labels, but at least something came in the mail.
That's it. We've had worse (though not in recent memory), and we have certainly embarrassed ourselves over the years. That's why we have a guest section in the K&D newsletter that tells everyone how to send us music and text and photos and everything else. We want to do this show and site, and want to want to do it. You can keep us enthusiastic if you don't ask us to chase you down or label your stuff or edit your archive.
Thanks for that. I just had to have this little tantrum. We felt, like, just so used...