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Colorado Folk Alley Fan visits, and is immediately put to work.

June 1, 2005

I know it feels most of the time it's just you, me, and a box of CDs (wonderfully inventive and often overlooked CDs at that). I always want you to feel like that IS the experience, by the way; Folk Alley should never feel like a non-personalized commercially driven formula. There is, however, a lot of work behind the scenes. Loading songs into the hard drive, arranging the mix using the music software program, researching or even interviewing the artists. Saturday I was shorthanded and nearing trouble.

I often have a couple helpers, usually ambitious students. Last week they all disappeared. Ashley the singer was in St Louis, Andy the mandolin player was in Rome, and Adam had graduated. Lindsey could fill in a bit, but had to leave early. To top it off, I was expecting a visitor. Bruce Metzger, a listener from Colorado was passing through town and asked if he could visit. "Sure," I said, but as deadlines approached I called and asked him to delay his visit because I was behind. Thank goodness he had already left.

Besides being a mountain climber and a dog lover, Bruce is also a computer programmer. My brain began to fester with ideas. After Lindsey gave Bruce a tour and split for an important function ("Tommy's party, of course, didn't you know?"), I asked Bruce: "Say, you wouldn't be in for a real experience would you?"

In a matter of minutes I was teaching Bruce to load songs, arrange playlists, insert messages, even answer phones. (He thought he would get a tour, and if things went well, maybe a leftover donut...) We were giving away "Asleep at the Wheel" tickets and dozens of local listeners were desperately trying to solve my trivia riddle. "Get a name and phone number, Bruce," I said, "You've got another crisis to solve." It turns out an hour of music was missing.

Bruce finished with the callers, quickly wrapped up his computer work in Studio A, and joined me in my office. I told him: "There's an hour missing. What do you want to hear?" He answered: "You're asking me!?" I reminded him: "Bruce, there's no one else here." Mindful of our mix, and careful not to leave things out, Bruce chose the hour - under my watchful eye, and we returned to our respective studios. Time was running out.

We completed our work, and Folk Alley was not interrupted. Afterword, we both reflected on what had just happened. I was in need of help and I thought I had no one to ask. I thought I might be imposing on Bruce, but in actuality, he received a hands on behind the scenes experience. I felt sheepish. He was grinning like a Cheshire cat. We had worked together for 5 hours non-stop. I did think about offering him that leftover donut, but it was Saturday and there weren't any. I did accept his offer to go backpacking and climbing in Colorado.

Looking back, you learn something about perspective. I was worried about putting a listener off the street to work. Outside of a few e-mails I had never met the guy before. Bruce Metzger from Colorado, however, was living a dream. Thanks buddy!

Posted by Jim Blum at June 1, 2005 12:10 PM


Ah, how often I had to do the same when we had performers into the studio when I was doing Folk Festival at WDCB in Chicago (Glen Ellyn, actually)---and it was usually pledge week with a full folk calendar!

Good times, Jim, Good Times!

Thanks for the memory.
I just had a thought. If you're really stuck for help, Us feidl geeks can help load hard drives by FTP if your system accomodates VPN, has enough security and we have some guidelines- QA would probably be an issue...But we're here fer yah!

Posted by: Scot Witt at June 1, 2005 3:44 PM

Hey Jim, if I'd known that was the deal, I'd have had you and Al trim my fruit trees while you were out here! Oh well, maybe next time...

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at June 1, 2005 4:04 PM

Sounds like Bruce was your angel in a time of great need. Just chalk it up as a "God" thing... and count the many blessings.

Posted by: Cyndi Meinck at June 2, 2005 11:14 AM

Not being familiar with radio broadcasting, I was anticipating a visit to the studio to be either completely laid back talking with Jim while the pre-programmed technology did its thing; OR, to be left sitting quietly out of the way while the busyness of the progamming took place around me.
I was certainly not expecting to be pulled into the process in such a hands-on manner! ... what a fun treat beyond a simple tour and explantion of the procedures. On-line listening will never be the same with the new visualization of where and how it gets done.
Glad to have been able to help out although Jim had everything under experienced control and my role from my perspective was more fun than it was desparate, dramatic, or ultimately necessary.
As equally impressive as the programming process and even more awe-inspiring, were the stacked up bins full of CD's in Jim's office. We've all heard poor Jim talk on the air about how he regularly receives more new CD's in the mail than he has time to listen to ... (tough job, huh?) ... well, he's not exagerating! ... They're really there! ... Hundreds of 'em! It was thought-provoking to ponder that nestled in those stacks might be the works of the next new upcoming artist to steal the spotlight of the unique genres highlighted on this program and that thanx to Jim and the Folk Alley staff, we're likely to hear them here first!
Jim, glad that our plan to meet up worked out and I'll take you up on that donut next time! Bruce

Posted by: Bruce Metzger at June 2, 2005 12:51 PM

I enjoyed reading about this! Is particularly fun for me since I am from neighboring Cuyahoga Falls, but living in the Chicago suburbs. Its fun to imagine Bruce just popping into Kent, from Colorado, and getting to help out!

Posted by: Mary Kay Longwell at June 7, 2005 10:11 AM

Jim, if I would have known we were pulling listeners off the street for help, I would have grabbed Bruce myself. I've been going through hours and hours and hours of me, please, help me.

Director of Operations/Production--Folk Alley

Posted by: Chris Boros at June 7, 2005 10:25 AM

Chris, what is it that you need done, and is it something that could be done remotely?

Posted by: Jack Swain at June 7, 2005 11:56 AM

Jim, that party really was IMPORTANT you know! It was a birthday party! ;) In any event, I had fun helping out!

Posted by: Lindsey Breece at June 7, 2005 2:26 PM

Shades of the old chestnut:
"Friends help you move..."
"True friends help you move bodies."
My experience has been that true friends would rather help you work than party. (If there's needed work to be done.)

Posted by: Dale Reese at June 29, 2005 9:59 PM

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