Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Learning from One of the Best (and Nicest) in Talk Radio

After my teenage years of constantly scanning the radio dial for just the right tune to crank up on my car radio, I decided to let the dial stop on a talk radio show rather than just skipping over it. I was eighteen, the age for me to “officially” be called an adult. Well, there must be something to that age because when I came across this program on talk-radio, I was actually interested in what I heard. I found myself listening to more and more talk on the radio after that…whether they were informative, insightful, funny or controversial these programs really captured and held my interest. I have been a big fan of talk radio ever since.

For the past twenty six years I have continued to tune into these programs and occasionally I have even felt compelled to call in and ask a question or give an opinion. I seem to spend a lot of time in my car at different times of the day. So, I have been able to listen to and get to know about most of the radio talk show hosts from one end of the radio dial to the other. There are definitely some talk show hosts that are better than others, but I admire all of them. It would be a very challenging job to capture and then hold the interest of a live audience for several hours a day without being able to see them. Sometimes I have to just sit in my car in my driveway to finish listening to a topic.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet with one of the best on the dial. Alex Kirry is a co-host of a talk radio show called, The Nightside Project. It airs every night from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and can be found on 1160 AM or 102.7 FM in Salt Lake City, or you can listen to it live online or listen to podcasts of the show.
The show reviews the day’s top news stories with a lot of light heartedness and humor… not to say that they are never serious. They also give well-thought out commentary on various issues and are able to get a lot of people calling to join in on the conversation. Alex’ co-host is Ethan Millard and the two hosts of the show carry on a friendly, fun banter back and forth throughout the show. Even though I am not in their target younger audience of those in their twenties or thirties, I have been listening since the show began and have really enjoyed it. (Maybe my mind still operates on a younger level? -- If that!)

As many of the followers of my site know, I have been working on a book about a talk radio personality for a while now. I am sure I was influenced to write a book about this because of my years of being a listener and fan. In order to make my book more authentic, it has been important to learn as much as I can about the radio business. As I have been researching information for my book, I have thought about an occasion I had listening to Richard Paul Evans. He was giving a speech on his writing experiences. He said that once when he was writing a book that needed a lot of medical information, he shadowed a doctor for a while. As they walked in a female patient’s room, she recognized him and she said, “I knew you were an author, but I had no idea you were a doctor too!” Clearly, his research was paying off. He looked and played the part so well that this patient actually believed he was a doctor…Either that or she was just highly medicated!

So, I know that in order to make my book believable, I need to take that kind of approach and learn as much as I can about the job of my main character…but, who to ask? I considered a few different radio personalities in the area. Then, I chose Alex Kirry because he sounded so approachable. He has also been a “friend” of mine on Facebook for quite a while now. I had added him as a friend because I am a fan of his show and I like to hear about what is going on with him. We have also followed each other on Twitter.

So, I sent him an e-mail. When I sent Alex the e-mail explaining to him about my book, I was not sure what kind of response I would receive. I’m sure he is very busy.

Alex immediately responded to my request and sounded more than happy to help me. I proceeded to make him a list of questions that I needed answers for to lend credibility to my work. When Alex received the list of questions, he replied that since I had such an extensive list of questions that maybe it would be better to meet at his work to answer the questions and that I could record what he had to say.
I was very impressed by his willingness to show me around the studio. I met with Alex yesterday at the KSL Studios in downtown Salt Lake City. He spent an hour and a half showing me around the studio, answering my questions, and telling me everything he could think of that might be helpful to me. He introduced me around to a lot of his co-workers and then showed me the various pieces of equipment and explained how it all worked. I had seen other studios before but it was truly fascinating to me to see this one now… not only as an author who needed the information but as a fan of talk radio for so many years.

It was also very interesting to meet Alex in person. It is funny how you form an impression in your mind of what someone might look like when you hear them on the radio. I’m not exactly sure what I expected but the tall smiling man that greeted me was not it. Alex was so professional and good to me that I wanted to write about and thank him in today’s post. Later, after I left the studio, I was thinking how grateful I was to have asked him from all of my choices of hosts. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he hadn’t even responded to my e-mail. He certainly did not have to…there would be no personal gain for him. But not only did he respond, he went the extra mile to help a virtual stranger.

This experience told me a lot about Alex Kirry. Clearly, what I heard on the radio was not imagined. He really was a great guy. He sounded approachable on the air, and he was. So, I just wanted to thank Alex again… There is no doubt I will be mentioning him in the acknowledgments of my book. Because of the information I received, the work should move along a lot quicker now. Then, maybe I will stop waking in the night with ideas for the plot or changes that I feel I need to make. My editor laughs about all of the ideas and changes that come across her desk. One of these days, all of my ideas for the book will run dry and I will feel comfortable about not having any more changes to make. At that point, I will know that my book is ready to publish and share with all of you.

Remember to listen for Alex on the radio, and then watch for his influence in the book. Thanks again to him for helping me in the creative process of writing….I sincerely appreciated him giving so generously of his time and wisdom.

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Ronda Hinrichsen said...

Fun blog. Helpful in the "How to Research" department, too. Thanks.

JoAnn Arnold said...

Enjoyed your blog. Great thought and ideas. You just know how to get it done.

Derek and Laura Lofgreen said...

I'm sure you're on cloud nine. You certainly attract opportunities, ain't no doubt!