A week or so ago, I received an invitation to do a radio interview about social media on 89.5 WBEW (vocalo.org) in response to an article in The Times about the Tweetup in Northwest Indiana February 26th. Although I didn’t know much about vocalo at the time, I knew WBEW as the Chesterton, Indiana-based sister station to WBEZ (91.5 FM), the flagship Chicago National Public Radio station–also the default pre-set station in my own car.
I told my always-in-the-know friend Amanda (a.k.a. Kiss My Aster) that I had an interview on WBEW, she said, “You will love vocalo!” It turns out that vocalo is somewhat akin to the social media version of radio in that its content is 100% user generated. Some online research led me to this Chicago Reader article that credits vocalo as the brainchild of Tory Malatia, the station manager at WBEZ. (This name may be familiar to you if you listen to ‘This American Life’ on NPR–Ira Glass, the show’s host jokingly credits an outclip from the show to Tory at the end of each show.)
I began to look forward to the interview, considering the experience itself a possible lesson in social media and figuring that free publicity for my fledgling business certainly couldn’t hurt either. I asked my friend and neighbor, Abby Corso, about details for the new bus service that connects Valparaiso to the Chicago Loop. As it happened, Abby needed to drive to the city on this particular day and offered to give me a ride.
I always enjoy time with Abby. She is one of those rare people who always exudes a quiet calm and confidence. She is also one of the greenest people I know, patiently and gently coaching me on how I can reduce my carbon footprint and live greener. Abby does some innovative and valuable work at the Delta Institute in Chicago’s South Loop, including her current project encouraging Chicago area businesses to buy greener via participation in a Green Purchasing Consortium that offers more affordable green purchasing options through economies of scale.
After sharing a cup of coffee and a tour of Delta Institute’s offices at the historic Monadnock Building in the South Loop, I set off (walking) to WBEW’s office’s at Navy Pier. I used to live in the South Loop. When I did, I rarely if ever walked to Navy Pier. Especially not when it was snowing. And I was wearing “high-ish” heels. And due for a radio interview in 30 or 40 minutes…
At 10 minutes to 9:00 I was at the north end of Millenium Park and figured a cab would be a really good idea. My cab driver “Ken”, a jovial man of Pakistani descent told me, “No problem–I will get you to the radio station.” WBEZ is his favorite station–he said he listens almost all the time and is a supporting member of the station. He tried to go to a a members only open house recently, but learned that he wasn’t allowed to park his cab in the regular parking lot at Navy Pier. (Can this be true? If so, why? I mean–it’s still a car, even if it is yellow or checkered or whatever… Why different rules for parking it?) Anyway, Ken asked me what I was going to be talking about during my interview. I only had about 5 minutes to explain Twitter which in my experience, is not nearly enough. I suggested he tune in to 89.5 and listen on air. Before parting, I gave him my business card and a nice tip.
I squeaked in to the hallowed halls of WBEZ just before 9:00 a.m. Tom Herman, the Host/Producer of ‘Tom in the Morning’, was calling the front desk just as I was signing the visitor log. I saw the name on the line above mine–“Robert Edwards.” I asked the receptionist in hushed, star-struck tones, “Is this the Bob Edwards?” Sadly, it was not. I seemed to recall he was from Louisville or something, but thought, what the heck? People travel–you never know…
I had about a 5-minute wait until Tom summoned me. I contented myself with scanning the faces of each person as they walked in the door, hoping to spot someone I might recognize–Ira Glass or David Sedaris, for instance… It is radio (not a particularly visual medium); however, this is how big of an NPR geek I am. I would be able to spot these “voices” in a crowded room. No such spotting though…
Once I sat down, adjusted my mic and headset, we were ready to go. Tom was very easy to talk to and the time passed more quickly than I would have imagined. I love the topic (Twitter, social media for business) so that probably had something to do with it. That, along with the fact that our conversation was interspersed with liberal doses of music. Maybe research shows that 50 solid minutes of a woman droning on about social media is not optimal for listeners? Anyway, Tom and I chatted briefly outside the studio when the interview was done. He said he thought it went well and that we should stay in touch. As we were talking, I could hear the broadcast of the show that started when ours was finished. I heard my name mentioned on air. A caller had called in response to our segment and was asking the new host why he should care about Twitter. Ahh, fame.
I walked out of the offices at Navy Pier pleased that I had at least been able to incite further discussion on the topic of social media. I checked my cell phone messages. I saw a 773 area code number I didn’t recognize. It was my cab driver. He told me he had listened to the show and found it very, very interesting though hard for him to understand. He told me that one of his fares during the show broadcast seemed interested in what I was saying and that he had passed along my card. You never know where you might make a connection…
Next on my agenda was a meeting at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. Abby Corso had arranged for me to join her for a meeting between her and Molly Kievit, the Chamber’s new force behind some recent green initiatives. It was an exhilarating meeting, weaving green agenda items with social media tactics. I’m looking forward to the possibility of partnering with the Delta Institute and the Chamber on some of this work.
When I arrived back in Valparaiso, I listened to the archive of the interview, deemed it reasonably sane sounding and called my mom to find out if she had heard it. Due to a mix up, she thought it was to be broadcast the following morning and was disappointed she missed it. No worries–she (and anyone else) can listen to the archive if desired. Note: my segment is not until the last hour of the show, so you may want to forward to the 2/3 mark. Does anyone know how to edit the link so just my portion is left? I looked into some free audio editing software last night, but it wasn’t coming together for me…
I offer training and strategic advice on how to use social media to help businesses meet their objectives. Learn more about my services at www.mysocialmediacoach.com.
If you are a Twitter user in Northwest Indiana, please join us for the next Tweetup Thursday, March 26th at Coladas Pizza in Valparaiso 7-10 pm. You can find out more at NWI Tweetup’s blog.
Great job Kathy, I’ll listen later today. I’m trying to figure out how to download an audio like that to my blackberry so I can listen while driving. I’ll ask Hedges, he’s the audio vocalo expert
Audacity is great for audio editing and is what Vocalo.org suggests since it is open source / free.
I assume you’ll need to figure out a way to download the audio from the Vocalo.org site to get it into the editor — I assume there are programs that can do this for you available as open source software. (They have a podcast on iTunes also).
You might want to contact the host. Maybe he can send you a copy with just your interview.
Once again YOU ROCK!.when is the rest of the world going to realize that? Since your famous now, WHEN you get a free minute, stop in and see me;)
Such a cool story, great post… downloading to listen now…
Remember that brief conversation about whether you wanted to take this journey as the social media expert? It seems as if your determination and your friends have catapulted you to the forefront in Northwest Indiana. Keep spreading the word!