Category Archives: Community

We do care about the music.

Yesterday’s Sunday in the Park with Jazz was so much fun.  And anytime you can say that about work, it’s a win.

Great weather (always have great weather for this), supportive sponsors (thanks O’Daniel Porsche Audi and Frontier), big crowd, incredible food (thanks Club Soda and Weenies on Wheels) and of course, the music.  Big sounds from the first moment and it just kept coming all afternoon.

So here’s a huge shout-out to the Mark Van Cleave Jazz Orchestra, the Northeast Indiana Jazz Workshop, Groove Caravan, and the Todd Harrold Band (“Sunshine of Your Love” – I can live off that for a month, Todd.).  I’m not sure how we could have had a more powerful line up of music.  Standing back by the Clinton Street Gate, listening, watching, just breathing in how great it is to be outside, downtown, in the middle of a big crowd enjoying that music was just about as good as it gets.  Loved every minute of the day. (And we do have super pictures, but we don’t the cord to download them . . . yeah.)

That beautiful day was the culmination of a whole week of wild music flurry at the studios.  We’re launching Meet the Music, hosted by Julia Meek (and sometimes side-kicked by Kevin Kreigh), a showcase of local musicians and music of all genres.  We’ve been recording those segments almost nonstop in order to have four or five complete shows ready to go before Meet the Music debuts on October 7 at 7pm (that’s the plan right now).  It’ll precede Little Brother Radio and make Thursday a fantastic listening night. (Along with Friday, Saturday, and Sunday)

So all week, we’ve had a steady stream of local music legends carting equipment and instruments through the hall.  Chief Engineer Ed Didier and our volunteer engineer, Al Mozena, have been burning the midnight oil (and I’m serious about that) to make certain the set ups are right and that the recordings are spot on.  And it has been just so very exciting.

Here’s who’s visited:

Reeves & Ling String Trio (awesome classical), Steve Walley (jazz piano – he didn’t drag that in, we have one!), Bill Lupkin Band (oh, blues), ClusterFolk (folk/rock and we say their name so carefully), Ty Causey Band (pure soul), Greg Vey (classical/ragtime piano), Sunny Taylor (c’mon, you know Sunny), Todd Harrold Band (jazz, funky jazz), The Alicia Pyle Ensemble (piano, strings, voice, and conga!). . .  and they keep coming.

We’re proud of the exceptional national news and information programming we bring you every day, and of other local programming that has grown strong roots, like Midday Matters.  This is one more reason to love public radio and we hope, to support it.

This is awesome stuff and we’re grateful to all these fine musicians for catching our enthusiasm (hard not to when Julia is the ringleader) and donating their time and talent.  October 7, Meet the Music!

Keep your ears tuned . . .


PS – Musicians who are interested in being featured on an upcoming Meet the Music should submit a demo to Meet the Music, NIPR, P.O. Box 8459, Fort Wayne, IN 46898.  A panel reviews submissions and selects musicians to ensure that a wide variety of genres are represented. Bands are not paid for their participation.  It’s public radio, people!


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This Sunday. In the Park. Jazz.

Events are not my favorite thing, from a business vantage point, but Sunday in the Park with Jazz is a whole different story.  Because there isn’t a business model, really.

It’s a day that’s not about making money, although we are so grateful to our generous corporate sponsors whose support means that we end up with black ink instead of red.  It’s a day that’s all about listening to awesome local live music in a truly remarkable downtown setting with no tickets, only open gates.  It’s about families with blankets and strollers and juice boxes and all kind of folks riding their bikes and senior jazz fans hearing their favorites (and new stuff) while they read the Sunday paper and everybody just kicking back on a Sunday afternoon.

It’s about a group of people who may not have a lot in common, but share a love of live performance and sunny Sunday afternoons and many who value public radio and like to be wherever we are.

We love it because it’s a great time for us to talk to our listeners and members and people who may not ever listen to us, but want to learn about what we have to offer. And it’s a chance for listeners to ask questions, about changes here, about future plans, about what’s down the road for NIPR.

The fun happens at Headwaters Park – West Side. Our great friends from Club Soda and Dawg’s Dogs will be back and for a few dollars you can buy a great late lunch or early supper – or both.  We’re going to have a “garage sale” of too-much-fun NIPR “prize closet”items as well as some extraordinary jazz vinyl donated by a friend of the station, with all proceeds benefitting NIPR.

But the most important piece, the music, is going to be over the top.  The Todd Harrold Band, Northeast Indiana Jazz Workshop, The Mark Van Cleave Orchestra, and Groove Caravan will all be playing during the afternoon and if you know anything about these groups, you know that there’s going to be BIG music.

It’s going to be a memorable afternoon and we hope you’ll join us.  If you need more info, give Lea a call at 452-1189.

See you there,


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On Andrew, PHIL, and what happens next.

Andrew Constantine is an easy interview, folks.  And informative. And fun.

Andrew, in case you’ve not been keeping up with culture, is the new music director at the PHIL and their 2010-2011 season begins tonight.

I’ve been watching PHIL opening nights for a lot of years and there is a wonderful excitement all around this one. They will be playing Barber’s Adagio, just like they did nine years ago, and for those of us that were there on that opening night, I’m guessing it will bring back the unbelievable feeling that we had being in that place, at that time, with that music.  But the rest of the program is spine tingling, too.  Get a ticket. Be there. (Oh, it starts at 6pm. If you show up at 8, well, it will be over.)

Phil Shaull and I talked with Andrew in the studio on Thursday and then excerpted pieces of that for broadcast in a couple of places. Including WBOI. Conversations about organizations like the PHIL and people like Andrew belong there, too.

We’ve been thinking a lot, and along with many of you, about where our area’s cultural updates and insights are going to find a home on public radio when WBNI is no longer broadcasting, whenever that might be, and we’re working on it.  It won’t be the same as when Janice had long conversations, every week, with the leaders of some organizations. That time slot and format just doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t want to give attention, and space, and heart to the arts organizations, large and small, that make such a difference in our lives week in and week out and play a vibrant part in the education, quality of life, and joy of this region.

Julia Meek and Phil have given voice to many expected and unexpected arts topics, events, leaders, and participants during Midday Matters ArtCentric and that’s going to continue in some form.  We’ve got Julia immersed in the planning of our new evening local music program and she may take a break from MM, but the arts coverage will continue.  And we are always looking for ways to tell our audience about what’s happening, what just happened, and what’s going to happen on the cultural scene.

As we look at our overall programming with an eye on budgeting, even as we anticipate some changes, please do know that honoring the community, especially the arts community, is always on our mind.

Talking with the dynamic leaders of our cultural community, like Andrew Constantine, Charles Shephard, Ketu Oladuwa, Liz Monnier, Karen Gibbons Brown, Dorothy Kittaka (ok. I should not have started naming people – there are hundreds) . . .  and on forever, should be part of our “public” work.  Just going on record as saying that, so you know that we at NIPR value those relationships as an organization and want to be a good home for the messages and the missions of all arts work in our region.

Tonight, I’m not going to worry about budgets or programming or what comes next. I’m going to experience “The Love for Three Oranges” again, all of it.  And I hear, from reliable sources, that it is just pretty challenging to play.  Watchin’ you work, musicians!

Did I mention Gil Shaham?  Uh-huh.

Have a great week-end.


Oh, and Masterworks concerts, like tonight’s, will continue to be broadcast on WBNI, the second Thursday evening following the concert.

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Carrie Boylan, who joined us just a couple of months ago as our Corporate Engagement Manager has coined a new word to describe the “spots” you hear on our stations that give credit to our corporate programming sponsors.  “Underwritements.”   I like it.

We’re a federally funded (less than 10% of our budget, but it’s there and we’re grateful for it) not for profit, noncommercial public radio station and that comes with a bit of baggage when it comes to our corporate partners and what we can say on the air. You’ve noticed that our corporate spots sound very different from the advertising you might hear on commercial stations. (No “Saturday, SATURDAY, SATURDAY!! here).  Community-minded businesses “get” that partnering with NIPR is different from just “buying air time.”

The regulations around the corporate presence on our station are based on the assumption that corporate support is just that – corporations make a contribution to public radio and the “spots” serve as acknowledgement of that support.  No calls to action (that’s why many spots end with something like “more information at rather than “Stop in today and buy something”) and why the spots are short (most thirty words or less) and why you don’t hear comparative terms (nobody’s the biggest, fastest, smartest, nicest, brightest, bestest).

Those spots are designed to do one important thing – let the community of listeners know that this particular company has found public radio to be a significant community resource with a worthwhile audience and they are choosing to support it.  The spots remind all of us that the programming we hear isn’t free and that corporations and organizations are teaming up with every individual member who contributes to make certain this resource keeps broadcasting.

Every decision to underwrite on NIPR contains an element of philanthropy, of community investment and all of us who enjoy what we hear would do a good service by thanking underwriters when we have the opportunity.

But signing up, and paying the bill, for “underwritements” on NIPR has some big upside for companies, so while partnering with us will always have an element of charitable investment, there’s solid business strategy as well.

We have a remarkable audience that rewards companies who support public radio.  You are loyal, committed, invested in the community, and you want to be a patron of others who feel the same.  You are the people many “advertisers” want to connect with and you pay attention. You don’t need blaring music or someone yelling at you to understand what it means for a company to stand behind programming you value.  You are engaged in this work and when we invite corporations and organizations in our region to support us, through underwriting, event sponsorship, or our new business membership program, we are inviting them into the same relationship, full engagement with the work.  And as a reward, we let you, listeners with a least a bit of money to spend now and then, know about their investment.

Each of us can play a part, along with Carrie, in strengthening our corporate “engagement” by simply letting the organizations you hear mentioned on the air know that you appreciate their partnership. We know how important it is to them every time an NIPR listeners says “Hey, I heard your spot on NIPR.  Thanks for doing that!”  It matters – to them and to us.




Filed under Community, Financial fun, Partners

In the booth.

We spent months preparing for the StoryCorps visit – lots of planning, collaborating, and encouraging the community to participate.  Now that the MobileBooth and the energetic staff members are here, we’re in the background, watching it unfold.  We’ll have tape to edit at the end of this week so we can begin airing some segments, but for now, we’re observers.

Except for Monday afternoon at 2:30.  That was my interview slot. I made my reservation online like everybody else, because I knew I wanted to participate, wanted to experience the StoryCorps ethos and have some part of my life archived.  It’s a very winsome thought – telling a story and saving it.

I asked my younger sister, Ruth Jones, to be my interview partner, and we talked about her life as the twin of a special needs person, our sister, Lois.  It was a good

My sisters, Ruth and Lois.

conversation, maybe not lots of great sound bytes to be used on air, but, really, that’s not the point.  I realized that more as we sat together in that booth.

It’s an interesting experience.  Lilly, the StoryCorps site coordinator and the facilitator for our interview, prepped us a bit, fixed our mics, closed the double sound proof doors, and created a little cocoon of storytelling.  The atmosphere was private, soft, and kind of protected.  Lilly moved into the background, controlling sound levels a bit and making sure everything was moving along.

And then we just talked.  I had sent Ruth some questions that I wanted to ask and she had thought about them.  I think we both heard some things we hadn’t heard before even though we see each other often.  This just isn’t something we talk much about – growing up with Lois was just how we grew up.  It’s just our everyday life.

I have to think that’s when StoryCorps is at its best – when two people talk about their ordinary experiences and in doing so uncover little bits of treasure about their own lives.  We hear it, sometimes, in segments that get air time on Friday mornings during Morning Edition and know that those two people, people we don’t know at all, were experiencing something very special in that moment.

Having spent my forty minutes or so in the MobileBooth, I have a new appreciation for those moments.  Sitting at that small table with big mics (and a teeny tiny little glass of water – so it doesn’t make a big mess if it spills), those people were looking at each other and sharing those “stories”, just like Ruth and I did.  They weren’t thinking at all about whether or not it was “good radio”, they were just thinking about whatever part of their life they were sharing, remembering, and valuing the person across from them.

For good reason, StoryCorps asks that no one person have more than one appointment in the booth during their stay.  I totally understand that, but I could think of a whole handful of people who I would like to interview in that soft, quiet space.  Everyday people with stories of compassion and strength, stories like Ruth’s, that having real meaning and are worth telling, sharing, and saving.

As of this moment, there are still three or four interview slots available at the end of next week, Friday and Saturday, July 30 and 31.  Those are StoryCorps’ last days in Fort Wayne and you should think about taking advantage of this really remarkable  experience.  Here’s the link: StoryCorps Reservations/Fort Wayne.  You’ll be pleased that you did.

I certainly am.  Thanks, Ruth.

PS.  Our friend Andrew Hoffman of NeighborLink also had a time in the booth and interviewed NLFW’s founder and board chair. You can hear that interview here.

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And we’re off . . . or on . . .

This morning marked the end of months of planning and the beginning of three weeks of just way-too-exciting storytelling.  It was a great opening day.

Whitney, Jorge, and Virginia, the StoryCorps crew, had everything set up and ready to go when our first, very first, StoryCorps pair arrived and entered the booth this morning at 10:30.

Community volunteer Eleanor Marine and City Councilman John Shoaff spent their time talking about Headwaters Park – both served as members of the commission right from the start and have an insider’s view of what is now an iconic part of the city. I’m eager to hear the interview and just as eager to share parts of it with our listeners. Eleanor and John are good friends and Jorge made the comment after the interview concluded that they seemed to really enjoy each and laughed a lot.  That would be our wish for every pair as they leave the Mobile Booth – that they enjoy each other and feel like it was good to share that space for an hour.

Big thanks to our local press for showing up, being interested, and spending time.  A special shout out to WANE-TV’s Alyssa Ivanson (a StoryCorps fan) and cameraman Trae Hester for investing so much time with us.  We’re looking forward to your coverage. Ellie Bogue with the News-Sentinel, Sam Hoffman, Journal-Gazette, Fort Wayne Magazine, Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly — all are giving us some attention. We’ve had great support from all the local media and it makes a difference for a project like this.  Salute, colleagues!

Adding to the festivities were awesome hot dogs and drinks from Chris and Jennifer McMinn (and Maya), owners of Rush Street Express. Thanks so much for coming down and feeding us.

The second interview today was Cheryl Ferverda of the Allen County Public Library, our partner in this endeavor, interviewing with her son.  And then the remainder of the afternoon is filled with public interviews, those folks who signed up through the web site or by phone.  And we’re off and running.

We’ll begin airing some of the edited segments next week, if we’re productive and lucky and can’t wait to begin sharing StoryCorps NE Indiana with all of you.

The schedule is pretty full, although this afternoon I did help someone find a reservation slot for next week  . . .  and . . .  the good news is that tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 10 am, another 20 or so spots are going to be opened up in the schedule (because we did such a good job of filling what we had!).  So if you procrastinated and now would really like to participate, go to and click on the reservation link or go directly to StoryCorps Fort Wayne Reservations. And they are building a waiting list, because we know some folks may have to cancel as we move through the three weeks ahead.  You know you want to do this, so find a partner and sign up!

It’s going to be an interesting three weeks and so gratifying to air segments of these local interviews all throughout the next many months, sharing the stories of what makes growing up here, living here, falling in love, going to war, coming home, serving the public, making art, dealing with adversity, learning lessons, sharing memories, and passing all that on, so very special.

Thanks, StoryCorps, for visiting us and thanks, all of you who’ve worked to make this successful.  We’re off to a memorable start.

Because the stories matter,


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Almost story time.

StoryCorps begins for real this week.  On Tuesday afternoon, two facilitators and the site manager will roll into town and get ready for the first interviews on Friday. We’ll start with the first interview at 10:30 am and a second at 12:30pm and the hour between those first two will be for the press – and anyone who’s interested – to see the booth, meet the staff, and have a free hot dog with us. Hey, food is important. Consider yourself invited. Seriously. 11:30, Friday – Library parking lot.

Those first two interviews are the only ones that we’ll talk about before they happen.  We were asked to think about things that were important to our area, that in some ways gave identity to our region, and that included folks who would be willing to talk, not so much about themselves, but about what makes us a community.  The 10:30 interview will be John Shoaff and Eleanor Marine, talking  about Headwaters Park –  how it came to be and what they think it means to us.  The second slot will be filled by two library people, talking about that important community cornerstone and the changes that they’ve seen from the inside out.  I like how this has worked out.  There are thousands of stories that would have fit marvelously here, but these will be great additions to the overall body of work that comes out of Fort Wayne.

I can see the schedule of interviews enough to tell which slots are filled – looks like right this moment there’s on slot on the 17th, one on the 18th, and one on the 19th. Things move around and change all the time, so if you’re still hoping to talk with someone you know, don’t give up. Just go here. But I don’t get to see who’s filling those slots – this is a great process that really protects people who may want to tell a story, but not necessarily share it with the world. You can share it – that’s kind of the point – but you certainly don’t have to.

Each session will last about an hour, with the actual recording lasting 40 minutes.  When you leave, each participant will leave, right then, with a CD of the entire conversation. And if you want you can say that it ends there – nothing considered for on-air (either through NPR or through NIPR) and that you don’t want your conversation archived in the American FolkLife project at the Library of Congress. But we hope all of our stories will go to that archive and that most will be able to be considered for editing for on-air use.  Those spots you hear on Friday mornings on Morning Edition come from 40 minutes of recording.  So, there’s some production work to be done after the stories are told.

At NIPR, we’ll receive tape each week from the interviews – not every single one – but many, and then we’ll edit those for our own StoryCorps segments.  Over the next year, you can count on hearing our special stories at times other than the regular StoryCorps slots on Fridays.  We can’t wait to share the unique stories of our own community.

Over the week-end, when I was with my family, somene asked “What’s in it for the station?” (Ah, pragmatic family.) And I had to think about that.  It’s been a bit of work – gathering community folks together to make certain we sincerely reached out to all, telling the StoryCorps story in a way that made certain those interview slots would be filled, planning for appropriate housing for the SC staff while they are here (an unfurnished house? who’s idea was that . . . oh, never mind.), and coordinating the “home” for the MobileBooth.

Furnishing the unfurnished - Lea's "moving" van.

But we think, as a staff and board, that this work, this storytelling and keeping of the stories, aligns so magnificently with our mission, we couldn’t NOT be willing to host StoryCorps.  Of course, we hope we get some great radio segments from it and that by participating, perhaps we’ll draw new listeners and new supporters.  But that will be a bit hard to measure, I think.  And we hope the community will appreciate that we brought this project to Fort Wayne and continue to see us as more than a radio station, as a community resource interested in  serving the entire community. We also hope that individuals who participate will have a remarkable time and that it will, in some small way, bring enrichment to their lives, their human experience and that as those stories are shared, it will enrich our human experience, all of us who are privileged to listen.

We’ve been talking about and planning for this for a long time.  So thrilled that it’s finally here.  So many of you have helped get us here — thanks for that — and to those of you who are telling your stories during the next four weeks — big thanks for that.  I hope something magical happens for you in that tiny little booth.


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