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Don’t blog and drive.

No time to blog when you’re pledge driving, folks.  We had a great week of on-air activity and a good week of all the follow up that has to happen.  Thanks, really, to all of you who pledged and supported and watched us dodge bullets during that challenging week.  We ended up in a pretty good place, although we’re always, even in a successful drive, far short of what it takes to run this organization until the next drive.  It’s a strange fund raising model, but it’s the one that seems to work for pub radio.

If you were following the news, you won’t be surprised that we heard from a lot more people than usual during this drive, as far as people calling in for reasons other than to pledge.  The Juan Williams story sparked lots of comments and I’m glad people feel free to weigh in on these difficult issues.  I especially appreciate folks to called in to voice disapproval, but let us know that they would continue to support this, the local station.  And I even had space for members who said they just didn’t feel like they could financially support us at this time, but voiced their concerns with civility.

I didn’t especially appreciate the rude, threatening people who vowed to never give us another dime, to see to it that I personally was taken down along with the station, and to make certain that public media never received another cent of federal funding.  Almost without exception, those calls, the hysterically angry, threatening calls were from people who’d never given us a dime to start with, and most of them, I’m pretty sure, had never listened either.

That sort of activity takes a lot of energy and pledge drive takes a pretty fair amount of energy all on its own, so we were a tired bunch when the week ended.  But we were, when all was said and done, extremely proud to be working for such a decent group of listeners and contributors.

You get it and for that we are grateful.

And we’re grateful for every pledge made, every encouraging comment, and every show of support for local programming and national offerings, for every suggestion as to how we can better serve this community, and for every “atta girl” and “atta boy” that came our way.

It was a little weird to think about this being my last pledge drive as an official member of this crew.  Early in the week I was pretty emotional about that, because, really, I’ve loved pledge drives.  By the end of the week, I was of a little different mind set, but still just so grateful for the opportunity to have worked with this awesome staff and our faithful listeners.

Thanks for your part in making it a great drive – your gifts, your time on the phones, treats and goodies brought in, and good thoughts and encouragement.  It all matters more than you might think.




P. S.  I suspect there will continue to be a great deal of discussion about the funding of NPR and of local public radio (and television).  For an informative article, might I suggest “Why NPR Matters”, published in The Atlantic?


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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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Identity crisis.

We’ve had a bit of an identity crisis here for a long time and from time to time we dive head first into looking for some solutions.  We are in one of those dives right now, sorting through many options for presenting ourselves to the public.

We don’t worry too much about those of you who are already hooked on public radio. You’ll find us whether we tag ourselves as WBOI, WBNI, 89.1fm, Northeast Indiana Public Radio, or whatever.  You know where and how to tap into what you want each day.  But we’d like to grow our audience and strengthen the ties we have with the community and raise awareness of the fact that public radio is an important resource.  So sometimes we act like a radio station and sometimes we act like a not for profit community organization and we do a chameleon thing with our name as we move back and forth between those two roles.

Several of us had a great meeting a couple of weeks ago with Jeff Britton and Jack Patton of Britton Marketing and Design Group and those meetings with wildly creative people always get our juices flowing again. Jeff and Jack are both great friends of the station and it’s always good to talk with people who really get what’s at the heart of the organization — and care deeply about its success.  They were both quick to point out that we’ve got some branding issues, some identity lapses, and it’s all the more important as we talk about beefing up our web presence, our social media portfolio, and our offering of electronic listening options.  We need to be able to clearly show – graphically – who we are.

I love this stuff.  It forces us to get to the core of the matter.  Who are we and how do we want to relate to this community?

For a very long time, this organization was WBNI, classical music, locally hosted, but as most of you know who follow us, the time when that is our core offering has come and gone.  Our recent member/listener survey, while still being processed, shows us that our core listeners now come to us for news and information.  Changes our identity some.  Or, perhaps, complicates it as we move from what we were to what we are and as we look to what we will be,what the community needs us to be.

How do you think of us?  WBOI?  89.1fm, a specific place on your radio? NPR?  NIPR (the nipper!), a media organization?  NIPR, a not for profit organization? Phil Shaull’s radio playground (just kidding, just kidding)?

When you tell people about us, what do you call us?

I’d love to hear from you.  Names matter, seems to me.



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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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Colbert talking about StoryCorps!

StoryCorps’ founder Dave Isay held up pretty good under Steven Colbert’s interviewing antics.  Isay talked about the new StoryCorps book MOM, and gives a great explanation of how StoryCorps began in New York’s Grand Central terminal.

You can see the interview here.

We’re pleased that the mobile unit will be in Fort Wayne during the month of July and   hope you will think about that special person that you want to interview as part of this remarkable project.  If you work with a population in our community that may not hear about StoryCorps, we’d love to help you help them connect with this unique oral history program.  Give us a call at 452-1189 or email me directly at

We’ve all got stories.


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No, that isn’t how it was supposed to sound.

Everybody makes mistakes.  Not everybody broadcasts them.  We do.

If you were listening this morning to Morning Edition, you heard a larger than life mistake, the airing of an unedited report that was mistakenly put into the rotation to be played (while the nicely edited version floated around somewhere else).

We’d feel badly about that (and worried) no matter what the segment was, but we’re particularly dismayed because it was our movie review, done weekly by the Cinema Center’s Catherine Lee.  That segment is one of our local treasures and one of the things that makes Morning Edition on Fridays such special listening. Catherine is an exquisite reviewer and we’re so proud to have her reviewing for you through us.

Not so proud of ourselves this morning.  No excuses, just apologies.

I don’t think it will happen again.  Something else, no doubt, but not this.

Hope your Friday night is a good one.


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Wanted: a big parking spot.

Can I just say that we are off-the-chart enthusiastic about StoryCorps?  The community meeting last night was great – thanks to all who came and all who wanted to – and then today our staff spent a couple of hours with Jenna Weiss-Berman, our StoryCorps site coordinator, and now we are really excited.  It is a wonderful opportunity for us – public radio – to host something that will benefit individuals, families, the community, and . . . posterity!

Tomorrow Jenna and I are going scouting for the perfect place for the StoryCorps Airstream mobile recording unit to “live” while StoryCorps is in Fort Wayne, July 6 – August 1. 

Here’s what we’re looking for:  Someplace welcoming to the entire community, someplace accessible and with some parking, a place that has restrooms available during the recording hours, which includes Saturday and Sunday, a place that perhaps has some iconic meaning in the community, a visible place so that people know StoryCorps is here.  There are a couple technical requirements, like access to some serious electrical hook-ups (let me know if you want the particulars), but it’s all pretty simple.

And they know some places are more of a security risk than others and seem OK with that.  They want to be close to the people whose stories they want to record. And to be honest, they kind of figure that people with resources will travel to wherever the unit is — they are more concerned with being accessible to people without resources.

They’ve parked the Airstream in lots of places, like library plazas, public parks, court-house lawns, cultural centers, schools, all kinds of places and we’ve got a pretty good list.But I keep thinking we might be missing someplace wonderful that I really should show Jenna.

Got any ideas?

Oh, the other thing they really look for is an enthusiastic partner.  They want to park the unit on the property of an organization that is truly excited about having them there.

Love to hear from you,



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