The KDHX History Project: Making the Case

Long story short(ish): I wanted to change the way I freelance in 2018. Part of that would simply mean working a little harder; that’s controllable. What’s not as self-contained is figuring out funding, as outlets continue to cut budgets and rates; concurrent to this, our culture’s become somewhat numbed to patron-based, crowdfunding appeals, what with so many good, solid things needing that group push.

That climate be damned, I set out on a crowdfunding appeal.

It’s pretty-simply named, this idea: The KDHX History Project. The notion is to gather pre-existing items from the KDHX archives, like posters, flyers and the old Airwaves magazines, digitizing as much as possible. And then adding interviews with a wide range of folks: volunteers; (current and former) programmers; (current and ex-) staffers; musicians who’ve appeared on the station; basically any stakeholders in the station’s 30-year history. And because this is an online project, why not add the vast array of media already available and online, but possibly scattered across multiple platforms.

At the end, it’ll be something of a book and something of a website. Free for all, in the spirit of the station.

Trying to line up about that many chapters, I sketched out a few immediately: the history and context of KDNA; histories of the buildings that’ve housed KDHX (on Magnolia, Delmar/Euclid, Washington); profiles of affiliated programs and businesses (Squatter’s Cafe, Folk School); remembrances of programmers who left our airwaves (and world) too soon; reminders of the local origination/cable access programs of lore. I’d love to address bigger picture items, like the role of radio today vs. at the time of the station’s debut. It’d be fun to summarize what the St. Louis music scene was like 31-years ago. And why not check in with stations of a similar bent, like WWOZ or KEXP?

And while some folks were kind enough to kick in on the early portion of the Indiegogo campaign, I didn’t do a few things that I should’ve done prior to launch. I might’ve shared sneak peeks with more key members of the KDHX stakeholding community; planting seeds, if you will, for the later effort. I heard from other folks who encouraged the project, but I didn’t nail down specific help that they could/would offer and I’m reaching back out to them now. And, to be honest, this type of fundraising’s a little tough for a private, self-conscious person to do; I can’t help but feel that the project’s up-or-down-success-or-failure future is somewhat tied to me, as a human, not just the project. In a social media age, I imagine a lot of us have had that feeling when shaking the digital cup. It’s awkward. It kinda sucks. It also makes some projects happen. Hopefully, this one.

I wanna do this project. I have a good resource for copyediting/proofing and research, a just-departed KDHX staffer in Allison Jane Wilson. I can dedicate the time needed to pull this off in a first-class way, if given the financial support to do so; that would allow to trim back on other, short-range work. To repeat: I wanna do this project.

So it’s time to get to real work. Time to close the gap of funding with two-weeks-and-change to go. Time to show some resolve and to get past high-school-era neuroses, on a personal level. Time to make the case, as… I wanna do this project!

-30-

A Vague Proposal of Modest-to-Major Change

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post; welcome back to 2008! In this note, I’d like to sketch out the fact that I currently make a living from two main outlets: as a freelance writer, with about 30 years experience, primarily covering arts and culture in St. Louis; and as the co-owner and operator of a reborn corner tavern in South City. After 17 years spent, oft-unhappily, as an adjunct professor, this recent, four-year run has had many positives; the fact that I’m writing this from a quaint coffeeshop in the middle of the day, with chickens crowing in the background, is an example of that. Life’s okay. Could be a lot worse.

But it could be a lot better, too. And it feels time to make some moves to that effect.

In terms of media/content production in editorial environments, the work’s seldom been tighter and pay rates have never been smaller. It’s a tougher side hustle than just a couple of years ago. And while bar management’s had some amazing moments, my legs aren’t getting younger and my nerves are fraying a bit. While I’m trying to be a better adult, I may as well as admit that I need to build up my finances, while doing work that has some built-in, social decency, if that’s at all possible. This is where I hope you, or someone like you, might be able to lead an old horse to some sweet, sweet water.

Things I’d like to do, would be open to do, or would do if the cash is correct (bolded for you shortcutters):

A couple of times, I’ve been hired to do a bit of ghostwriting. It’s weirdly fun. I’d be a ghost again, for sure. (Example of possible work: I could imagine a rich St. Louisan wanting their life story to be told/published. I could also imagine taking down their stories, shaping them, writing up a coherent summary of said life, all done under their name. Maybe this’d be a book, a site, a hybrid project. What do I know? I’m not rich!)

Akin to the above, I’ve done some research for books. I’m cool in helping others achieve their publishing goals, while staying as anonymous as a… ghost. (Example: compiling quotes or statistics, shaping content, allowing the writer to come at their text with a clearer, cleaner set of words and data. Have done it before, actually, and, no, I won’t tell you for whom/what.)

Your band is dead. Your restaurant is no more. Your dream project’s just long enough removed from existence that it escaped the digital age. It’d be super-duper fun to research, write and digitally represent such past projects, giving them a fitting online epitaph. ‘Cause right now, your baby’s digital footprint is a damned mess. (Examples: your band, your restaurant, your dream project; RIP.)

Sponsored content‘s odd, right? But it’s all over the place. While I don’t wanna live in the pocket of The Man, I’ve seen local niches where a bit of corporate sponsorship could/would go a long way. (Example: I’ve covered the comedy scene in St. Louis for the past couple of years, but stories have been waning and my beer bill at open mic’s isn’t getting smaller. For sure, I could envision a brewery, distillery or liquor distributor finding a natural tie-in to such coverage, be that for my current outlets, or for a standalone site. Ditto coverage of music.)

To switch inputs, I’ve gotten more comfortable as a bartender, even as I already feel pretty good about buying inventory and generally helping shape the look/feel/sound of a bar. I wouldn’t mind a weekly shift at a higher-volume spot, to improve on the former skill. In that kind of environment, it might actually be fun and educational to just do the job, nobody to manager but my own damned self. But… to be perfectly honest, I’d love to give another concept a shot. If there was a struggling, underperforming bar in Maplewood, central STL County or Soulard in need of a reboot, I think there’s a solution, one that wouldn’t be a passion project, but would generate some heat. (Example: no surprise, here. It’s this.)

If this note seems a bit scattered, consider that the problem with generalists, generally: we’re, uh, scattered. But interesting, creative and semi-employable. So get at me via this LinkedIn noise?

Oh, yeah, almost forgot: I’d move to New Orleans in a hot second! So you Louisiana folks, don’t feel left out of the help bubble.

-30-

 

 

The 2018 Book List

There’s this one guy I know. He’s asked me to post a books-read list for 2018; in fact, he’s asked me more than once. I’ve said that I’d do just that. Today, procrastination gives way to action. Here’s the updated list for the year.

I read a lot, though I’d love to read more. Maybe you’ll find something in here worth your time.

January: No Big Thing by Wm. Stage (novel); The Visible Man by Chuck Klosterman (novel); Alice Fantastic by Maggie Estep (novel); Salt by Mark Kurlansky (historical non-fiction); Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon (memoir); Point Omega by Don Delilio (novella); Fear of Music by Jonathan Lethem (cultural/music criticism); The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs (non-fiction and THE BEST book I’ve read in years)

February: Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Daniel Lyons (memoir/tech culture criticism); So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (media culture criticism); The Sellout by Paul Beatty (novel); The Professor in the Cage: Why Men Fight and Why We Like to Watch by Jonathan Gottschall (sports criticism/memoir); We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates (socio-political non-fiction)

March: Blind Spot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin R. Banaji & Anthony G. Greenwald (psychology); Hell to Pay by George Pelecanos (novel); The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman (collected non-fiction); The Tao of Bob by Spike Gillespie (memoir); Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers (novel); A Bomb in Every Issue: How the Short and Unruly Life of Ramparts Magazine Changed America by Peter Richardson (media history)

April: Black Gods of the Asphalt: Religion, Hip-Hop and Street Basketball, Onaje X.O. Woodbine (memoir, cultural criticism); Sputnik Sweetheart, Haruki Murakami (fiction); Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States, Bill Bryson (social history); Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff (experiential journalism); No Death, No Fear: Comforting Wisdom for Life, Thich Nhat Hanh (Buddhism, spirituality)

May: The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin (memoir/self-help); The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler (noir fiction); High Fidelity, Nick Hornby (my favorite book, re-read for the third, maybe fourth time)