VFR in the Valley Advocate, as “fixed-up” by me

UPDATE — Two of the below letters — Thank You Dean Nimmer (<–link goes to his book with the picture of my butt on the cover, to which he refers in his comment) and Dwight Smith — made it to the next issue in the WHAT DO YOU THINK? forward in each issue! Wow! To quote Sally Field at the Oscars years ago, “You like me, Tom Vannah, you really like me!” ;-)

and now, comments by my fabulously sweet pal Claudia Mendoza in Geneva, and the oh-so-lovable Sheryl Jaffe in Granby (paper artist extraordinaire), are in the comments section of the next next issue. Maybe I will reconsider starting up my blog column at the Valley Advocate again? :-)

Ramona is adamant that she is not a pest. She is a very imaginative girl and this usually gets her into trouble.

Even though I (lovably?) antagonize you (because you are like my pal, for my Ramona, The Pest persona) about arts coverage and all that. I am impressed! maybe I *will* restart my VA blog column — my “Blolgulmn”…?

Friendly Neighborhood Pirate Radio

Valley Free Radio’s low-power station keeps our local airwaves vital, interesting and honest.

Mo note — This appeared in the valley Advocate on December 23 but thee (typo, but I’m keeping it!) reporter did NOT use the picture he took of me in my fabulous new sweater from Goodwill, so I am pasting it here with photo added. And soon I intend to add a preamble here, detailing how this story came about and my pesky but lovable ‘relationship” with the editor, from the vantage point of various soapboxes….   ;-0

Also, ALL OF MY SHOWS CAN BE DOWNLOADED AND/OR LISTENED TO HERE, AND EACH HAS A BLURB ABOUT THE SHOW WITH PICTURES OF MY GUESTS AND/OR THEIR ACCOMPLISHMENTS/INTERESTS.

Comments (24)
Thursday, December 23, 2010
By Mark Roessler (Mo note — Mark is a fabulous writer and a great guy!)

Photo By Mark Roessler
An impromptu board meeting for Valley Free Radio. Left to right: Glen Ayers of Enviro Watch (Mo note — I totally love and admire d.o. and Glen Ayers of Enviro Show and they merit more text!), Arjuna Greist, Tony Udell, Bob Gardner, Sidra Eisman.

“I said, get here ahead of time. What happened? This is live radio, Mark. Where are you?” Mo Gareau (formerly Ringey) said.

I’d called her cell phone, and she answered me on the air—10 minutes into her morning interview show (Mo note — more like 2o minutes…), where I was supposed to be the guest. My first encounter, a few years ago, with Valley Free Radio was a bit of a fiasco.

I had gotten to the studio at 8:45 a.m. (Mo note — my show was 8-9 am and he called at 7:35. I’m just sayin…) and waited for Gareau to drive up in her car, proud I’d beaten her there (Mo note — ROFL). Only as 9 o’clock loomed and my car remained the only one in the parking lot did I realize that perhaps I was outside the wrong building

When I’d listened to the station or read about it, I’d always pictured the broadcast studio being located in the house next to the Lilly Library, the Florence Civic Center. But no. I’d pictured wrong.

Florence Community Center. Not in the pretty house downtown, but in the basement of the former grade school out near the Arts and Industry building. For reasons too tedious (read: pathetic) to explain, I ended up being a half-hour late to her hour-long interview talk show. (Mo note Mark, You must stop being so hard on yourself)

Recently, Gareau sent me links to some of her favorite episodes of her show, and included among the selections was my demi-visit. I didn’t think I could relive the humiliation. But after listening to the gentle, engaging way Gareau talked with such Valley luminaries as woodworker Silas Kopf and journalist Greg Saulman, I figured my only real penance could be to listen to my almost non-appearance.

I could picture Gareau sitting alone in that basement studio on a weekday morning, with only a tiny window high up the wall amongst the duct work, quietly freaking out (Mo note — I freaked out loudly and made a few frantic calls to pals to help, as i don’t do solo radio) as I’d been sitting in my car wondering where she was. As I listened to the MP3, I waited with terror to hear the pandemonium ensue when she realized I wasn’t coming any time soon and she deservedly dragged my name through the gutter (Mo note — I would never tear someone up on air, or off).

The photo with me in my fabulous new Goodwill sweater, which Mark Roessler did not include in the article. From Left to right, Johanna, Patrice, Me (Mo Gareau), Tony Shannon. I made that "chandelier" hanging over us. So... La-aaa-aa-di dah!

Instead, something else happened.

She called a friend to ask what to do, and he (Mo note — that was my fabulous pal who I call Mr. Sir) obliged by interviewing her on the air. A fellow artist, he asked her about an upcoming gallery exhibition she was soon to be staging.

Gareau’s interview technique is conversational, cunning (Mo note “cunning”? whoa. ) and a lot of fun. She baits you with personal information of her own and then jigs the line, taking things off on sudden tangents. She shares a thought of her own, often seeming to seize random ideas through free association and asking her guests what they think about the seemingly unrelated topic. The tactic is disarming. As you stumble for a response, she usually follows up with a more incisive or pointed personal question that—relieved you don’t have to decipher the first one—you spill your guts to answer. (Mo note — I had no idea I had a technique. This is how I talk to all my pals, and to myself. And my cat. And the plants. Even my fake trees.)

In my absence, having the tables turned on her, it was Gareau who was disarmed—she was guileless with her pal on the phone. He knew what lit her artistic fuse (Mo note — that was my fabulous pal who I call Mr. Sir), and with raw passion and naked enthusiasm (Mo note — that is just who and how I am) she described her show of beautiful period appliances covered in intricate webs of sparkling mosaics. It was far better radio than even my on-time company could have offered. She was a great guest on her own show.

When I did arrive, another of Gareau’s friends and emergency guests was there already. With the two of them riffing about hot dog carts and other topics, and me playing the hangdog bass in the background, chuckling like a mopey Ed McMahon, Gareau completed the show with humor and at least her dignity intact. (Mo note — Mark is being way too hard on himself. We had fun teasing him, oh so gently; we two teasifying chicks)

*

There’s an adrenaline rush and intimacy to live radio (Mo note — yes, it is scary — especially if you have to do it alone. I’m just sayin…). People performing before a live microphone are engaged in a high-wire act without the net of the pause or fast-forward buttons their podcasting colleagues employ. It’s an art that’s becoming endangered in this digital world, where it’s easy to edit and broadcast your own professional-sounding show for a multitude to stream or download on their computers.

My iPod and the wonder that is “shuffle” have changed my radio-listening life. (Mo note I need an ipod. Does anyone have one they aren’t using? It is not in my micro OR macro budgets)

Growing up, I went to bed and woke up listening to WNEW in New York City, 50 miles away from my bedroom. Listening until way too late on headphones in my bed, I fell in love with my imagined studio and idealized these DJs who brushed elbows with rock gods like Lennon and introduced nobodies like the Police, Squeeze and Joe Jackson. Way past midnight one early morning before school, I listened to an album skip endlessly for 45 minutes, only to be rescued by a napping DJ who said, smooth as hot butter, “It’s WNEW, where nobody’s perfect.”

Long before it became “The River,” I’d had a close personal relationship with WRSI—while I was a college student in the ’80s. From the phone booth outside my dorm room on a mountain top in southern Vermont, I’d call in requests to the staff holed up in a studio above Memory Lane in Greenfield. A favorite late night radio moment: After playing it a few times in a row without explanation, Buddy Rubbish threatened to rerun Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long” (Mo note — I remember that song!) all night long because “there is humor in repetition.”

At moments like that I felt connected with the distant DJs, sharing a moment in time with them and a handful of other late night listeners. Over time, through thick and thin, you developed a relationship with the broadcasters. (Mo note Mark, we did connect on air, very much so. You were actually a great guest, once I got you there, and an affable foil)

But then I got an iPod and discovered podcasts. Bit by bit, I stopped listening to the radio.

Podcasts are like radio programs, but instead of something you pick up with an antenna, they’re a series of digital audio files you download off the Internet to play at your leisure. It’s possible to find them on almost every imaginable subject. Now, when I travel distances, I load my iPod up with music and Podcasts and set it to play my selected list of media randomly. Voila—I have my own “radio station” personally catered to my tastes, moods and whims. When I walk to work in the morning, another stew of tunes I’ve prepared for myself is ready for me to listen to.

While some podcasts (very few) are recorded live without editing, you never get the sense you’re listening to something put out there that the makers were utterly embarrassed by. There’s no chance of hearing a serious glitch, and while there’s plenty of improvisation, the general public never witnesses the worst gaffes. This safe way of working, combined with not being restrained by a time limit, can sometimes result in podcasts that lack vitality and focus.

The perilous nature of an unedited live radio broadcast, though, can embolden and empower even the meekest personality (Mo note — the meek shall inherit the earth. I’m just sayin’), making what they say more vital (or at least seem that way) and sometimes more succinct. A live broadcast can also be a tonic for audiences accustomed to listening to pre-recorded material. Without a rewind button at hand, your attention to what’s being said and anticipation of what will happen next are far more acute than when you know you can come back later if you find your mind’s been wandering.

But even more, as self-satisfying as it is to hear only what you want to hear on your iPod in a mix, live community radio (Mo note VFR if YOUR community radio right In your backyard. Everyone should listen as we are YOU) puts your attention in other people’s hands, filling it with wild and wacky poetry, music and ideas. Instead of spending your time listening to some canned show recorded months ago by a distant geek you’re never likely to meet mumbling into his laptop’s microphone, you can share some quality time in the present with your neighbors broadcasting from up the street.

*

In 2000, a motley crew (Mo note We call ourselves a motley crew too! You are psychic, Mark! Might I call you every time I am facing befuddlement over decision-making moments?) of Northampton-based radio hopefuls applied for a license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a low-wattage community radio station. In 2004, after a long mulling, the FCC approved their application, giving them 18 months to get on the air before the license would be revoked. Much fundraising and logistical planning ensued, but in 2005, during one heroic weekend—with the help of technicians from Pacifica, the national community radio network—they went live on the air.

Being a Pacifica affiliate carries some weight (Mo note oh YEAH.). The Pacifica Foundation started in 1949 as an alternative to commercial radio, and they are pioneers in listener-supported community radio. As advocates for free speech, they describe themselves thus:

“Pacifica’s mission is to promote peace and justice through communication between all races, nationalities and cultures. We strive to contribute to the democratic process through public discourse and promotion of culture. Unbeholden to commercial or governmental interests, we recognize that use of the airwaves is a public trust.”

As a blossoming venture struggling to be born, Valley Public Radio offered lots of opportunities for a news reporter to chronicle, but once they became a viable concern, their news value diminished. And some of those who worked to see the station realized were disenchanted when it became actual. (Mo note I don’t really grasp this, but then, I am often grasp-less.)

When it was still a fantasy—something that was going to happen—people were able to cherish their own vision for the station. The hope seemed to be that the craziest ideas would get sifted out and never come to be. More even-keeled personalities would take over. But when the station went on the air and became a living, breathing enterprise, to some on the outside it appeared that instead of the practical, sober approach they’d been imagining, something else—more organic, perhaps— had taken place. The public is welcome to meetings and the agenda is open; the minutes for the board meetings are posted regularly on the station’s home page (valleyfreeradio.org). Those minutes give a view of leaderless self-governance in action. It’s a bit messy, goes on tangents, but seems to shamble forward. (Mo note — we like to think of it as creatively and humbly deer-in-headlights-without-a-GPS-style. I’m just sayin’)

 

On a dark and stormy night at the end of November (Mo note — I love love love that Mark led in with that phrase), I found Mo Gareau’s new studio hidden behind a blank storefront in downtown Holyoke (Mo note — I am in the infamous “Flast”, but no matter. I’m just sayin’). At her invitation, I crashed a Valley Free Radio fundraising party. There were a pile of photocopied letters and boxes of addressed envelopes. After digging into the snacks and libations Gareau had on hand, the board members, broadcasters and friends of the radio station found a seat and started assembling pleas to their supporters for another dose of funding for the volunteer-run public station.

Bob Gardner (Mo note — Bob is awesome!) ambled over to me—tall, buttoned-up, clean-shaven, he had the steady, relaxed calm of a Western sheriff (Mo note — I LOVE that description! Sheriff Bob! Yay!). He’d been with the station since its start and was on the board of directors. Could he be of service and answer any of my questions?

Blaming the economy, Gardner said that revenue from fundraising was down this year, but he added that they were somewhat sheltered from hard times by relying chiefly on a small army of passionate volunteer helpers. (Mo note — I am mad at the economy)

The nonprofit radio station pays for utilities, rent and Internet access. Each year it pays copyright licensing fees for the music it plays, but because of its low-voltage transmission (100 watts) and low range, the costs are minimal. There’s a grant-funded part-time position, but otherwise, no one there is collecting a check. (Mo note — except for a soundcheck. hardy-har-har)

There are more than 30 shows on the station, many of them from home-grown talent, and the station actively recruits new DJs from its listeners, offering training and possibly slots in the lineup. Gardner is proud of the diversity of its offerings and cites inclusion as part of its mission. The off-kilter, somewhat random potpourri of shows isn’t a liability, he asserts; it’s key to the station’s success.

If you’re not familiar with the station’s schedule, there’s no knowing what you might be tuning in to when you turn to 103.3 FM in Northampton. Could be you’re listening to environmentalists, communists or J-Magic’s music jambalaya (Mo note OR, you might tune into the AMAZING and exhaustive reporting on serious issues on The Enviro Show, by d.o. and Glen Ayers).

J-Magic of music jambalaya

Maybe you’re getting an earful of the Baha’i perspective, poetry readings or metal music. The first time I recently tuned in after a long absence, I listened to old tango records for an hour over lunch, enjoying the whispering hiss and grit of the vinyl.

Is there any kind of show Bob Gardner and his fellow board members wouldn’t allow on the air?

“Maybe if it’s too mainstream. Part of our mission is also to provide programming you can’t get anywhere else.” Then he laughs and shrugs, “But if someone one wanted to do a show of mainstream pop music (Mo note — Ew.), I don’t know, maybe they could go on at two in the morning.”

Keeping what they’ve got going is his chief objective, he said. Some involved with the station dream of getting a full-power license, boosting their transmission up to 1000 watts (Mo note donations welcome), but Gardner seems indifferent to growth. Along with the additional cost, Gardner is mindful of how long the FCC can take to grant licenses. He also points out that, in an effort to satisfy as many applicants as possible, the government agency can mandate that more than one group share the space on the radio dial with other prospective broadcasters.

“We have an exclusive license, but sometimes when two groups apply, they split up the license,” Gardner said. “That’s what happened up in Greenfield [with WMCB 107.9 LPFM]. For 12 hours it’s a Christian station and 12 hours it’s a community station.”

*

Many I spoke with that night (Mo note Mark, again, I laughed out loud when you honored my half-serious request that you begin the article with that old Snoopy-writing-his-novel-at op-his-doghouse line, “On a dark and stormy night…”, that makes you SO awesome! ) said they felt that when they first had heard of Valley Free Radio, they’d felt a calling. Some, like Bob Gardner, don’t appear on the air, but their devotion for community radio keeps them working in other capacities. Others crave the limelight and their chance at the megaphone. As human beings, they feel whole broadcasting their own shows. They give their programs everything, letting it all hang out, and free from the constraints and demands of commercial radio, their shows have strengthened and matured, becoming as strange and beautiful as their hosts.

Johanna Halbeisen, (Mo note Johanna is so uniquely and wisely awesome) whose show Sing About It originated in 1983 on the other side of the river at WMUA, the “voice of” UMass-Amherst, joked that a chief attraction VFR held for her initially was “not to have to drive across the bridge all the time.” She has been involved since the early days, long before there was a station. She describes her show as focusing on “social justice, topical folk music.” During her off-air hours, Halbeisen runs the New Song Library, a vast collection of songs “about people’s lives, hopes and struggles,” which is available as a repository for songwriters’ work but also as a resource for singers and activists looking for music to support their cause.

Sidra Eisman (Mo note — Sidra Eisman is THE BOMB!) had hosted a reggae show when she was in college, and when she heard there might be a community station in Northampton, she said, “the hairs stood up on the back of my neck and I just knew I’d get involved.” She’d kept her distance initially, though: “I was kind of scared it was too good to be true.” But as a guest on a show hosted by blues singer Marla BB, she couldn’t resist the attraction. She now begins every Friday morning with her show Sidra at Home at 8 am. She plays music from all over the world and interviews performers, “particularly those that educate. And now I’m on the board. And I love it. I love my people. I am home.” (Mo note I truly love and admire the amazingly original bomb that is Sidra Ellison [formerly Eisman])

Arjuna Greist has been on the air since two days after the station’s birth. Her Monday night show, Patchwork Majority Radio, runs from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. and features music, stories and poetry to inspire and support social justice movements. Shows often follow a topical theme, and between the music and interviews with local artists, she provides commentary of her own. Some of the artists she most admires (and regularly plays) include Lenelle Mo?se, Pamela Means and Michael Franti. She’s also been on the VFR board for two years.

Tony Shannon (Mo note — I just lurrrrve my Tony Shannon!) was on the board for three and a half years, “but,” he says, “I’m done with that now.” He identifies himself with Bob Gardner as someone who is more comfortable off the mic. He’s responsible for maintaining many of the station’s broadcast systems, especially keeping the automated, syndicated shows running when no one else is around. He says he enjoys being a part of their “unintentional community,” and everyone clearly values him. All the show hosts make an effort (often within earshot of him) to impress upon me how indebted they are to Tony’s services.

While keeping others on the air is his chief function, Shannon (Mo note Tony Shannon is a very skilled masseur, and also keeps VFR running with his mind-boggling hours of volunteer work and his passionate commitment to “herding kittens”, which is what it takes to keep VFR running) has managed to figure out a way to host a show without actually appearing on it himself. He uses the female vocal talents of the all-digital, computer-generated Cherries Jubilee to DJ a selection of ’80s New Wave Italo-disco music Fridays evenings at 8.

“I was attracted to Valley Free Radio,” Tony Udell said, “because I’m an inveterate communist, (Mo note Yes he is, in a very good way) and I was trying to spread my anti-capitalist virus to the rest of the world. I’ve found such a pleasant little home with all these other misfits (Mo note I am proud to be a misfit. Oh, so proud) . I do a show called Seeing Red Radio, which is the revolutionary, socialist-marxist perspective—all the different shades of red—and I’m also doing an Afro-beat show on Saturdays, which is more a recent phenomenon. The politics show is a calling—where else can you hear communism on the radio?”

Udell’s been involved since the start, and also had prior college experience. Over the years, he’s been on the board and been a program director, but the role he continues to embrace beyond his shows is as the group’s head trainer. The first Sunday of every month, they open the studios from noon until three, and he makes himself and the studio available to anyone who’s interested. It’s a complex system, cobbled together from donated equipment, but Udell will patiently hold anyone’s hand, get them familiar with the controls and show them how to broadcast.

“We have an open door policy,” he said. “And from my own, personal political perspective that’s important; I believe we have a capacity for self-organization. We don’t need to wait until we get paid. We can get this done, driven by our own passion for the truth.”

*

Driving home from Mo Gareau’s party (Mo note — Mark drove himself home), I was resolved to listen to more Valley Free Radio—and trying to remember where to find it on the dial. (Mo note:  103.3 FM, streaming at www.valleyfreeradio.org)

In less than an hour, I’d met almost a dozen radio personalities (Mo note — we ARE personalities, wrapped in people) who felt confident that if they were just given a chance, they’d take care of their audience for as long as they’d listen. Instead of swimming around in my own headspace on my iPod, they invited me and everyone else to tune in and step inside their noggins for a while.

Though they play by the FCC’s rules, they project the feel of a pirate station broadcasting from just off the coast. Unburdened by the demands of a corporate owner or the need to satisfy an advertiser’s politics, they call things as they see them. The promo for Udell’s Seeing Red Radio show doesn’t just promise to report news you won’t hear elsewhere, but news that’s “being actively suppressed.” If a DJ thought a recent community meeting might be of interest, he would play the whole dang thing. The music is often radical, and often selected with wit and satire in mind.

Running around town on holiday errands, instead of Bing Crosby crooning to me as I sat stuck in traffic, someone at VFR was playing Hayes Carll’s new country tune, “She Left Me for Jesus.” He bemoaned his loved one’s fixation with this new guy who wears sandals and has long, pretty hair:

She says I should find him
And I’ll know peace at last.

If I ever find Jesus,
I’m kicking his ass.

(Mo note — as the FCC isn’t much enthralled of indie radio, if we had let that word by and not bleeped it, we’d be hit with a #344,000 fine!)

Not a song many businesses would want to stick an ad after, and not one I’d ever have heard, except when I was listening to someone else’s set list. But the song fit my soured mood for the pre-holiday frenzy perfectly. Take a listen for yourself. 103.3 FM in Northampton.

Editor’s Note: Last week, the Local Community Radio Act was passed by the U.S. Senate, expanding the low-power FM (LPFM) service created by the FCC in 2000. It will make broadcast licenses available to thousands of groups nationally, such as schools, churches, local governments and non-profit organizations. The bill repeals earlier legislation supported by corporate broadcasters who claimed the proliferation of 100-watt stations would affect their broadcasts, a claim debunked in a 2003 Congressionally mandated study. The Local Community Radio Act was also approved by the House; at press time only the president’s signature was needed for it to become law.

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Comments (26)
Post a Comment

Thanks so much for joining us Mark, and for a fabulous article! I would like to mention an important fact — as programmers at VFR we fund ourselves as well, by way of paying annual membership fees in order to be involved with the station, whether it be on air or not, and so we do rely on our own monetary contributions to pay our bills, in addition to our outreach efforts for donations.

We also play a minimum of two Public Service Announcements per hour for all community organizations who (whom?) send us their info by way of our website, so we support our community by free promotion of all non-profit events, as well as by having local characters on for hour-long chat so they may promote their myriad activities and talents. Such support is why we feel comfortable in asking for donations from the community of which are we a part and which we so happily serve.

Also, I laughed out loud when you honored my half-serious request that you begin the article with that old Snoopy-writing-his-novel-at op-his-doghouse line, “On a dark and stormy night…”, and you surely did brave sideways rain and wind to join us, for which we are all very grateful. We often feel the community hardly knows we are here, like so many Whos in Whoville.

Due to further decline caused by a degenerative spinal disease which makes even driving difficult most days, I have stepped aside and given up my 5 year broadcast slot for Bill Dwight, who shall now be on air during that time, and I will be podcasting my interviews, as recorded in my studio by those also willing to make the trek to the flats of Molyoke (not downtown, though thanks for giving me a geographic promotion), via my blog at benigngirl.com, at the Mo radio link, and have a fabulous 2 hour interview with the famous, hilarious, and cerebrally-intriguing Gary Farmer of stage, movie, tv, and now blues band fame. <— I just had to shout that out, as it is the most amazing interview I have ever had, aside from my frantic ad-libbing on the day you went to the wrong place for your appearance on my show and I said, on air, “What were you thinking? This is LIVE radio!”. ;-)

Thanks again!

your pal, the now-rhyming,

Mo Gareau

p.s. Since you didn’t use the picture of me in my fabulous new sweater, I will repost this on my blog and include it, and will also shotoshop you in wearing a lampshade!

Posted by Mo Gareau on 12.21.10 at 16:08

Sigh. Did I mention that spinal disease comes with arthritis which makes typos appear like rainbows as I type, causing me to then type, “damint!” after each typo?

I meant “photoshop”, no shotoshop, as the bluebird on my shoulder just pointed out to me. ;-)

Posted by Mo Gareau on 12.21.10 at 16:12

Me again, My show was 8-9 am, BTW.

Posted by Mo Gareau on 12.21.10 at 16:17

Mark, I loved this piece. You captured exactly the spirit of WXPN in Philly that really drew me to radio, as you know, more than the commercial dial but something sacred. Which i think it is. In its way.

Posted by Sarah B on 12.22.10 at 8:31

I am a firm beliver in independent, non-commercial community radio. Valley free Radio’s eclectic programming is a oasis from the vast wasteland that is commercial radio in this country.

The “Mo” show,is the most unique of the programming schedule in my opinion. The 8:00AM slot is perfect, as we here at Smith College tune in faithfully. Mo is known for her range of radio guests, which include artists,writers, musicians, and I once heard her interview with CBS’s Brandon
Butcher. It was entertaining and a learning experience.
She is able to call upon the most interesting guests. She has a warming easy-going personality, she is engaging,spontaneous, well spoken, and at times quirky.
I like quirky ,I like Mo!

i was priveledged to sit in on Mo’s recorded inerview with the famous Gary Farmer abd it was easily the most amazing interview i have ever witnessed, Gary has been gushing ever since that he has never had such a unique interview and that he has never been treated so nicely because Mo made him a cappuccino and set out an array of food, knowing he has been on the road with his blues band for weeks. He was so enjoying himself that he accidentally blew off two other press appointments and then asked her to consider doing a documentary of his life. Gary is still gushing that it felt like being part of a facinating conversation rather than answering the same old questions he has been answering since his movie days in which he starred alongside Johnny Depp and various others, even when he worked in a jim Jarmusch film. She has a way about her that makes guest feel special and like they are the most fascinating people she has ever met and that’s because it is how she is, as she says she eschews formailty of any sort. her show is like eavesdropping on a conversation at the next table in a cafe and is riveting. I look forward to her podcasts on her blog. I am trying to convine her to try cable tv, if her neurological condition will allow. i think she is more natural than the often awkward larry king or oprah winfrey, seriously.

Posted by Mr Sir on 12.22.10 at 10:35

Mo is a unique treasure and singular talent.

Posted by Fletcher Smith on 12.22.10 at 11:08

Mo is a delight to work with in any capacity. Thoughtful, sensitive, warm and funny, I have no doubt that she puts her radio guests at ease immediately. How is it that all that talent can be wrapped in such a small, charming package? Her insightful approach to life and art are especially commendable.

Posted by Julia C on 12.22.10 at 11:13

Great article, Mark! You capture the essence of live community radio.

We are sorry to lose the Mo Show due to Mo’s physical complications. She was one of several shows doing live interviews. My Good News show (Thurs, 7 pm) has recently interviewed William Spademen of Common Good Bank, and Lilly Lombard of Grow Food Northampton, both local activists. The Enviro Show and Farm to Fork (both on Tuesday, 6:30 pm) do local interviews. Sidra (Fridays, 8 am) has been interviewing a whole range of community folks.

Posted by Johanna Halbeisen on 12.22.10 at 11:36

Thanks Johanna!

I’d like to reiterate that though we have only a 100 watt range, all of these fabulous shows can be streamed at http://www.valleyfreeradio.org, with just a few clicks. :-D

Posted by Mo Gareau on 12.22.10 at 11:48

Wonderful article. I have not been able to tune into Valley Free Radio much since I am out of their broadcasting range and working too hard on my computer to be able to pay attention by dialing in on line. Mo is the one reason I would make the attempt. The few times I caught her were amazing and one of those instances was Mo interviewing Elinor Lipman. Yes—Mo’s interviews were intimate and cozy and like sitting in a coffee shop talking with a couple of good friends. Her insights are deep, from a perspective that makes you say Whoa! I’m so sorry to hear that she’s given up her slot although Bill Dwight is a worthy replacement. Hopefully, she’ll resurface—her voice is just too good to lose.

Posted by Susan on 12.22.10 at 11:56

The article is great and well written, as is all of Mark’s work, although the biggest thing to ever come from Valley Free Radio is completely missing — The David Pakman Show. It has made a national impact, it is on national radio and TV, it started at VFR, and he is on his way to be the next Rachel Maddow. I would like to see a feature story about his show.

Posted by Diego Kirzen on 12.22.10 at 12:32

I think the best time I ever had talking about myself was on Mo’s show. She has the knack of putting people at ease and drawing out their humor. She listens between the lines. After the interview I felt like I could just go kick watermelons a half mile and speak in tongues.

Posted by gary hallgren on 12.22.10 at 13:24

Mo’s show was always fun and insightful. I loved hearing how she conversed with her guests and became genuinly excited for whatver adventure they faced in life. I always looked forward to tuning in at 8am with a cup of coffee. Listening in always made me feel like I was back in the valley for a little while. I’m glad to know your podcasts will continue Mo!

Posted by Alan White on 12.22.10 at 13:47

I don’t live in the valley. In fact living in Montreal I haven’t a hope of picking up the signal but for a while somewhere back then Mo would send me copies of her show and I found them a pure delight. I know nothing about the valley, have never been there, only know Mo and yet listening to her shows made me feel transported into a local cafe in your community and getting to know various personalties through the filter of Mo’s clever wit and indefatigable intelligence. I suspect her laugh alone is equal to four coffees. Her brilliance as an interviewer is to remain true to her own voice. I suspect this is the main reason her guests sounded perfectly at ease. I think it was Emerson who said that character was what we see in someone when they don’t know we’re watching. Over the airwaves, Mo’s character is remarkable and true. Thank you Mo for giving all that you do.

Posted by dwight Smith on 12.22.10 at 16:51

Will someone please pull The Enviro Show from off the spike? Ouch! That hurts!

Posted by d.o. on 12.22.10 at 19:16

okay, i am adding comments about the enviro show here, and on my blog for which i will interview you about it d.o., cuz you are an awesome pal and your show rocks! (edited as if I wrote it about you, though you wrote it for the article):

Here’s the deal with The Enviro Show. Glen, d.o. & Jean Grossholtz have been active enviros forever. Jean has a long history of environmental activism, part of which she was recently honored for by the National Priorities Project. D.o. was a founding member of Mass Earth First! during it’s second incarnation in the ’90s and Glen got involved during the Mt. Wachusetts old-growth debacle. It was only…err…natural? that they’d end up doing an environmental show on VFR when it came on the air in 2005. They must’ve been doing something right ‘cuz within a few years The Advocate awarded them both a Halo and Horns! (actually the Horns was a typo in their on-line version but they took it as a dirt worshiping, tree-hugger’s trouble-making badge on honor). The show, and of course VFR, have given the enviro show a platform to air seemingly radical, Earthcentric, outlooks and information to listeners in the Valley; something they do not get from any other media source in western Massachusetts. Local and regional environmental news is almost always based in anthropocentric terms and liberal, or worse moderate, in tone. There’s is a reason they’ve chosen REM’s “The End of the World as We Know it” as our opening theme song: humanity is pushing life on planet Earth over the cliff. Their job: save the world! ;)

–and, if it weren’t for people like d.o., Glen Ayers, and Jean Grossholtz trying to save the world and get us all to help, it would not have a chance.

Posted by Mo Gareau on 12.22.10 at 19:32

VFR is so important. I had the good fortune to be a guest on Mo’s show twice. I had such a postive experience both times. As an artist, when I’m involved in a project it can be challenging to articulate what my work is about as it is developing. During both interviews I was still processing specific aspects of my projects and Mo prompted me and provided me the opportunity to put to words what my work was about- I found I had so much more to say then I knew, and it became an important part of my process. Bravo for getting people talking with such vigor during such an earlly morning show as well!

Posted by Maggie on 12.22.10 at 22:38

VFR is gift to the world because it maintains a sense of PLACE; it’s a beautiful oasis of diversity co-existing in harmony and shows the world to embrace our differences — and to celebrate them. Most importantly, VFR reminds us that WE ALL BELONG. Viva VFR!

Posted by Brit Hammer on 12.23.10 at 5:10

Mark, that was a great article that highlights one of the best community radio stations in the Pioneer Valley.

I was particularly interested to hear your amusing account about being a guest on the Mo Show that struck a cord with me. I was a guest on her show when I was promoting my new book, Art from Intuition and, in a manner of speaking, I showed up late as well.

I’m a longtime friend and admirer of the lovable Ms Mo, and I know firsthand the wit and humor that made her show appealing to so many listeners. Of course, Mo’s painterly gesture in snug-fitting jeans, grace the front of my book as well, and I thought this is a natural way for us to “Talk Radio” together, but it didn’t quite come together as I hoped.

Knowing my reputation for non-punctuality, Mo was at my door bright and early offering a firm, “Get in, we’ve got to go!” as a counter to my offering – “I made us some coffee” greeting. And though it was sleeting out and very slippery, a determined Mo put her pedal-to-the-metal, frantically driving around the cautious wimps heeding the speed limit that day.

Upon arriving, I kind of remember some confusion about the key to the studio missing and problems with an amplifier or tapes not working that got me pretty nervous. Though Mo was a bit agitated, she calmly got it all together minutes before we went on the air, and all of a sudden we were live!

“Hi, this is the Mo Show with my guest, Dean Nimmer!” And like a deer in the headlights, I exclaimed something like, “Hi to you too, too!” and we were off to a – Did I just say that? – radio broadcast. Mo tried to get me at ease with some small talk about the weather and hellos to friends that might be listening but I completely froze up when we got into discussing my art and book. It wasn’t Mo’s fault, but I just couldn’t be spontaneous or funny talking about this book that took me 5-years to write and I probably talked more about how much I liked the book’s cover than I did about what’s between the pages. It took a bunch of Mo’s prodding me during a Van Morrison record break to get the message – “C’mon, lighten up!”- that may have salvaged the last half of the interview – i.e. I was a half hour late in arriving too.

Given that awkward debut, I’m probably not headed to replace Larry King, but I now fully appreciate the fact that Mo (Ringey) Gareau is a terrific radio host, and her Benign Girl blog showcases her exceptional talents as a writer to boot.

So, Go Mo, GO!

Dean Nimmer

Posted by Dean Nimmer on 12.23.10 at 15:12

Brit,

Beacuse you did not mention that you appeared on my show from Rotterdam via skype, to discuss your book, “MOSAIC: FINDING YOUR OWN VOICE”,I will give you a plug and a link —- > Brit is a fabulous artist and author who has written many books about the art of Mosaics, as well as feature articles for such magazines as New England Home Magazine. The book she discussed on my show can be found at http://www.brithammer.com/mosaic/

And thanks Dean, especially for not mentioning that the jeans on your book cover — at http://www.artfromintuition.com were held together by duct tape. And you were NOT a bad guest. I thought your deer-in-headlights persona was entertainingly comedic.

:-D

Posted by Mo Gareau on 12.23.10 at 16:00

Although I’ve been in the Valley 10 years now, I must sheepishly admit that I’ve never tuned in to Valley Free Radio. I’m just not a radiohead. But I’m not a podcast-listening I-Podder, either. I’m one of those increasingly rare specimens who gets most all of my info visually: reading. That said, after reading your article in this week’s Advocate, Mark, I’m actually going to make a point to tune in. Communication which is not beholden to commerce counts way high in my book!

And I must put in my two cents about the Mo Show — it is indeed a loss to know that Mo has been forced to fold her show, even tho’ I’ve never heard it. I first learned about the phenomenon that is Mo thru’ the weekly arts listings e-newsletter that she started (now passed on to other capable hands and renamed The Valley Arts Newsletter). Her passion for and dedication to promoting arts and culture in the Valley, over many years, with great organizational talent, wordsmithing extraordinaire, and an ability to link ideas and people have been a great gift beyond measure. i’ve been thankful that she has maintained her blog, which I relish, even while needing to let other things go.

I look forward to tuning in to VFR and getting to know other local luminaries who undoubtedly have wonderful gifts of their own that they are able to share thanks to the VFR platform. Thanks all, for your passion, creativity and voices! You’re part of what makes the Valley great!

Posted by Sarah Bliss on 12.23.10 at 20:36

Mo rocks and she does make each person she touches feel special. She approaches her guests with admiration, and sincere curiosity about their accomplishments and opinions. In fact, I’ll bet her interviewees leave feeling eager and able to leap higher and higher as a result of Mo’s enthusiasm.

Her quirky wit is what I most admire. She looks at things as if she were standing on her head, so they come into focus in a new and unique way. Witty, iconoclastic, and really tuned in. The only thing I enjoy more than hearing her show is reading her blog. And if I don’t respond, it’s because I can’t do it as well as she does. Mo, I don’t have the time to blog, twitter, chirp, or do the networking that keeps you in the loop of so many talented and loopy people. But, I hope you’ll keep those of us who are bogged down very blogged up. Your take on it all is a sublime treat, like chocolate with grappa inside.

Posted by anne burton on 12.26.10 at 20:55

I had the opportunity to be part of Mo’s show twice, and enjoyed both despite being afraid of a microphone! Mo has the ability to make you confortable, is witty and sharp, asks the right questions even though she may get the wrong answers! She is fun to work with and from the other side, entertaining and informative to read or listen to. More Mo!

Posted by Jean-Pierre Pasche on 12.27.10 at 11:39

Thanks all of you for your comments. After a very long hiatus due to my italic spine, I fully intend to start blogging again soon! :-D

And the reason my show was so fun is because I have crazy luck and meet the most amazing people and have a knack for convincing said most amazing people to come on air and trust me that it will be fun and that, “no one is listening anyway…”. In fact, to make it less terrifying for me and my guests, I never turned on the lights in the broadcast studio bc somehow, sitting there in the dim light from the basement transom, it seemed more like play and less like being live. :-)

y’all are so damn lovable! I am a very lucky person indeed!

xxxoooo all!

Posted by Mo Gareau on 12.27.10 at 14:37

If your president ever finds the way to your excellent article, he will certainly sign, to make such a creative radio experience spread all over the country! Thank’s for telling us, foreigners, how real people in the USA can be free and live their own way, far from the stereotypes so commonly shown by the news and the (de)press. Anyhow, please congratulate Mo & Co for their work -even if I can’t listen to their radio (Switzerland is really almost another world).

Posted by Claudia Mendoza on 12.29.10 at 20:14

Wow, I only just got to reading the article in the advocate and these fabulous posts. Mo is truly amazing, it was a gas being a guest on her show, I hope she’ll invite me again and we’ll rattle more than just paper. Mark’s article took me back, i often wish I had a transistor like I did at 12 years old, and would listen continuously, especially under my pillow. I love the randomness of listening to live radio and spend my 45 min daily commute wandering across the dials. Mark Roessler’s description of Mo’s interviewing style reminded me of Diane Arbus’ photographing style: relax your subject, reach in for the real stuff and make it shine. What Diane did visually, Mo does with words, but with gleeful fun and fast-thinking intelligence. Mo is a wizard, and I hope she keeps writing, I’ll be tuning in.

Happy New Year-to good things

Posted by sheryl on 12.31.10 at 17:53
Comments (26)

Thanks so much for joining us Mark, and for a fabulous article! I would like to mention an important fact — as programmers at VFR we fund ourselves as well, by way of paying annual membership fees in order to be involved with the station, whether it be on air or not, and so we do rely on our own monetary contributions to pay our bills, in addition to our outreach efforts for donations.

We also play a minimum of two Public Service Announcements per hour for all community organizations who (whom?) send us their info by way of our website, so we support our community by free promotion of all non-profit events, as well as by having local characters on for hour-long chat so they may promote their myriad activities and talents. Such support is why we feel comfortable in asking for donations from the community of which are we a part and which we so happily serve.

Also, I laughed out loud when you honored my half-serious request that you begin the article with that old Snoopy-writing-his-novel-at op-his-doghouse line, “On a dark and stormy night…”, and you surely did brave sideways rain and wind to join us, for which we are all very grateful. We often feel the community hardly knows we are here, like so many Whos in Whoville.

Due to further decline caused by a degenerative spinal disease which makes even driving difficult most days, I have stepped aside and given up my 5 year broadcast slot for Bill Dwight, who shall now be on air during that time, and I will be podcasting my interviews, as recorded in my studio by those also willing to make the trek to the flats of Molyoke (not downtown, though thanks for giving me a geographic promotion), via my blog at benigngirl.com, at the Mo radio link, and have a fabulous 2 hour interview with the famous, hilarious, and cerebrally-intriguing Gary Farmer of stage, movie, tv, and now blues band fame. <— I just had to shout that out, as it is the most amazing interview I have ever had, aside from my frantic ad-libbing on the day you went to the wrong place for your appearance on my show and I said, on air, “What were you thinking? This is LIVE radio!”. ;-)

Thanks again!

your pal, the now-rhyming,

Mo Gareau

p.s. Since you didn’t use the picture of me in my fabulous new sweater, I will repost this on my blog and include it, and will also shotoshop you in wearing a lampshade!

Posted by Mo Gareau on 12.21.10 at 16:08

Sigh. Did I mention that spinal disease comes with arthritis which makes typos appear like rainbows as I type, causing me to then type, “damint!” after each typo?

I meant “photoshop”, no shotoshop, as the bluebird on my shoulder just pointed out to me. ;-)

Posted by Mo Gareau on 12.21.10 at 16:12

Me again, My show was 8-9 am, BTW.

Posted by Mo Gareau on 12.21.10 at 16:17

Mark, I loved this piece. You captured exactly the spirit of WXPN in Philly that really drew me to radio, as you know, more than the commercial dial but something sacred. Which i think it is. In its way.

Posted by Sarah B on 12.22.10 at 8:31

I am a firm beliver in independent, non-commercial community radio. Valley free Radio’s eclectic programming is a oasis from the vast wasteland that is commercial radio in this country.

The “Mo” show,is the most unique of the programming schedule in my opinion. The 8:00AM slot is perfect, as we here at Smith College tune in faithfully. Mo is known for her range of radio guests, which include artists,writers, musicians, and I once heard her interview with CBS’s Brandon
Butcher. It was entertaining and a learning experience.
She is able to call upon the most interesting guests. She has a warming easy-going personality, she is engaging,spontaneous, well spoken, and at times quirky.
I like quirky ,I like Mo!

i was priveledged to sit in on Mo’s recorded inerview with the famous Gary Farmer abd it was easily the most amazing interview i have ever witnessed, Gary has been gushing ever since that he has never had such a unique interview and that he has never been treated so nicely because Mo made him a cappuccino and set out an array of food, knowing he has been on the road with his blues band for weeks. He was so enjoying himself that he accidentally blew off two other press appointments and then asked her to consider doing a documentary of his life. Gary is still gushing that it felt like being part of a facinating conversation rather than answering the same old questions he has been answering since his movie days in which he starred alongside Johnny Depp and various others, even when he worked in a jim Jarmusch film. She has a way about her that makes guest feel special and like they are the most fascinating people she has ever met and that’s because it is how she is, as she says she eschews formailty of any sort. her show is like eavesdropping on a conversation at the next table in a cafe and is riveting. I look forward to her podcasts on her blog. I am trying to convine her to try cable tv, if her neurological condition will allow. i think she is more natural than the often awkward larry king or oprah winfrey, seriously.

Posted by Mr Sir on 12.22.10 at 10:35

Mo is a unique treasure and singular talent.

Posted by Fletcher Smith on 12.22.10 at 11:08

Mo is a delight to work with in any capacity. Thoughtful, sensitive, warm and funny, I have no doubt that she puts her radio guests at ease immediately. How is it that all that talent can be wrapped in such a small, charming package? Her insightful approach to life and art are especially commendable.

Posted by Julia C on 12.22.10 at 11:13

Great article, Mark! You capture the essence of live community radio.

We are sorry to lose the Mo Show due to Mo’s physical complications. She was one of several shows doing live interviews. My Good News show (Thurs, 7 pm) has recently interviewed William Spademen of Common Good Bank, and Lilly Lombard of Grow Food Northampton, both local activists. The Enviro Show and Farm to Fork (both on Tuesday, 6:30 pm) do local interviews. Sidra (Fridays, 8 am) has been interviewing a whole range of community folks.

Posted by Johanna Halbeisen on 12.22.10 at 11:36

Thanks Johanna!

I’d like to reiterate that though we have only a 100 watt range, all of these fabulous shows can be streamed at http://www.valleyfreeradio.org, with just a few clicks. :-D

Posted by Mo Gareau on 12.22.10 at 11:48

Wonderful article. I have not been able to tune into Valley Free Radio much since I am out of their broadcasting range and working too hard on my computer to be able to pay attention by dialing in on line. Mo is the one reason I would make the attempt. The few times I caught her were amazing and one of those instances was Mo interviewing Elinor Lipman. Yes—Mo’s interviews were intimate and cozy and like sitting in a coffee shop talking with a couple of good friends. Her insights are deep, from a perspective that makes you say Whoa! I’m so sorry to hear that she’s given up her slot although Bill Dwight is a worthy replacement. Hopefully, she’ll resurface—her voice is just too good to lose.

Posted by Susan on 12.22.10 at 11:56

The article is great and well written, as is all of Mark’s work, although the biggest thing to ever come from Valley Free Radio is completely missing — The David Pakman Show. It has made a national impact, it is on national radio and TV, it started at VFR, and he is on his way to be the next Rachel Maddow. I would like to see a feature story about his show.

Posted by Diego Kirzen on 12.22.10 at 12:32

I think the best time I ever had talking about myself was on Mo’s show. She has the knack of putting people at ease and drawing out their humor. She listens between the lines. After the interview I felt like I could just go kick watermelons a half mile and speak in tongues.

Posted by gary hallgren on 12.22.10 at 13:24

Mo’s show was always fun and insightful. I loved hearing how she conversed with her guests and became genuinly excited for whatver adventure they faced in life. I always looked forward to tuning in at 8am with a cup of coffee. Listening in always made me feel like I was back in the valley for a little while. I’m glad to know your podcasts will continue Mo!

Posted by Alan White on 12.22.10 at 13:47

I don’t live in the valley. In fact living in Montreal I haven’t a hope of picking up the signal but for a while somewhere back then Mo would send me copies of her show and I found them a pure delight. I know nothing about the valley, have never been there, only know Mo and yet listening to her shows made me feel transported into a local cafe in your community and getting to know various personalties through the filter of Mo’s clever wit and indefatigable intelligence. I suspect her laugh alone is equal to four coffees. Her brilliance as an interviewer is to remain true to her own voice. I suspect this is the main reason her guests sounded perfectly at ease. I think it was Emerson who said that character was what we see in someone when they don’t know we’re watching. Over the airwaves, Mo’s character is remarkable and true. Thank you Mo for giving all that you do.

Posted by dwight Smith on 12.22.10 at 16:51

Will someone please pull The Enviro Show from off the spike? Ouch! That hurts!

Posted by d.o. on 12.22.10 at 19:16

okay, i am adding comments about the enviro show here, and on my blog for which i will interview you about it d.o., cuz you are an awesome pal and your show rocks! (edited as if I wrote it about you, though you wrote it for the article):

Here’s the deal with The Enviro Show. Glen, d.o. & Jean Grossholtz have been active enviros forever. Jean has a long history of environmental activism, part of which she was recently honored for by the National Priorities Project. D.o. was a founding member of Mass Earth First! during it’s second incarnation in the ’90s and Glen got involved during the Mt. Wachusetts old-growth debacle. It was only…err…natural? that they’d end up doing an environmental show on VFR when it came on the air in 2005. They must’ve been doing something right ‘cuz within a few years The Advocate awarded them both a Halo and Horns! (actually the Horns was a typo in their on-line version but they took it as a dirt worshiping, tree-hugger’s trouble-making badge on honor). The show, and of course VFR, have given the enviro show a platform to air seemingly radical, Earthcentric, outlooks and information to listeners in the Valley; something they do not get from any other media source in western Massachusetts. Local and regional environmental news is almost always based in anthropocentric terms and liberal, or worse moderate, in tone. There’s is a reason they’ve chosen REM’s “The End of the World as We Know it” as our opening theme song: humanity is pushing life on planet Earth over the cliff. Their job: save the world! ;)

–and, if it weren’t for people like d.o., Glen Ayers, and Jean Grossholtz trying to save the world and get us all to help, it would not have a chance.

Posted by Mo Gareau on 12.22.10 at 19:32

VFR is so important. I had the good fortune to be a guest on Mo’s show twice. I had such a postive experience both times. As an artist, when I’m involved in a project it can be challenging to articulate what my work is about as it is developing. During both interviews I was still processing specific aspects of my projects and Mo prompted me and provided me the opportunity to put to words what my work was about- I found I had so much more to say then I knew, and it became an important part of my process. Bravo for getting people talking with such vigor during such an earlly morning show as well!

Posted by Maggie on 12.22.10 at 22:38

VFR is gift to the world because it maintains a sense of PLACE; it’s a beautiful oasis of diversity co-existing in harmony and shows the world to embrace our differences — and to celebrate them. Most importantly, VFR reminds us that WE ALL BELONG. Viva VFR!

Posted by Brit Hammer on 12.23.10 at 5:10

Mark, that was a great article that highlights one of the best community radio stations in the Pioneer Valley.

I was particularly interested to hear your amusing account about being a guest on the Mo Show that struck a cord with me. I was a guest on her show when I was promoting my new book, Art from Intuition and, in a manner of speaking, I showed up late as well.

I’m a longtime friend and admirer of the lovable Ms Mo, and I know firsthand the wit and humor that made her show appealing to so many listeners. Of course, Mo’s painterly gesture in snug-fitting jeans, grace the front of my book as well, and I thought this is a natural way for us to “Talk Radio” together, but it didn’t quite come together as I hoped.

Knowing my reputation for non-punctuality, Mo was at my door bright and early offering a firm, “Get in, we’ve got to go!” as a counter to my offering – “I made us some coffee” greeting. And though it was sleeting out and very slippery, a determined Mo put her pedal-to-the-metal, frantically driving around the cautious wimps heeding the speed limit that day.

Upon arriving, I kind of remember some confusion about the key to the studio missing and problems with an amplifier or tapes not working that got me pretty nervous. Though Mo was a bit agitated, she calmly got it all together minutes before we went on the air, and all of a sudden we were live!

“Hi, this is the Mo Show with my guest, Dean Nimmer!” And like a deer in the headlights, I exclaimed something like, “Hi to you too, too!” and we were off to a – Did I just say that? – radio broadcast. Mo tried to get me at ease with some small talk about the weather and hellos to friends that might be listening but I completely froze up when we got into discussing my art and book. It wasn’t Mo’s fault, but I just couldn’t be spontaneous or funny talking about this book that took me 5-years to write and I probably talked more about how much I liked the book’s cover than I did about what’s between the pages. It took a bunch of Mo’s prodding me during a Van Morrison record break to get the message – “C’mon, lighten up!”- that may have salvaged the last half of the interview – i.e. I was a half hour late in arriving too.

Given that awkward debut, I’m probably not headed to replace Larry King, but I now fully appreciate the fact that Mo (Ringey) Gareau is a terrific radio host, and her Benign Girl blog showcases her exceptional talents as a writer to boot.

So, Go Mo, GO!

Dean Nimmer

Posted by Dean Nimmer on 12.23.10 at 15:12

Brit,

Beacuse you did not mention that you appeared on my show from Rotterdam via skype, to discuss your book, “MOSAIC: FINDING YOUR OWN VOICE”,I will give you a plug and a link —- > Brit is a fabulous artist and author who has written many books about the art of Mosaics, as well as feature articles for such magazines as New England Home Magazine. The book she discussed on my show can be found at http://www.brithammer.com/mosaic/

And thanks Dean, especially for not mentioning that the jeans on your book cover — at http://www.artfromintuition.com were held together by duct tape. And you were NOT a bad guest. I thought your deer-in-headlights persona was entertainingly comedic.

:-D

Posted by Mo Gareau on 12.23.10 at 16:00

Although I’ve been in the Valley 10 years now, I must sheepishly admit that I’ve never tuned in to Valley Free Radio. I’m just not a radiohead. But I’m not a podcast-listening I-Podder, either. I’m one of those increasingly rare specimens who gets most all of my info visually: reading. That said, after reading your article in this week’s Advocate, Mark, I’m actually going to make a point to tune in. Communication which is not beholden to commerce counts way high in my book!

And I must put in my two cents about the Mo Show — it is indeed a loss to know that Mo has been forced to fold her show, even tho’ I’ve never heard it. I first learned about the phenomenon that is Mo thru’ the weekly arts listings e-newsletter that she started (now passed on to other capable hands and renamed The Valley Arts Newsletter). Her passion for and dedication to promoting arts and culture in the Valley, over many years, with great organizational talent, wordsmithing extraordinaire, and an ability to link ideas and people have been a great gift beyond measure. i’ve been thankful that she has maintained her blog, which I relish, even while needing to let other things go.

I look forward to tuning in to VFR and getting to know other local luminaries who undoubtedly have wonderful gifts of their own that they are able to share thanks to the VFR platform. Thanks all, for your passion, creativity and voices! You’re part of what makes the Valley great!

Posted by Sarah Bliss on 12.23.10 at 20:36

Mo rocks and she does make each person she touches feel special. She approaches her guests with admiration, and sincere curiosity about their accomplishments and opinions. In fact, I’ll bet her interviewees leave feeling eager and able to leap higher and higher as a result of Mo’s enthusiasm.

Her quirky wit is what I most admire. She looks at things as if she were standing on her head, so they come into focus in a new and unique way. Witty, iconoclastic, and really tuned in. The only thing I enjoy more than hearing her show is reading her blog. And if I don’t respond, it’s because I can’t do it as well as she does. Mo, I don’t have the time to blog, twitter, chirp, or do the networking that keeps you in the loop of so many talented and loopy people. But, I hope you’ll keep those of us who are bogged down very blogged up. Your take on it all is a sublime treat, like chocolate with grappa inside.

Posted by anne burton on 12.26.10 at 20:55

I had the opportunity to be part of Mo’s show twice, and enjoyed both despite being afraid of a microphone! Mo has the ability to make you confortable, is witty and sharp, asks the right questions even though she may get the wrong answers! She is fun to work with and from the other side, entertaining and informative to read or listen to. More Mo!

Posted by Jean-Pierre Pasche on 12.27.10 at 11:39

Thanks all of you for your comments. After a very long hiatus due to my italic spine, I fully intend to start blogging again soon! :-D

And the reason my show was so fun is because I have crazy luck and meet the most amazing people and have a knack for convincing said most amazing people to come on air and trust me that it will be fun and that, “no one is listening anyway…”. In fact, to make it less terrifying for me and my guests, I never turned on the lights in the broadcast studio bc somehow, sitting there in the dim light from the basement transom, it seemed more like play and less like being live. :-)

y’all are so damn lovable! I am a very lucky person indeed!

xxxoooo all!

Posted by Mo Gareau on 12.27.10 at 14:37

If your president ever finds the way to your excellent article, he will certainly sign, to make such a creative radio experience spread all over the country! Thank’s for telling us, foreigners, how real people in the USA can be free and live their own way, far from the stereotypes so commonly shown by the news and the (de)press. Anyhow, please congratulate Mo & Co for their work -even if I can’t listen to their radio (Switzerland is really almost another world).

Posted by Claudia Mendoza on 12.29.10 at 20:14

Wow, I only just got to reading the article in the advocate and these fabulous posts. Mo is truly amazing, it was a gas being a guest on her show, I hope she’ll invite me again and we’ll rattle more than just paper. Mark’s article took me back, i often wish I had a transistor like I did at 12 years old, and would listen continuously, especially under my pillow. I love the randomness of listening to live radio and spend my 45 min daily commute wandering across the dials. Mark Roessler’s description of Mo’s interviewing style reminded me of Diane Arbus’ photographing style: relax your subject, reach in for the real stuff and make it shine. What Diane did visually, Mo does with words, but with gleeful fun and fast-thinking intelligence. Mo is a wizard, and I hope she keeps writing, I’ll be tuning in.

Happy New Year-to good things

Posted by sheryl on 12.31.10 at 17:53

2 Responses to “VFR in the Valley Advocate, as “fixed-up” by me”

  1. I am a firm beliver in independent, non-commercial
    community radio. Valley free Radio’s eclectic programming
    is a oasis from the vast wasteland that is commercial
    radio in this country.

    The “Mo” show,is the most unique of the programming
    schedule in my opinion. The 8:00AM slot is perfect, as we
    here at Smith tune in faithfully. Mo is known for her range of radio guests, which include artists,writers, musicians,
    and I once heard her interview with CBS’s Brandon
    Butcher. It was entertaining and a learning experience.
    She is able to call upon the most interesting guests.
    She has a warming easy-going personality, she is engaging,spontaneous, well spoken, and at times quirky.
    I like quirky ,I like Mo!

  2. Much thankfulness to Mo for extracting us from the VA correspondent/editor’s spike. It was getting mighty uncomfortable, but not nearly as uncomfortable as listening to news from the nations capitol for the past….what? 40 years??

    “You go, Mo!” has been our motto on The Enviro Show since the get-go. There will always be a mic open for her (not to mention hearts). It looks like it’s just started snowing here on the Benign Grrrrll blog, soooo we best be on our way before we’re snowbound and unable to prepare for…..(warning: shameless self-promotion ahead) The Back-to-the-Future Enviro Show! Tuesday, January 4, 6:30pm….where? 103.3fm! (or webstreaming at http://www.valleyfreeradio.org….of course.

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