Friday, October 14, 2005

Morven's Radio Adventure, Part 1 of 2

Ever wonder what it's like to do a radio broadcast? A number of my friends were fortunate enough to attend colleges that had student radio stations, but, alas, I wasn't, so I've always wondered. When a good friend of mine, Xanna Vinson, told me that she'd be doing a radio interview on WNSH 1570 AM in Beverly, Massachusetts, I was more than happy to offer her a place to stay, and a ride to the station.

The interview was scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, which would have been an incredibly decent hour to have to do an interview had we not been at a wedding the night before. It had been an afternoon wedding, though, so by 11:15 p.m. we were not only back at my house, but comfortably collapsed on the couch, watching the evening news.

We probably should have quit while we were ahead and not waited for the weather forecast. They were predicting torrential rains and localized flooding. Since neither of us was familiar with the geography of Beverly, we didn't know if it was prone to flooding. After a few minutes' discussion, we decided to email Hawthorne, the host of Spiral Dance Radio, to ask if we could arrange a telephone interview instead.

Saturday morning found us up and awake and checking email rather early, but there was no reply. We left Hawthorne a phone message with my cell phone number and decided to try the trip anyway. I figured that if the roads were bad, we could always turn around and head home, or, if the roads were REALLY bad and we were stuck seeking shelter somewhere en route, Xanna could possibly even do the phone interview from my cell phone.

But the weather gods were with us and the rain was light. We arrived at the station with a few minutes to spare, having wasted a few of those precious minutes walking in the wrong direction from the parking lot before finding the right building. Though it's a commercial radio station, it's located on the campus of Endicott College, which seems to be one of those campuses that grew in an organic manner, with roads and branches off roads. Hawthorne's directions to the parking lot were excellent, but I think it's just the nature of the campus that makes it hard to describe which end of the building is the front and so on.

Still, we found it, and crept in quietly while Hawthorne announced a selection of music. Quietly we put our stuff and umbrellas down. (Xanna had brought a copy of her book marked with a selection to read on air and I had brought a camera and a notebook.)

Hawthorne quickly set her up with a microphone and went over the plan. Xanna had been one of those lucky folks who had a radio experience in college and seemed comfortable and relaxed as they adjusted the microphone on an extendable metal arm.

I remembered that we had left our water bottles in the car and thought it would be a good idea to have some on hand. Hawthorne told me where I could find a water fountain and vending machines and I ran off in search of water. By the time I returned, they had already started the interview. I had paused before entering so that I could open the bottle of water outside the door and not in the room where the pop would either show up on the air or, at the very least, distract Xanna. I figured the microphones were probably unidirectional, but I had to idea how sensitive they were or what their pick-up pattern was.

Gently opening the door, I slipped in and tried to put the bottle down on the desk quietly and then slink back to my seat. Xanna and Hawthorne didn't seem to miss a beat, but I still found myself holding my breath, hoping that I wasn't breathing too loudly. Listening to Xanna talk, I finally got absorbed in the subject and was able to relax.

They were both naturals, so natural in fact, that I sometimes found myself wanting to just jump into the conversation, as if we were sitting in a living room, just having a quiet chat! I managed to keep my mouth shut without duct tape, though, and was able to listen quietly to Xanna describe the concept of a sentient earth and how that figured into her novel The Song of an Emerald Dove.

Hawthorne is a very good interviewer. He asked really intelligent questions, having read the book himself. He also fully listened to her answers before going on to his next question. He threw in one unexpected question about crop circles which resulted in a second of dead air before she warmly chided him about throwing her a curve ball, but she answered well and he responded with some interesting theories of his own.

Too soon it was over and we found ourselves heading back south on Rte 128, a road that used to leave me white-knuckled and sweating, but which now paled against the novel experience of the radio broadcast.

For more information on Spiral Dance Radio, visit (

For more information on Xanna Vinson and her new novel, visit (

-- Morven

What I'm Reading Now...

  • The Practical Writer Edited by Therese Eiben and Mary Gannon
  • Page After Page by Heather Sellers
  • How to Write Killer Fiction by Carolyn Wheat
  • The Complete Idiot's Guide to Grammar and Style by Laurie E. Rozakis

What I've Finished Reading Recently...

  • The Song of an Emerald Dove by Xanna Vinson
  • Haunted Newport by Eleyne Austen Sharp

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