WHAT THE HECK IS IN MY BACKYARD? In My Backyard is my own little corner of the radio and the internet. My goal with these pieces is, basically, to let people know what’s happening in their own community, often hiding in plain sight. While I’m generally talking about my own community of Urbana-Champaign, IL, you can bet that someone in your community is saving seeds, or raising chickens, or making some crazy food you’ve never heard of, or harvesting weeds for medicine, or whatever. I’m interested in these things and am thrilled that other people find them interesting, too. To be able to talk about it on the radio? AWESOME.
HOW DID YOU START? So, one day in early 2010, I was at a meeting at the offices of our local public radio/TV affiliate, Illinois Public Media. When the meeting adjourned, the Director of Agricultural Programming, Dave Dickey, asked if I could meet with him up in his office, near the studio.
Sure, I said, unable to fathom why he would want to talk with me up there, unless a) I was in trouble for something or b) he was hoping for a stealth interview about the Urbana farmers market, which I manage.
It turned out that he and some other station people were hoping I would be willing to be a volunteer correspondent, contributing five minute segments about food – especially about the intersection of food and people and neighborhoods and projects – to be aired during the station’s agricultural programming on its AM/NPR station on Fridays, broadcast all over the state of Illinois. The pieces would always be available to the entire world on the web. I could contribute once a week, or every two weeks, or whatever schedule I worked best for me. Oh, I’d done radio before? Perfect. Dave gave me some aging-but-very-serviceable equipment and sent me on my way. Mouth open, mouth closed. Seriously? Me? ME?
WHEN DID YOU START? My first piece aired Friday, June 4, 2010, and I’ve been at it ever since.
DO YOU GET TO HANG OUT IN THE STUDIO A LOT? Nope. I write the pieces, record the sound for the pieces, and then record my part all at home. I send the bits over to Dave at the studio via email and he puts it all together into something coherent. Thanks, Dave. I’d like to take some of the burden off him and learn how to produce my own pieces, which might be something I do in 2012.
WHAT KIND OF STUFF TO YOU TALK ABOUT? For example, in 2010, I talked about apple orchards, neighbors growing hops for beer, food preservation parties, locally-made artisanal chocolate, garden cleanup, local food in local restaurants, and much more. In 2011, I talked about seed swapping, syrup-boiling, squash, and the local food economy. 2012’s topics might include bison farming in Illinois, dairy farming in Illinois, cider pressing, mushrooms, interviews with book authors, and much, much more. I brainstormed 41 ideas in less than an hour last week. There’s more where that came from.
WHAT IF I WANT TO READ WHAT YOU’RE SAYING? I’ll be posting blog entries here, at this blog, under the “In My Backyard” category that will basically be transcripts of the pieces. There will also be links to the audio and some photos and stuff, because I’m thorough like that.
SO, THEN, WHAT’S ON DECK FOR 2012? In 2012, I hope to augment the photo/video component of the website, and maybe get segments on the air a little more often. I’d also like to work on expanding pieces to 10 minutes for web listening. You can see what’s currently available on the segment’s webpage. May as well do my bit to contribute to your media overload, you know?
HOW CAN I CONTACT YOU? Ideas, fan mail, criticism, photos of your garden or food project – they’re all welcome, as long as they’re friendly. You can reach me via email here.