More podcasting in print...
- I mentioned the press release I wrote and distributed a month or two
ago about the podcast of my radio show, The Sound of Young America.
Well... the first fruit came of it this week, as this article appeared
in the Santa Cruz Good Times, our town's venerable newsweekly. It's
full of errors (not least of which consistent misspelling of my name),
but nonetheless... good pub.
Upping the Signal
College radio host gives away celebrity-stocked comedy show in MP3 format
by Tony Burchyns
Slouched in one of KZSC's small editing booths, drive time DJ Jessie
Thorn exudes all the confidence of a radio god. With two hours to go
before airtime, this mysterious black-haired talk show host is already
"on," ripping Howard Stern for being Howard Stern, recounting numerous
interviews with celebrities such as comedian David Cross ("a jerk with
talent") and rapper Chuck D ("probably my most famous guest") and
playfully carping on National Public Radio for catering too much to
"Volvo-driving, latte-sipping 45-year-olds." He's also touting his
latest audio-media endeavor, Internet podcasting, as the future of
public radio, and boon for free speech in general.
"Since I started doing the show, I've been looking for ways to expand
the audience beyond the people who can listen to our radio signal,"
Currently he's the only DJ at KZSCand one of just a few radio
programmers nationallyto offer his show via podcasting, an emergent
technology that allows Web surfers to download broadcasts of his show
for free in an MP3 format.
"My guess is that within five years, KZSC's programming will be
distributed in this way, at least in a significant part," Thorn
(a.k.a. "America's Radio Sweetheart") says with a maverick grin.
It's clear that Thorn's a man of strong convictions. But he's also
damn funny, and, at 23, a true whiz kid. Since the inception of his
show "The Sound of Young America" (Thursdays 5 to 6 p.m. on 88.1 F.M.)
five years ago, he has become one of KZSC's most talented, if not
funniest, on-air personalities. It's sort of like, what if Conan
O'Brien had a radio show when he was a college student? Well, it
probably would have been something like "The Sound of Young America,"
which revolves around scripted on-air comedy and sharp interviews with
celebrity guests duped into thinking KZSC is something more than
UCSC's freewheeling "college" station.
"When we figured out that because I sound really good on the phone we
could get famous people we really admired to talk to us on the radio,
it was over," Thorn, a 2003 UCSC graduate, says, using "we" to include
his former radio wingman and UCSC buddy Jordan Morris, who's moved on
to doing TV production work in Los Angeles. "When we figured out that
we could get Matt Besser from the `Upright Citizen's Brigade' on our
`college' radio show by telling the publicist it was a `public' radio
show, and speaking in a really authoritative tone, acting like we knew
what we were doing, we were into it."
Since then it's been one celebrity coup after another. Guests have
included Art Spiegelman, the creator of "Maus," David Cross and Bob
Odenkirk from HBO's Mr. Show, Davy Rothbart, the creator of Found
magazine, Mr. Wizard, Patten Oswald from King of Queens, Samuel Powers
(a.k.a. "Screech") from Saved by the Bell, and rock star Andrew W.K.
"One of our all-time highlights was Andrew W.K. counseling my
9-year-old little brother on his rock 'n' roll band Total
Annihilation," Thorn says with a laugh. "I was flying after that
happened for like a month."
As for that notorious TV geek "Screech," well, "He was a monumental
asshole," Thorn says.
Because "The Sound of Young America" incorporates general themesi.e.,
it's a pop-culture show rather than a local politics showThorn
considers his radio juggernaut a good candidate for syndication. He
hopes podcasting can help him reach that goal.
"One of the cool things about podcasting is that it completely
democratizes who has a voice, and then it's a near-total meritocracy,"
he says. "If somebody makes a great show about model trains that could
never make it onto broadcast shoot, there's a million people in the
United States that love model trains, and if you make a great model
train show, then those million people can come to that podcast."
Just as fans of "The Sound of Young America" are coming to
www.splangy.com, Thorn's Web site, for their weekly fixes, some even
subscribe to the show by linking to Thorn's R.S.S. feed, which results
in Thorn's MP3's being sent to computers automatically. Like Tivo, the
automatic retrieval feature is a key perk of podcasting.
"One of the values of this podcast that I see for us is, one day, if
there are 100,000, or 50,000 people, subscribing to [it], then when I
approach a program director and say, `Listen, we've got this really
cool program, it's called `The Sound of Young America,' it's talk and
it's funny, it's comedians talking about serious stuff ' then I have
something to back [it] up," Thorn says.