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  • thesoundofyoungamerica
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2005
      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,"
      Thorn says.

      Currently he's the only DJ at KZSC—and one of just a few radio
      programmers nationally—to 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 themes—i.e.,
      it's a pop-culture show rather than a local politics show—Thorn
      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.
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