We Can Build a Studio for $9,000
My name is David Dault. I am a professor of religion, and I love radio.
Since 2011 I have produced a weekly radio show and podcast called Things Not Seen: Conversations about Culture and Faith. It's kinda like "Fresh Air" on NPR, but with a faith focus.
Up to this point, we have rented studio time and used other folks' equipment and facilities to produce the show. But we have been given the opportunity to go on the air here in Chicago starting in January on WYLL 1160AM, and that means it's time to build a functioning studio space of our own.
This GoFundMe campaign is basic equipment for an audio production studio for radio and podcasting.
Because the broadcast is going on the air in January, it would be great to have these funds in place before the end of 2016 - or as early into 2017 as possible.
The plan is for four mic lines plus - up to four voices at once in the studio - plus ability to record at least one phone line. The audio will be at comparable quality to what we get recording at WBEZ or other local stations.
With this equipment, we can produce my show as a podcast and broadcast. But I also want to make make the studio available at a good affordable rate to local producers, like my pals Kat Banakis, Katie Klocksin, Colleen Pellissier, and others in this amazing Chicago radio community.
Over time, we also plan to develop and market some more podcasts that religiously-focused - in a more more "narrative" format than what we are doing on Things Not Seen.
But it starts with having the right equipment. After more than five years of doing this, I have a pretty good idea of how and what I need, and how to make it affordable. I own some of what I need already. Your donation gets us the rest of the way.
If we got the full $9,000, here is exactly how I will spend it:
1 Behrniger Xenyx UFX1604 mixer, $699
1 JK Audio Innkeeper PBX phone tap, $494
1 Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 audio interface, $499.99
1 iMac 3.3 GHz desktop computer, $2,299
1 Marantz PMD661 MkII field recorder, $599
2 Shure SM7B studio mics with stands, $386.10 per
1 ElectroVoice RE50-NDB field mic, $199
1 CloudLifter CL-1 signal booster, $149
3 Symetrix 528e voice signal processors, $889 per
1 subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, $50/month
Check me on the math, but by my reckoning that gets us to a total of $8,979.18. If we get to that, the studio is built.
If we get beyond that, then we can spend some funds on acoustic treatments and power conditioning for the space, to get the sound even more clean and clear.
I have put more than five years of my life into building this show, and every step of the way I have found listeners who love the work we are doing, and who have pitched in to help. Some have become funders, and some have ended up producing segments for the show.
I am so thankful for all our fans, old and new - and I want to involve you any way you are interested. If you can help fund this plan, thank you! If you want to pitch us an idea, or if you want help starting a podcast of your own, email me. You can contact me through this site, or through twitter @DaultRadio and @NotSeenRadio.
I look forward to producing excellent shows for many more years to come. With your help, that goal gets one step closer. Thank you always for listening.
So we have been on the air for a month on WYLL here in Chicago.
Some background: the station is a high-power AM broadcaster that reaches the whole of greater Chicago - about 12 million potential listeners. We are on Saturday evenings from 7-8pm.
The listener demographic of the station is interesting. The hard-core Evangelical broadcaster in the area is Moody Radio, and they dominate the market. WYLL, then, is in some ways a station in search of an audience.
Their heart is Evangelical, but the dominance of Moody pulls them to make alliances with other listener blocs.
So, for example, they have a tremendous alliance with the South Side and Western Suburbs in terms of African American congregations. I have been to their annual Pastor Brunches, and the room is filled with a diverse mix of ministers - certainly more than I have seen in the Southern Evangelical circles I used to visit with down in Georgia and Tennessee.
Now let me make clear, Things Not Seen Radio is not an Evangelical show. So what are we doing here?
Frankly, I believe in having conversations across disagreements. I want to reach audiences that are outside my usual bubbles. I want to learn and discover the different ways Christians (and people of other faiths) view the world.
In short, I want to take some risks to reach people who are different, and build trust and relationships with them.
I think, in some respects, that is also what motivated WYLL to take a look at the show and give it a try. Because of Moody's shadow, they also have to seek new ways to find audiences. They put the show in a slot when they were trying some more "edgy" programing.
That said, I think TNS is the "edgiest" of the lot.
Every show that airs goes through a review process. They have an internal vetting process at the station, but I also understand that some of the shows have been run by their network home office out in California.
Not every episode has made the cut. There are some conversations that - for now, at least - are too far beyond the pale. I expected that, and it is not a problem. I would say my working relationship with the station is very positive, and I want to work hard to get them a show that meets their needs.
But I have been fascinated by *which* shows raise the flags. Every few weeks I send along a batch of shows for them to vet, and I have not tried to put any prickly pears in the bunch. That said, some guests that I thought would be no problem have come back as no-go's.
I have also been surprised that some of the content that I thought would push buttons has been met with very positive approval.
So one great outcome is that I am learning just how different the senisbilities of the Evangelical are from my own, and that is really interesting.
We have also gotten at least one listener complaint. I take that as a good sign - because at least it means someone is listening. :)
Thank you for all the ways you encourage me on this amazing journey.
The way he tells it, in his book _On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft_, he would sit in his attic and write stories. Then he would send them off to magazines. And the magazines would send him rejection letters.
Each time he got a rejection letter, he would add it to the spike that was sticking out of the attic rafter.
You may not believe it now, but he says that he pretty much filled that spike. Sheet after sheet, until a thick pile of rejection had accumulated.
How did he keep going? Why did he keep going?
King found something that made him feel more alive and energized than anything else. Writing was the thing that pulled him past failure and rejection. It pulled him past a major injury. It even pulled him past drugs and alcoholism (though that took him a while).
I have had the honor of knowing a few chart-topping musicians, and a couple famous Hollywood actors. To the outside world, they may have been "discovered," or had "overnight success," but I happen to know that long before the spotlight hit, they were showing up and putting in the work.
For a long time, my friend Susanna Smith had a collection of a hardcover first edition of every Stephen King book. Maybe she still does. I remember being impressed with the collection, when I saw it.
But what impresses me even more is that - long before all those books started getting published and read - King was working on a collection of his own. Day by day, word by word, until he filled up that spike with folks telling him "you can't do this."
Until he could. Until he did.
Find your spike. Fill it.
It's hard to describe the game to those who have never dug into "text adventures." It was a computer game, but it wasn't a video game. There were no graphics. Only words.
You built the game in your mind. "Go North," you would type. The game would respond, "You see an open room with a bare stone altar. On the altar is a box." So you would type, "open box," and so on.
I spent weeks of my life playing that game, sitting in my room on my Commodore 64, with Peter Gabriel's "Plays Live" in heavy rotation on the turntable. In my otherwise dark tween years, this is a happy memory.
Zork taught me some basic lessons about life, and they still shape the way I think about things today. For example:
- I think about situations in real life like they are puzzles to be solved. That was the way Zork was set up. It was a nested series of questions that needed answers, and locks that needed picking.
- You start where you are, with what you have. There was no preamble in Zork. You were in a field. No explanation why. Your job was to start looking around and get moving. Kinda like life.
- It is wise to see the long-term value of things. Inevitably, you would come across an object that is no good to you in the present moment. But hold on - don't pass it by so quick. In another room, a day or a week from now, that might be just the thing you need to solve the puzzle - and nothing else in the universe will do. Zork taught me that objects, skills, situations - and people - often have a value that is not immediately apparent.
I have played a lot of video games in my time, but none have the place in my heart like Zork. I think I love it both for the lessons it taught me, and because it was a movie I made for myself in my skull.
That's the same reason I love radio. No pictures to distract you from the great visuals your imagination creates for you.
Around the same time I was playing Zork my buddy Theron was introducing me to golden age radio shows like I Love a Mystery and The Shadow of Fu Manchu.
Those stories are fully-formed productions, thanks to my imagination. The characters are as real and as developed as anything I ever saw in a movie theater. More so.
In 2017, I am setting out on a new adventure. I will be doing a lot more radio - both with my long-time show Things Not Seen, and with some new shows and new friends, like science reporter Emily Graslie.
From here, right now, it feels very much like those first moments of Zork, back in the day. I'm here, and the job is to get moving, and start exploring, and to find what I need along the way to unlock the doors.
As I start this new adventure, I'd love for you to come along. Join in as you can, and we'll figure out the next steps together, and we'll do our best not to get eaten by a Grue.
Your support will allow us to do more of these kinds of episodes - focused on real-time events and exploring the theological side of contemporary issues. Thank you!