Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Good Morning, Kansas City

All those years of waking up in hotels at 4:00 AM, preparing Johnny and Kamal for their early morning radio appearances - I'm shaking my head as I write this. And I'm smiling, too. I enjoyed that work. It was exciting to blow into a city and get the two of them on the radio to promote The Jerky Boys - their voices heard by hundreds of thousands of people at any given moment. We must have visited over 300 radio stations over the years, probably a lot more come to think of it. And that's not including the "phoner" type interviews where they'd sit in the comfort of their NY homes and simply talk on the phone for 15 minutes at a time; a whirlwind tour of the U.S. without moving five feet from the bed.

Yes, it was fun. But it was sometimes hard to watch from the sidelines. Something about the experience made me itch to get involved. But, I thought better of it. I was a stickler for playing the artist manager role just right; it wasn't my place to be front and center. The spotlight was for Johnny and Kamal, not for me. Some managers and agents like to call attention to themselves, but that wasn't my approach.

This trip has been sort of a coming out party for me. True, it's not as though I'm on Stern, Mancow, Limbaugh or O'Reilly. Still, even at a small level it feels good to be able to get into a radio station and not talk about The Jerky Boys. Now, it's about Eldercation. It's about the people I'm meeting on the road. It's about promoting a message I feel is very important.

"Good Morning, Kansas City!!" - This week, I was privileged to be a guest on "The Walt Bodine Show" here in Kansas City. As people from this city know, Walt's been an air-wave fixture here for over 50 years - and counting. He's a remarkable man who, at 87, is still passionate about his work. As some of you may have already seen, I had a chance to visit with Walt in his home a few weeks back to talk about Eldercation. He admired what I was doing and suggested a guest spot on his show. His producer, Hayley called me last week to set it up - and that was that.

It turned out the co-host, Kelly Weiss, had to be away for the day, but the pinch-hitter was Laura Ziegler, one of KCUR's journalists and reporters. Laura did a great job for someone who found out just a half hour before the show that she was going to go on the air. I was lucky to share the hour with a woman named JoEllen Wurth from The Shepherd's Center here in KC. Of course, as it has been during this entire trip, it was no accident that she was my show partner for the day. Two months ago while in Little Rock, I interviewed Emily Cudderth who was very active in that city's Shepherd's Center organization, now known at LifeQuest. These organizations are quite special in the way they energetically promote lifelong learning via a whole host of courses and programs. It was good to hear JoEllen talk about the various offerings and services and I hope to meet with her soon to find out how I can become more involved with their work.

It was such a treat to be able to spend an entire hour on the show and to then have people call in to comment and share their personal experiences with special elders in their lives. The best surprise was a call from NYC and as soon as I heard the caller's name announced as "Beth," a huge smiled formed on my face. Beth is an old college friend from Boston University and she was on my email list of folks I wanted to tell about the upcoming show. It's still incredible to me that with streaming audio, a radio show in Kansas City can be heard anywhere in the world, pretty much at any time. In addition, posted archived links and files allow users to pick and choose when and where to check older radio shows. Beth told the audience a story about something she experienced as a grad student in Boston in the early 1980's. She and her husband, Ari, newly married, lived with two elder sisters while going through school. I hadn't thought about it for years but Beth's story reminded me of how fond she and Ari were of those two women. Beth asked a good question: How can younger people have similar experiences with older people? Of course, that goes directly to what my vision for Eldercation is. My dream is to be able to turn many others on to a way they can take the time to see and hear older people express themselves. It actually comes down to something so very simple: One has to make the choice to slow down a bit and make the time to seek out these people. There's no magic to it. Of course, if you have a grandparent or great grandparent around, you have living blessings right in front of your nose. But, even if you don't have an older friend or family member nearby, volunteer opportunities are usually just a quick phone call away and, trust me, if you make a move to spend some time with a senior citizen, you will be richly rewarded. I know it sounds like a cliche', but whatever you put into the experience, you will get back fivefold. Well ... I haven't exactly measured it, but the reward it pretty terrific.

By the way, if any of you are interested in hearing this week's show, I'm pasting a Walt Bodine link here and you can click on it to listen any time the spirit moves you: I'm figuring out a way to have a copy of the show directly posted to the Eldercation site as well, so stay tuned for that. In time, I'll be able to post excerpts from some of the interviews I've done, too.

Ahh, the virtues of modern technology.

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