This morning, myself and several members of Altered Fluid, my Manhattan based writers group, had the pleasure of being on Jim Freund’s “Hour of the Wolf.” We talked about writers groups and the critiquing process, and then got down to the nitty-gritty of actually critiquing a real-live story, read on the air, by the talented Kris Dikeman. It began like this:
It was an interesting experience waking up at 2am and meandering towards the subway when most of the residents of Hoboken were waddling home drunk to bed. My first vista: a man urinating on a tree, schlong dangling and all. At least it was raining. I passed stumbling fools and bumbling drools and bought a nice, large coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts (thank God for 24/7). Devin and I met at the PATH and, once in Manhattan, hailed a cab towards Wall Street. A few minutes later we found Kris hiding from the rain under the WBAI building’s eaves. This was about 3:45 am. We were super early. We thought we were so early that the doorman had yet to arrive (he had been hiding somewhere out of sight), and it turned out there was an eensy-teensy, little white doorbell on the side of the entrance we could have used to page him.
We were eventually let in and we ascended pristine elevators to the 10th floor. There we entered the WBAI studios where Jim and the other Altered Fluid members soon joined us. Jim gave us a brief but detailed history of WBAI (aka Pacifica Radio), which, I was very interested to learn, has been a major innovator in broadcast history. WBAI was the first publicly funded (via fund drive) station, and they were also the first to be sued for obscenity on the air, which led to the well-known FCC rules. I wish I had perfect recall and could give you the rich history of the station, but the early hour and the strange effects caffeine has on a body that believes it should be in REM sleep have further deleterious effects on memory. But if you ever run into Jim Freund he’ll be glad to tell you the station’s history.
There was also this blinking red button on an answering machine which said (much to Kris’s enjoyment), “No! Do not press this button!” She wanted to press it.
Soon after we shuffled into the studio and — lo! — we were on the air almost instantly. There was a brief moment of anxiety (for me) that quickly passed. Once we began talking, it became just another night (or, I should say, morning) at the Altered Fluid writers group. We talked about how our group was founded, how each of us had joined, and a little about the critiquing process. Kris Dikeman then read from her recently written “Grandma’s Cat and the Battle of Trafalgar,” which I should say was rather wonderful. Afterwards, we critiqued her story in the “Clarion” method. (You can listen to the show for an explanation of that.) I was the last to crit her story and “dittoed” a lot of the former comments, but I found to my surprise I still had a lot of unique things to say and didn’t need to read from my crib notes hardly at all. That’s the great thing about our group: we all have different sensibilities and different points of view, so our crits cover a spectrum of thought and so often serve to improve an already great story. Kris at one point gave a shout-out to “Franklin,” her cabbie who took her to the station and promised to listen to the show. Yo, Frankie!
This morning went so fast that now, after having napped for an hour or two this afternoon, it all feels like a dream. But I am reminded of what Jim said, “For those of you listening to this show in the future, think kindly of your past.”
Some additional photos I took can be found here.