Thursday, June 16, 2011

DJ Lisa in da house

It's like that, and that's the way it is... In case you've forgotten the song, here's Run-DMC (from Krush Groove) to remind you

The decision of the powers that be (in this case, the director of Ixmukané and the consultant working on the radio project) is that I should do the afternoon music show. Basically every day that I am willing.  I had started out a few weeks ago (interrupted by trips to the U.S. and then that pesky car theft) taking responsibility for  the morning show, called Saqarik, one day a week -- basically because at that time no one else seemed to want to do it. The idea behind that show was to start the day off with an explanation of the significance of the day on the Maya calendar and also something about the Maya cosmovision.  I was assured that there were good sources on the calendar and the cosmovision and I could use those as references -- and then the rest of the time was to be devoted to music. Although I did not relish getting up at 4:30, I was eager to try my hand at this. My other responsibility was to be one of the afternoon music shows, on Afro-Caribbean music. That is more clearly within my expertise. While I don't claim to be a complete expert ("Afro Caribbean" covers a broad scope) I know enough about a couple of countries and musical traditions, and I know how to do research. 

The schedule has gone through several iterations. So now, most recently, I have been assigned to do the afternoon show, which is supposed to combine music with a "tema" (theme, issue, problem), and not the morning show. I think they would have been happy for me to do the afternoon show, 3-6 p.m., four or five days a week but I thought (a) that was too much and (b) they shouldn't become that dependent upon me. It's too much because I don't just put on music at random. It's very easy, with the broadcasting software we have, to just "colocar" (paste up) a bunch of tracks, and since the station IDs and public service announcements are pre-programmed, you really could, if you wanted, do very little. But I feel as though the radio should be somewhat informative, so if I'm going to do a show on Afrocuban music, I want to think through the logic of what the show is about, to put the music in a social and historical context, and select music that will illustrate the themes. In other words, to research and script the show. 

So, to do this well, it takes me about 4-5 hour to plan and prepare a 3-hour show. I have to figure out what I want to do, see what music I have available, purchase or otherwise find what I don't have that would make the show work better, and then write up an outline so that I can plot out what I'm going to say, and do a rough estimate of how long it will all take so I make sure that I have three hours' worth of material. I want to have a little bit extra (in case I run out of things to say or there is some other situation that I have to deal with), but not so much so that I feel that I can't get through it all. 

So far I've only done three shows that were really prepared to my satisfaction. When the women from Peten came, I had wanted to make sure that we documented their visit (both video and photos) and a concurrent meeting of promotoras jurídicas that was also being held at the center. I also was not sure when we would be able to do an interview with the women so I hadn't fully prepared my show for Tuesday since I thought it might be pre-empted. It wasn't, and so I quickly assembled some early ska and reggae and interwove some commentary about Jamaican history, colonialism, Marcus Garvey and the roots of Rastafarianism.   Wednesday I ended up having to open up the station in the morning at 6, and then since the person in charge for the month had fallen ill and was hospitalized briefly, and no one else came to do shows on Wednesday, I had to run the station for the entire day, mostly playing music but doing a few impromptu interviews as well. However, by the time I'd finished interviewing the women from Petén, I was tired, and I also wanted to accompany them back to the offices of Ixmukané to hear the interchange between the visitors and the Ixmukané staff. So I got permission from the director to close down early. Whew! 

So now I'm trying to really plan out a week or two in advance, and integrating more conversations or interviews, either by Skype or with people locally, into the shows.

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