Now Cough

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


At Open Source...

I'm sitting here in the control room at WGBH where a new public radio program, Open Source, hosted by the incredibly talented Chris Lydon, is being produced.

Seven people crammed into a modern control room, dominated by a large, demanding clock. On the TV monitor above the mixing board you can see Chris in a t-shirt with two guests at a table. The rhythm of the staff members contrasts with the action in the studio--imagine two teams of people who appear to be doing completely unrelated things, but they are actually both working together in a digital harmony.

The slight, tiny Katherine is screening phone calls, crisply saying "Open Source, what's your name and where are you from?..." She takes very fast and sloppy notes, urging gently for the caller to focus a bit on one thing and to please turn down their radio and "hold please..."

She turns to the director "Peter on 2..."

An intern, linked to all of the activity only by a headset is typing obsessively in a laptop--her job is to keep track of every caller, summarize the comments and the list of Summer books recommended by callers and guests...The topic for this evening.

Chelsea is keeping track of the posts on the Open Source bloc. And Brendan is switching from screen to screen on his laptop, standing at the ready with a headset equipped with a mic. Chris says " ...And now our blogmeister Brendan Greeley, what's the chatter on the blog..." And Brendan reads part of one post about the novelist Thomas Mann and a bit of poetry.

The web and radio come together. I can see the red sweep second hand on the big clock arcing toward the top of the hour--only minutes to go.

Laughter about some of the comments, nodding about David Sedaris..In the background on the cue speaker the engineer is previewing music beds for the director. Jazz? A trumpet riff?

Chris is deftly now moving from the conversations with two authors in the studio to Dennis Johnson, a writer and blogger in Hoboken. He artfully re-introduces guests and callers like an uber-salon host. Never breaking a sweat.

Chris asks--where are the international authors?

This is a very exciting hour...Smart, demanding in its range and subjects...It is expected you read and went to college and can't stop learning. Hungry for information and connections. As distant from the Limbaugh's as Earth is from Alpha Centauri.