Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

December 2, 2015

Am I Sick?

Filed under: At home,Food,My Job — Janice @ 10:30 pm

No, I am not sick, but something’s up. I’m cranky. That’s never a good thing. And I just looked at a web site full of recipes and they all made me think, “Gag, that sounds awful.” Maybe I am sick. That certainly does not sound like me.

I did leave work to come home early today. I didn’t leave sick. I left sick and tired. But I didn’t stop working. I came home and worked the rest of the day. The office building has been doing something with their smoke and fire detection systems for way too long now. We’ve gone through it before and it started again, today. They have to prop open the doors of the stairs, the fire escape, and blow lots and lots of outside air through it to test something. I don’t quite understand the concept. What I do understand is that the stair door is just across a “hall” from my desk. Except it is a hall without walls and I am in an open cube. My 10 coworkers of my department are all grouped together in this cubbyhole area, but most have at least one cubicle wall blocking the wind from their faces. I do not. We put a thermometer on my desk today and it dropped to 64 degrees in a flash. That temperature can feel good when you are outside in it in the sunshine, but not inside when you are facing into a gale wind and trying to work. The last time this happened half of our staff in our department got sick from the cold or from the airborne allergies it forced into our faces. Today I picked up my work and came home and didn’t fight it.

But I went to the doctor today, not because I’m sick, but just for a check-up/follow-up. All is well, tests were fine, I’m a healthy girl. So I came home and took a nice nap to celebrate. I made some healthy soup for dinner, though I would have eaten chips and cheese for dinner if I had only had some. I cannot go to the grocery store when I’m in this cranky, poor-me mode. I do that and come home with way too much chocolate and crunchy salty things. I must wait until lettuce and salmon sound good to me.

Bottom line. I hate to write when I feel cranky and have nothing to write about. I hate to complain in a permanent blog where future employers (heck, current ones) can read it and judge me. But I swore I was going to write every day this month (let me hedge that — as much as I can), so here it is. Done.

September 3, 2014

Complainers

Filed under: My Job,Normal Life — Janice @ 10:09 pm

I am trying not to be a complainer. I know I do complain and I know sometimes I make snarky remarks that come across as complaining. Or maybe I say the truth, knowing you will understand that I’m complaining even if I don’t say the actual words (like “I need to go to the grocery store” when I want to say “Augh, I hate this, I don’t want to go to the grocery store.”)

One motivator I have to control my complaining is by listening to others complaining. I won’t name any names, but I know people who can complain about the nicest things. If we are told we can leave at 3 p.m. before the holiday, she might say, “Oh, great, NOW you tell me after I ran all my errands at lunch.” Or the weather is going to be ideal on Saturday, “Well, that sucks, I just wanted to stay inside and watch movies.” Those may sound extreme, but I have heard worse.

I don’t want to sound all Pollyanna, but I am still so darn grateful to have a job each and every day that I don’t want to sound unappreciative of it. I know I complain about some things and, no, lots of days, while it is the ideal job, it isn’t as good as NOT working, but I am still happy to get paid to do what I do and have the flexibility I have and the coworkers and a nice cubicle of my own and a parking garage spot. It’s the little things that are the big things!

December 15, 2013

My Organization and Ray Price

Filed under: Austin,Music,My Job,Radio stuff — Janice @ 11:09 pm

Ray Price is dead. Or Ray Price is not dead. This is one of the weirder cases I’ve seen of someone jumping the gun on a death. Apparently an “official” kind of source (like his son) said, Yes, he is dead, and all the good magazines and news outlets (like Rolling Stone) went with it and printed obituaries. Then someone else came along and said, no, he’s not dead.

Mark took some amazing pictures of Ray Price at a Willie Nelson Fourth of July Picnic in about 2008, I think. I wasn’t at it. I was driving home from celebrating in Denton listening to it on the radio, though, and it was interesting to hear it and then hear Mark’s version of the disorganized mess it really was.

But today it dawns on me that I interviewed Ray Price back in my radio heyday, too. He was part of Willie’s picnic when it was at Spicewood. I do not know the date on that one, but I’m guessing 2004? 2005? I have put the word out and hope to find out soon.

I hope finding the year will help me find my photos! I think we were a digital world by that time. I know I have many pictures of that day. It was a very muddy mess and I wore true hiking boots because the muck was so thick. I have pictures meeting the Keller Brothers (who later became friends and Mark’s bandmates). I have a picture of me with the South Austin Jug Band with Willie Pipkin, another bandmate of Mark’s. I have a picture of someone from the Grateful Dead being interviewed. And me interviewing Bill Mack, the legendary disc jockey, and a picture of us doing the “grip and grin.” And I know I have a picture of me interviewing Ray Price. No g-n-g of us, but me interviewing him. But I can’t find it.

I hate that my organization is ALWAYS like this. I never can seem to put my hands on THE picture that I want. I hope I can find it before he is really gone. A very nice man. I don’t think the interview was anything special. But I have seen him perform since then and he was still incredible. He was better than either Willie Nelson or Merle Haggard and he was older than both.

December 10, 2013

Bone Tired

Filed under: At home,My Job — Janice @ 9:54 pm

I hate to be so tired. If I worked all day in a physical job I could understand it, but I sit at a desk in every job I have and it wears me out! So my writing today will conclude with the complaint that I am too tired to write. I’m too tired to even finish my work for the day. That means I will have to be up extra early tomorrow to finish it, I hope, so I am going to go to bed now.

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December 6, 2013

Snow Days

Filed under: At home,Austin,Food,My Job,Normal Life — Janice @ 10:41 pm

I don’t know where you live, but I would expect that wherever you are, people are worrying about the cold arctic blast that is hitting us. The Dallas/Fort Worth area, my old home, is iced over and everyone is hunkered down. Here in Austin, we only had cold weather and even with that we didn’t go below 32 officially today.

I have been through ice storms in Dallas and they are really something to worry about. Having come from super-cold country (Amarillo), I thought I could laugh at these people that couldn’t drive in this stuff. Then I learned what ice was all about. It truly was something that was totally different in nature from the snows of the Panhandle. I think I had one glorious ice day when I lived in Dallas. After many years in radio where there is no such thing as a snow day or an ice day, I had a non-essential job and got to stay home ONE time because of ice. It was glorious.

But the best snow day ever (okay, maybe outside of as a kid because those were always wonderful) was when I lived in Amarillo with my roommates Beth and Diane and we had a snow day. Well, actually, they had the snow day because they had jobs that did such a thing. I still got up and somehow made it through the drifts and did my morning show, but turned right around after and came home so THEN my snow day began.

I suppose if three single 20-somethings all lived together and had a snow day today they would spend most of their time on their smart phones or laptops or tablets talking with friends in other places and comparing notes about the cold weather. How sad! We had just the three of us and we made fudge and probably other fattening things. We played Scrabble and probably some card games, too. Yes, we had a TV, but no movies on hand or anything particularly good to watch, so the TV stayed off and we talked and played and cooked and laughed. It was memorable. Mostly for the fudge, but for the girls, too.

Today I sort of took a snow day. I still worked, but I worked from home. Not quite the same thing because I didn’t make fudge and I had no friends with me. But I enjoyed a fire and 3 kitties and a Christmas tree and I actually got some work done, too. The weather didn’t turn out so bad that I couldn’t have made it in after all, but I appreciate a flexible boss and job that let’s me be at home like this. Next time ice is predicted, I’m gathering up the ingredients for fudge.

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December 5, 2013

Christmas Radio Memories

Filed under: My Job,Radio stuff — Janice @ 10:49 pm

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Thirty-five years ago tonight I was working in this tiny little radio studio in Amarillo. It all came whooshing back to me tonight when I was working in my current little radio station (in my home) and a song on the log for my show was “Crazy Love” by Poco. We were a progressive country radio station and Poco was perfect for our format. I absolutely loved that song and looked forward to playing it every night (in a different hour each night, of course; you don’t want to be predictable). There’s nothing “Christmasy” about that song, but I feel in a Christmas mood because I played it all through that December in 1978.

I wasn’t completely alone when I was at the radio station, but it is a pretty solitary job. This was the FM station when no one listened to FM radio and we had an AM station on the other side of the building. The guy that worked over there while I was on the air, Gary, had to play many more SHORT songs than I did and he also had to take the meter readings every single hour. He was very busy, so if I needed some interaction with another person face-to-face, I had to go over to his side of the building to visit for a minute. I could do that because we had a lot of long songs in our format… most anything by the Marshall Tucker Band, some from Rusty Weir, and, my favorite, the 13+ minute song from Steve Fromholz called Texas Trilogy. I loved the song to being with, but being 13+ minutes long was a big bonus when I was new in radio and needed a break. I wasn’t allowed to play it every night, but I played it as often as I could.

I went to work at this station at midnight. I drove 15 miles at 11:30 or so and went through possibly the most dangerous part of Amarillo to get to it six nights a week. Then off at 6 a.m. to drive home, sleep deprived, in time to sleep an hour or two and then go to class. I shared a tiny house with my roommate and fellow disc jockey, Karma. This was really my first experience at living away from home (I hardly count a semester in a dorm). I remember that December being VERY cold and that house being very thin. But we had a Christmas tree in the living room and I was totally immersed in my new world of radio.

I have memories that are images and smells and feelings more than anything…  The smell of all the cigarettes that were smoked in that tiny room, the warmth of the bright lights that shone down on the little board, the beige desk telephone (with a dial and the flashing buttons across the bottom). We actually picked the phone up and talked on the handset… I haven’t done that at a radio station in more than 30 years. On that all-night show there weren’t a lot of phone calls. Boy, I would lunge for the phone when there was one, looking forward to the diversion. At 5 o’clock I had to call my boss, the morning man, to wake him up. I wonder if any morning jocks still have the all-night guy call them? Oh, I just remembered, there are no all-night guys anymore.

I was very lucky to train when there was an overnight shift where very few people were listening, especially not the boss, and I was able to do really stupid stuff and make awful mistakes. I have been listening to some tapes from that era and I cringe when I hear how truly bad I was. But I was racking up those 10,000 hours of practice they say you must have to get good at something. I don’t know that I ever made it to 10,000, but I had enough practice to make a pretty good 35 year career out of it at least.

 

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February 10, 2013

The GRAMMYS are Tonight

Filed under: Music,My Job — Janice @ 10:37 am

Tonight I will watch the Grammy awards. I will probably watch just a LITTLE behind real time so that when a boring act is performing I can zip through without having to endure it. What will be the boring acts? I don’t know yet, but I usually can do without the rap artists and since Frank Ocean is one of the hot new artists he probably will perform and I can probably do without him. Who would I like to see perform on the Grammys? I don’t even know who is supposed to be on it, but I think I would like to see Fun. perform since I find myself singing their song Some Nights in my head a lot, and the new one Carry On, too. And I always look forward to the In Memoriam tribute. This year’s should include Dick Clark and Davy Jones and many others that have completely slipped my mind. Last year Whitney Houston died on the eve of the Grammys and it completely changed their program for the night. They have been lucky this year and haven’t had to rework the whole program to pay tribute to a superstar.

My good friend Jenni is AT the Grammys tonight. I will be looking for her, too. She is a record promoter to radio and the album she promoted that was a Tribute to Guy Clark is up for a Grammy and deserves it. I will be watching to see if it wins. I don’t know if she gets to accept if it wins, but I will be very happy for her if it does. And for Guy and for all my friends that were on that album (Jack Ingram, for one). I wonder if they all get Grammy statuettes if they win?

I wrote a blog for our company blog about the country nominees for this year, if you would like to read it. I realized I might want to put it here before the Grammys so you could know I made these predictions before the Grammys and not after. We know how good my Super Bowl predictions were (well, maybe we don’t… they sucked… I predicted no winner correctly until the Super Bowl itself, when I didn’t really care at all). My music predictions may not be any better. We will see tonight. The link to the company blog is here, but I’ll put the whole text here in case the company links change. The link is visually pretty, I will say, and has videos of the some of the artists I picked. It is worth reading there if you have the time.

By the way, my company has recently become Mood Media and that has been big news this week, too.

—–

Around the halls of our Austin office, I am the “country music expert.”  I know I’m not the only one that likes country music, but I am the one that comes from a long line of country music lovers (Dad was partial to Western swing and grew up dancing to Hoyle Nix and his West Texas Cowboys while Pappa was a truck driver so you know he liked Dave Dudley’s Six Days on the Road). Plus, I have played a lot of Willie Nelson and George Strait on the radio in my disc jockey days.

So with those impeachable credentials, I thought I would handicap the upcoming Grammy awards country categories for you. The 55thAnnual Grammy Awards will be presented and televised on CBS February 10th.

Just a few years back, there were seven categories of awards for country. With the recent cuts the Grammys made, country only has four categories now:  Best Album, Best Song, Best Duo or Group Performance, and Best Solo Performance. No more instrumental category or male/female awards.

Before we dive in let me give myself an out, in case my predictions for the Grammys are as bad as my predictions were for the Superbowl (Go Cowboys!). The Grammys have traditionally not been a reflection of what is played on country radio or what is even classified as country in the record stores. In a world where some of us still categorize a whole bunch of songs as “disco” when that term isn’t even used, and what I label as “disco” would be filed under about a dozen different labels to a lover of the dance genre, country is not easy to label either. Since the Grammy Awards are nominated and voted on by people in the music industry that are very aware of music, but sometimes aren’t as aware of what is popular in the REAL world, fans of country music have gotten angry at some choices. In 1989, Lyle Lovett and k.d. lang were the male and female “Vocalists of the Year” in the country category. Both great vocalists with terrific followings and, arguably, their music is country, but since they had not had hits on country radio, country music fans were aghast. More recently, the Dixie Chicks continued to win country music Grammys after their fall from grace in country radio and their sound had taken a decidedly more pop turn. The Eagles, a rock band from the start, won a country Grammy in 2007. I’m  keeping that quirkiness of the Grammys in mind as I make my picks:

BEST COUNTRY SONG

Nominated:
“Blown Away” (Carrie Underwood sang it)
“Cost Of Livin’” (Ronnie Dunn sang it and wrote half of it)
“Even If It Breaks Your Heart” (the Eli Young Band sang it)
“So You Don’t Have To Love Me Anymore” (Alan Jackson sang it)
“Springsteen” (Eric Church sang it and wrote some of it)

Ronnie Dunn and Alan Jackson are well-known names and have had a long string of hits, but these two songs were stiffs. The other songs were all Top 10 hits. Carrie Underwood is well established in Nashville now. The Eli Young Band and Eric Church are still gaining their footing on the scene. Personally, I think “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore” is the “best” song of the bunch, if I’m judging them on the basis of the writing, the meaning, and whether it is a country song. Since (I think) the Grammy judges don’t look at that, I say the Grammy goes to Springsteen by Eric Church. They’ve heard of Springsteen (the artist, not the song) and, therefore, it gets their vote.

BEST COUNTRY ALBUM

Nominated:
Uncaged by the Zac Brown Band
Hunter Hayes by Hunter Hayes
Living For A Song: A Tribute To Hank Cochran by Jamey Johnson
Four The Record by Miranda Lambert
The Time Jumpers by The Time Jumpers

My favorite, hands down, is The Time Jumpers. Full disclosure, I haven’t heard all of the others all of the way through. The Jamey Johnson album is very good and a great tribute to one of the great songwriters of country music (he wrote “I Fall to Pieces,” “He’s Got You” and “The Chair” among so many more). Sometimes those albums get the Grammy because of the subject matter. Not this year. This year the Zac Brown will get a well-deserved Grammy. They’ve only had one before (for their collaboration with Alan Jackson on “As She’s Walking Away”). They’ll get recognition this year to make up for lost time.

And I’ll throw this in here… Hunter Hayes is up for Best New Artist along with Fun., the Lumineers, Frank Ocean, and Alabama Shakes. He won’t win, but it is quite an honor for him to be in there. He does have quite a future. He became a YouTube sensation at four years old singing “Jambalaya.”

Now, at 21, he is touring with Carrie Underwood and really showing his talents. It is nice that the Grammys are noticing him.

BEST COUNTRY DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE

Nominated:
“Even If It Breaks Your Heart” by the Eli Young Band
“Pontoon” by Little Big Town
“Safe & Sound” by Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars
“On The Outskirts Of Town” by The Time Jumpers
“I Just Come Here For The Music” by Don Williams Featuring Alison Krauss

Taylor Swift won two Grammys last year (and four the year before that) but I think she’ll go home empty handed this time. This song with the Civil Wars was in The Hunger Games, but didn’t get any attention beyond that. Don Williams came out of his retirement to tour and record an album and that should have been huge news, but since Nashville is fickle and likes the shiny new artists, he won’t win either.  The Time Jumpers (have I mentioned I love the Time Jumpers?) includes multi-Grammy-winning artist Vince Gill, but his shine has gotten tarnished over the years, too, and he will likely be ignored. Between the other 2? I’m going to say the Eli Young Band will take this one home. I hope they do. Full disclosure:  I’ve known these guys since they were barely out of the University of North Texas. They played a great Texas Music Series I hosted years ago and even then I didn’t think they had the right sound for the Texas music we were promoting. They had the big-time Nashville sound and they have developed it and improved and are really a great band onstage and in the studio. I’m pulling for them. And if you don’t know, it’s Mike Eli and James Young (there is no “Eli Young”) along with Jon Jones and Chris Thompson. Nice guys who have worked hard to get where they are today.

BEST COUNTRY SOLO PERFORMANCE

Nominated:
“Home” by Dierks Bentley
“Springsteen” by Eric Church
“Cost Of Livin”‘ by Ronnie Dunn
“Wanted” by Hunter Hayes
“Over” by Blake Shelton
“Blown Away” by Carrie Underwood

Six artists made it into this category. I wonder if they decided they needed to include ONE female artist and opened it up bigger to get Carrie Underwood included? It doesn’t matter; she won’t take it home this year. I’ll cut to the chase and tell you that Blake Shelton gets the Grammy. He’s never won one before and since The Voice came along, he’s known to everyone that knows Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green. That will go far and now he’ll have a Grammy to balance out the one his wife Miranda Lambert got 2 years ago.

I will be curious to see how many of these awards get prime time coverage on the Grammy television broadcast. Maybe I should predict that, too. I say they will show the Best Solo Performance award because they will want to show Blake Shelton on TV (unless they don’t want to promote a competing network?) and there is a chance they will show the Best Album. Who knows? But I will be watching and we can dish about it afterward.

– Submitted by Janice Williams, Music Design

January 4, 2013

Musical Deaths in 2012

Filed under: Music,My Job,Radio stuff,Taphophilia — Janice @ 12:03 am

When I went through my diary for 2012 I made note of which celebrities made it into the diary. Sure, I made note of ALL of them in my Obit Club on Facebook and emailed about them with my friends. If I were still in radio I would have been spinning the songs from the people that were musical. But only a few were famous enough to be remembered ALL the way until I went to bed and thought about them that night. I  may have missed one, but the celebrities that were famous enough for my diary in 2012 were:  Whitney Houston, Davy Jones, Dick Clark, Kitty Wells, and Nora Ephron.  A disc jockey/TV personality, 3 musicians/singers, and a writer.

I saw a good video today from the New York Times that had the musical deaths of 2012 and short clips of their music. It’s here for you. Short commercial at the beginning. Etta James is the very first one. Mark worked with her a couple of times over the last few years. This week he was framing up some pictures he took of her and also a cool poster he took down from a telephone pole in Dallas from a concert. It looks like a poster from the 1950s, but it was a concert in the 1990s or so. When he worked with her at the Paramount Theater he had her autograph it for him. He is framing it up for display now. It’s a good one.

Mark’s been framing a lot of the pictures of artists he has worked with and had the opportunity to photograph. For Christmas he gave a photo of B.B. King to one nephew and a photo of Tony Bennett to the other. It’s nice to be able to tell them each good stories about how nice these legends are in person and what a joy it is to work with them, around them, for them. I suppose Mark has lots of pictures in his computer of artists that were jerks to him, but they never make it to print and certainly don’t get framed.

Post Script: When I think of musical deaths, I think of two more recent ones. I was in my current job as a contractor when Michael Jackson died. I was in a small office and my boss was working across the hall in her office. I had seen some new flashes about Michael Jackson being in the hospital, but certainly didn’t expect it to be The End. Suddenly, my boss shouts from her office, loud enough for us all, up and down the hall, to hear, “Holy Shit, Michael Jackson is dead.” There was still some speculation that it wasn’t true, but confirmation wasn’t long in coming on that one. The other memory was in the same job, but just this year when Whitney Houston died. She died on a weekend and I don’t remember how I heard, probably like everyone, from the computer (and my ever-ready Obit Club), and there were tributes on TV and news stories about her all weekend long. On Monday afternoon – afternoon—at work we were at our cubicles all working away (new building, new arrangement) and a co-worker that is still living in a technological void pipes up with “Whitney Houston is dead!” We all said, Yes, we knew. And added under our breath that we had the Internet, a TV, and friends.

July 11, 2012

It Is Today

Filed under: At home,Cats,Childhood Memories,My Job,Normal Life,Radio stuff — Janice @ 8:43 pm

My friend Jenni gave me sweet props today in her blog, which flatters me to no end. I love her words and her photos and her creative abilities when it comes to gardens, crafts, food, and friendships. I often read her blog and think, “I was going to write about that!” or “I should write about that.” I’m waiting until some time passes to when I write about it, it won’t like I’m stealing the idea.

So I’m writing tonight because someone like me. That is my primary motivation for most of the things I do, I think. I wish I could say I was driven by an inner desire to achieve. Or even money, for heaven’s sake, but more often than not, as long as someone is telling me they like what I do, I’ll keep doing it.

So this update is not going to be cohesive, but it will be an update. What is going on today?

Right this minute I have a sweet kitten in my life. Flaco is almost 4 months old now and growing so fast, but he’s still a kitten. The minute I sit at my desk he is in my lap, purring, and looking for “Mama.” I don’t have what a mama would have, but he insists on nursing on my shirt front or pajama bottoms or whatever the case may be, looking for what a mama could give him. He was a little bottle baby, abandoned practically at birth, so he never knew a mama, or not for very long anyway, but his instincts are there.

I got a new phone today. I am anything but an “early adopter” when it comes to technology. I only got my first smart phone about 18 months ago. But it has not been a phone that has made me happy (it never tells me I’m doing a good job) so today I took advantage of my upgrade and got a new Samsung Galaxy SIII, the newest and best, I hear. So far I’ve made phone calls and sent texts with it so I’m happy with that part. And, lo and behold, I can text on that touch screen. When Mark got his first iPhone I couldn’t, for the life of me, hit the right keys. This one is very perceptive and you can even just drag your finger around the keyboard, it doesn’t even have to be touched. New innovations. So I am an early adopter for the first time and I truly believe I will have the newest and best cell phone in America until probably Monday when something new will hit the stores. Now that all smart phones look alike, no one knows how revolutionary right now.

Another big focus of the day is the MOLD in the air. If there is something in the air in Austin, I am bound to be allergic to it. Cedar, ragweed, elm, oak, grass, and mold are my nemisises (… nemasisae? I’m trying to remember my Latin plurals, but I can’t with a head full of snot). I had been watching the mold get higher and higher and didn’t know if rain downpours would clean the air, like it does for the tree and grass pollens, or make it worse because it is, after all, mold. It is definitely the latter. I watched Jim Spencer’s KXAN weather this evening and his lead story was the VERY HIGH mold count at 27000+ particles per square meter… the highest reading he has every seen in the last 20 years or so. More rain tonight and possibly tomorrow and then the molds will probably grow even harder and faster for a week or more, so I am anticipating lots of breathing through my mouth and sore throat and sneezing as if I were one of the seven dwarves.

I am VERY happy for the rain, though. Do not get me wrong on that. Monday evening, a downpour that I got caught in, Tuesday another, today another and I was out in this one, too, and more on the way. It is a rare July to get this much rain and I’m happy for it.

Another issue of the day is that I have “the zaps.” If you’ve ever had them, you know what they are. Tiny electrical jolts coming from the brain and coursing through the neurological system of the body. It comes from changing from one medication to another. I guess technically it is just from going off the first one, but I was hoping the zaps would be minimal since I’m going on another, but we’ll have to wait and see. This has been two days of zaps, with them getting particularly bad today. It’s not just the jolt, it is also the briefest moment of discombobulation, like when the elevator starts or stops too fast. As for the electricity, I can state for certain that it IS electricity from my childhood experiments.

When I was a kid, we had cows in our pastures and Daddy had an electric fence up around the pasture to keep the cows in. It had a box the size of a car battery that hung on the wall in the barn and two glowing spheres of red would flash on and off as it sent out the powerful jolts of electricity. With each one it made an ominous clicking sound to remind you that this was dangerous stuff. But it was also a fun adventure to line up, about five in a row, hold hands, and then have the person on one end touch the ground while the person on the other end touched the fence. A click later and we broke that chain with a yowl and a giggle and then we’d do it again, sometimes changing places. The people on the ends really got a jolt, while the person in the middle only had the mildest bit of electricity coursing through them. Ah, good times. Now I don’t want you to think my father was irresponsible in letting us do this. Though, now that I think about it, did he tell us how to do it in the first place? Whatever, there were many times that he would warn us that he currently had the fence on a higher power and we shouldn’t be touching it at all because it was dangerous. We heeded his word and didn’t have our fun if we’d been warned.

And I am also becoming involved in a bit of radio again and that is next on my list of To-Do’s tonight. I have been on the afternoon show of a radio station north of Dallas for the last several years. Or at least my voice is there. I have pre-recorded a lot of things and they are just plugged into the program so a voice is saying hello as people listen and go about their day. My friend Steve, the owner, wants me to do new ones each day and be current and topical. There isn’t a lot of work involved, but it is the thinking about WHAT to say that stymies from time to time. In “real” radio where you are under the gun because the clock is ticking, you have breaks that are boring or lame or you don’t say anything except the name of the song because that’s as much time as you had to prepare (or you were in the traffic office visiting with your friend Ann, which was usually the case with me). When it is prerecorded, you don’t have that luxury. If it sounds lame, you record it again. Currently, we are just trying it out to see if I want to do this every day. I’ll try to remember to keep you posted.

Flaco just let out a big sigh. He has quit purring and is sound asleep now while my legs fall asleep from being on tip toes so he doesn’t fall off my lap. He probably wants me to get my tasks done so we can adjourn to someplace more comfortable.

Now go read all of Jenni’s old blog posts and great recipes and crafty things and go listen to the artists she promotes, too. And maybe I’ll get back on the writing horse because of her.

May 1, 2012

My Job, Part I

Filed under: Music,My Job,Normal Life — Janice @ 10:28 am

I have never written about my job in detail here, so I want to give you a taste of what I do.

I have had several jobs in my life that people say “Oh how cool!” Being a DJ, obviously, was one of those that people thought would be super fun. It was. Now I have a job with the title “Music Designer,” just like someone might be an Interior Designer, I design the music for a business. Again, people say “How cool!” Lots of co-workers in the building think it is the coolest job in the company and are envious. They are right. It is.

So what does a Music Designer do? Truly, there are a lot of boring parts in most days, just like any job. I usually start my day (late) and read the emails that have come in and deal with anything urgent there. Urgent might mean that a program I have running has run out of songs and needs to be updated. That is rare since we get warnings if that email is going to be coming. Urgent might be questions from my boss or co-workers. The worst urgent is an email telling me that one of my programs has profanity or some other unacceptable song in it and it needs to be re-issued (we call it “republished”) immediately. This can be bad news for the company because the cost involved can be very high. If, for instance, you do the music for a store with 1000 stores in the chain, we might have to re-print 1000 discs (they aren’t CDs, but similar) and send them by a speedy method to 1000 locations. A $10 mailing charge times 1000 locations? You can see why we do NOT want to get an email like that.

So that leads to a lot of what I do …  While many people picture me listening to music I like and just bopping along, enjoying the tune, a lot of my time is spent listening to music I expect to use in a program and checking it for profanity or other things we don’t want in a song (some people don’t want religious references, some don’t want drinking references, most don’t want references to morbid subjects, like suicide, etc.). Friday I was listening to 7 to 10 songs by the heavy metal band Avenge Sevenfold (I think that was their name) for these things. Surprisingly, they were mostly acceptable. No, this isn’t music that I would choose to put into anyone’s program, but I have a casino in Connecticut as a client and they like to have music in their program by the artists that are performing there that week. This band is playing there in June so I needed to get their music into the program. The week after this band, there was an 80s dance music show with about 10 performers on the bill. The only one I recognized was Vanilla Ice, so I included Ice, Ice, Baby, of course, and then I had to see if there were songs in our database by the other performers and then find out which ones (if any) were hits that people might recognize (since I didn’t) and then I had to listen to all of them and see what lyric problems they might have. Heavy metal, rap and dance, and who knows what. This casino has so many different styles of music it is rather weird to have them all in the same program. As a Music Designer, I would NOT recommend it, but they are the client. And when I am in a casino and I hear the noise levels of the machine and the people and barely hear the music, I realize that it probably doesn’t make a whole lot of difference.

When I’ve finished with a little project like that, I might go to work on another client’s music, gathering appropriate songs and compiling them for their monthly update. Each client is different in what combination of types of music they want, so I have to remind myself of their current program and then go hunting. Right now I have 3 clients that use a LOT of Texas Country music. That is one of my specialties, so I have been working to get licensing for a lot of the artists from Texas so that we can use their music. I also try to put their music in other programs to make it worth their while to go through the hassle of being licensed with us (we do pay them, it is worth it). Some of my clients have lots of the current top 40 music in their programs. Some of these songs on the charts are songs I don’t use in any other programs, so, again, I have to listen to them and familiarize myself with them. Some I may choose NOT to use because even though the client THINKS they want all the hits, I can hear that some of these are too far out there for them or the themes are too dark or too sexy or something. I use my judgment on these things. But it requires me listening to a whole lot of music that I don’t like.

But I also take care of a lot of programs that are not specifically for one client, but many might use the program. Stuff like “hits from the 60s,” “hits from the 50s,” “country,” “traditional country,” “bluegrass,” etc. I enjoy most of these because there is a clear-cut delineation of what works and what doesn’t work on most of them. Was it a hit? Is it the right era or genre? This week I did a lot of work on the 60s program. It is ever-evolving because our technology upgrades and then I can use better versions of the same song, so I am always looking to see if I can find a better quality version of songs that are already in the program. Many times I do checks and realize that there are missing songs from an artist. Perhaps when someone else started this program we didn’t have that song, or maybe I missed it at some time, or we didn’t have it. But now, I am looking at, say, hits by the Supremes and I realize “Hey, I loved the song The Happening. Why isn’t it in here?” I’ll go and check and find that we do have it and I’ll add it. Or, if we don’t have it and I think it is important enough to have in the program, I’ll go searching for it in other databases where we can buy music and request it. I did that last week with Neil Sedaka’s slow 70s version of Breaking Up Is Hard To Do. And that made me think of Tony Christie’s song “Amarillo,” which was written by Neil Sedaka and was a minor hit for Christie, but I still wanted it, so I requested it, too.

A LOT of my time is that “oh that reminds me” thing that leads me far afield from the program I am working on. Or I’ll be working on, say, the 70s program and realize that one of these hits would be perfect for a restaurant I have music in so I’ll save that song in their folder so I’ll come back to it when their time comes. Or I’ll go see the whole list of songs by that artist and pull several for that restaurant or other stores. I may throw them out later when I come back to it, but at least it give me a start on finding their music.

Well, that’s enough for this entry of “What I Do.” This stuff fills up most of my time in most of my days, but isn’t my full job. We’ll get to that another day.

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