Oh God, is it Tuesday afternoon already? Like I told you last week I’ve been very busy with a couple of radio projects. I hope you listened to Living Earth Connection this past Sunday. If you haven’t heard it yet, you can download it or stream it by clicking the links below:
It’s a really good show. That John Hardin is a pretty bright guy, and he’s good at explaining stuff. You could easily find worse ways to spend an hour.
Coming up this Thursday, Sept. 4 at 5pm on KMUD you can hear the other radio project, the one that has kept me too busy to write this past week. Amy and I call this show Wildlife Matters. You might have read about it in The Redwood Times, The Independent, The Times Standard, The Mad River Union, or The Lumberjack. You might have seen it on facebook, or on my Youtube channel. If you missed that media buzz, hey at least I’m giving you a “heads up” 24 hours in advance right here at your favorite SoHum blog.
I fear, however, the show will come as a complete surprise to people who rely on KMUD for information about upcoming KMUD programming. Apparently, the nice promo I sent them, disappeared into a black hole and was never heard from again.
This happens pretty regularly, We have a great staff at KMUD, and some wonderful volunteers, but KMUD is a dynamic organism containing a high degree of internal chaos. I try not to take it too personally.
My partner Amy Gustin and I collaborated on this show, and it will replace, at least in terms of my commitment to it, the radio show I’ve produced for over four years, The SHARC (Southern Humboldt Amateur Radio Club) Report. After producing 53 half hour shows, at least tangentially related to Ham radio, I am out of ideas and ready for a new challenge.
I wanted to do a show that was a little more ambitious, in terms of production values, and I wanted to work collaboratively. I love working with Amy, and she pitched me a great idea for a show, so here we go. Amy loves wildlife, especially wild animals, and she likes to do research. I like writing, editing and producing. With Wildlife Matters, Amy gets to make a show about the topics she is interested in, and I get to make the kind of show I want to make.
We jumped into this project as soon as we finished last Sunday’s Living Earth Connection show. We recorded the interview with Monte Merrick in his office near Arcata a couple of weeks ago when we made a trip up North, to perform, on Theremin and didgeridoo, no less, at the Humboldt Maker’s Street Fair in Oldtown Eureka.
It was great to talk to Monte. Monte came to our attention a couple of years ago as “Bird Ally X,” the man who came to the rescue of hundreds of oiled, starving and injured pelicans all up and down the Lost Coast.
He became a musical inspiration when we heard him speak at Godwit Days, a birders event that happens every Spring in Arcata. At Godwit Days, Monte reported on this whole pelican disaster, and how they responded to it. To accompany this heartrending story, off-stage a lone banjo player picked out some of the slowest, saddest, dockside pelican conjuring banjo music I ever heard.Amy and I talked about that presentation a bit, and those talks eventually turned into The Big Picture.
Monte came to our attention again, recently, when he asked that the renewal of the County’s contract with Wildlife Services be removed from the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors’ “consent calendar.” In other words, Monte told the Board of Supes, “I know you’ve been paying this guy to kill animals for almost a hundred years, but maybe it’s not really such a good idea, and I think we deserve a chance to talk about it.” We talked about it. Unfortunately, the Supes renewed the contract anyway.
That’s what gave us the idea for the show. People don’t know enough about Wildlife Services, at least I didn’t, until Amy started filling me in about their history, their practices, and their political maneuverings.
We asked Monte Merrick for an interview because he obviously knows a lot about Wildlife Services, and, as co-director of Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, he knows a lot about humane alternatives to the trap-and-kill policy of Wildlife Services. He was kind enough to grant us an interview, at the office, on the weekend, and we very much appreciate the time he took with us.
While Amy reviewed the recording, I worked on the theme music and the promo. Amy identified the clips we wanted to use and developed the angle for the show, I worked out the show’s format. I wanted to produce a tight, scripted show with dialogue, that would also include unscripted interview excerpts, clips from speeches, sound samples etc.
We hammered out the dialogue together, one bit at a time, then rehearsed and recorded each bit individually, working them around the interview segments. Slowly, we assembled the show. I crafted the intro and ending with lots of animal noises, jungle sounds, and original theme music. Thanks to Patrick Rose for the djembe drum track. Just last night, we finished it, and it sounds pretty good.
This episode of Wildlife Matters looks at Wildlife Services, a shadowy branch of the USDA responsible for exterminating wolves in the early part of the 20th Century, and for killing millions of other animals every year, for over a century, using poisons and other indiscriminate methods. Wildlife Services amounts to subsidized pest control for farmers, ranchers, and rich people in their country estates, and to Wildlife Services, the life of the animal means nothing.
We contrast Wildlife Services with Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, who get no taxpayer funding, but handle the same kind of human/wildlife conflicts with an entirely different approach. We talk to Monte Merrick about the Humane Solutions movement, Humboldt Wildlife Care Center’s mission, and about his experiences with Wildlife Services.
So, that’s what the show is about, but I’m more excited about how it sounds. I hope you’ll tune in, just like you hope I’ll write something funny for next week.