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Letter From Home “Touchstone” 9/27/19

September 27, 2019


IMGP8260The weather in Madison is dark, gray, with patches of drizzle.  Days like this back home as a kid meant that outdoor chores needed to be put off, and those indoor projects could be started.  Or finished.  While James grew up in Maine, and I did the same in Wisconsin, it is comforting to know that certain values and concepts were embedded in each of us.  We treasure days like this.

So when the weather proved gloomy we finished a home project that had been underway a couple of weeks.  And had a great time making it all finally come to fruition. The purchase and refurbishing of the top two floors of our home this year have slowed and delayed almost every project.  It seems like workmen of one type or another have been here constantly.

We had located an oak dresser constructed in the 1890s–the same year as this Victorian home was built.  With the help of Rolf the piece of furniture had been transported here, and with some washing, buffing, and resurfacing it looks like the period-piece we desired.

After a young dinner guest arrived this week with his mom we discovered he had come via a large pickup truck.   While I poured a glass of wine to talk with my classmate, James and the transportation Godsend went to bring back the large round oak table of the type I had envisioned for use in podcasting.   As I joked to the group at dinner the table is the Charlie Rose variety–minus the improprieties.  It was made at the Twin Wisconsin Manufacturing Company decades ago.

Today all the pieces of the room came together for the first time.

The reason I wish to start podcasting has to do with a desire to do something new and be challenged with a project that I can undertake at my own pacing and energy level.  While the technical side of such broadcasts is far different than what I used on-air at WDOR  the same basic elements of professionalism will remain.   I have told folks at our home this summer, with arms extended full-length, that what was contained in the studio board in Surgeon Bay will be compacted, as I brought my hands together, into an (app)lication on the laptop on my table.

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But outside of my genuine love for this project comes a deeper reason for having prepared over the past months for what I plan to start prior to the end of the year.  So much has changed in our land over the past few years that at times the headlines of the day do not resemble a country I once knew.

What I seem to rebel at the most, however, is the lack of common-sense niceties and bonds of humanity that are ever more frayed.  What was once standard and a firm foundation of how folks act, has morphed into a squishy ever-moving floor to a new and ever-more troubling basement level.  I know at age 57 some of the changes can be labeled as what happens to all of us when growing older.  But I embrace change, in large part, as my fondness for computers and digital broadcasting demonstrates.

So I find myself reaching backward with some regularity to find those touchstones which not only molded my life but were the guardrails as I moved to adulthood.  Finding them to still be as true and worthy of my attention these decades later prove to me their longlasting merit.  I find that the basic core of my being is still very much intact. And given how so much of the world has turned up-side-down I am pleased that what resides deep within me still remains solid.  I want to podcast conversations about ideas and topics that make for thinking rather than rancor.

As we finished the assembly of the microphones in the annex I thought of the young boy back in Hancock who used his dad’s stopwatch, the daily newspaper for news and ad copy, while preparing ‘a newscast’.  Years later I recall the feeling of going live on the air the first evening at WDOR and spinning records interspersed with tidbits that any local everyday announcer shares with an audience.   I never before had felt so in control of the moment.  It was almost intoxicating.

Now there will be a different way of broadcasting to be mastered and promoted.   But with every step going forward will be a fond memory of what got me to this point in life.  It is those touchstones that have always secured my footing and taken me to the next chapter in life.



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