In the summer of 2001 my wife and I realized we could work together on a meaningful project doing the things we love to do, and create a new radio program at the same time.
Sally is a voracious reader, especially partial to books that have to do with animals. I am an audio producer, and was affiliated with a public radio station at the time.
There were so many great books that Sally would read and tell me about, and we both thought it would be a great idea to share the information—to create a radio program that would feature segments about such books, as well as other related material.
I sent a few emails out to a small group of authors to see if they might share this interest. Susan Chernak McElroy, who had written “Animals as Teachers and Healers” was the first to respond, and was quite enthusiastic about the idea. She was living in Wyoming at the time; we were in Bloomington, Indiana. She sent me a cassette recording of an earlier book she had read, and I loved her voice and how she spoke.
From then on we collaborated long distance; I sent her a recording device, she sent me back some reading, and we began planning a show—many shows, in fact, with different themes. Susan flew out to meet us in February of 2003 for a week of brainstorming and planning.
This was to be a first of its kind program about the relationships we have with animals and the natural world. Not just pets, not about veterinary issues, and not the strident AM/Internet radio shows that were already out there.
Each show would consist of just a few basic elements:
• Susan interviewing authors, animal sanctuary providers and others, and telling her stories to
connect elements of the show in her unique way.
• Phoned-in messages from “real people” who had their own short messages to convey.
• Music transitions that amplified the emotional content and added an extra dimension to the show.
Slowly, I pieced together short segments. I audio-recorded events, wrote scripts and produced more segments. I solicited phone calls from would-be listeners. We contacted people by phone, conducted interviews, and eventually I had enough material to make this 50-minute pilot demo.
This is probably the 15th iteration of the program, which I reshaped from 2001 until 2006, or so.
We naively thought at first that we could get funding for such a project with a short demonstration piece and a booklet outlining the first 13 episodes and their themes. After many months…years, we found great interest, but no funding.
“It’s a great and bold idea and a great program, but it’s not for us.”
We used a “professional” fund-raiser, changed the show a bit, and still found no support.
So what you will hear is the final combination of elements, some of which were recorded many years ago (for example Carol Buckley, co-founder of The Elephant Sanctuary, is now somewhere else, a Web site mentioned is no longer online, that sort of thing).
I have a lot of unused material and phone calls left over that, for one reason or another, did not fit into this last edit. I still believe that there is an audience for a program like this, and I have always liked the idea of having the audience be part of the content by phoning in their own stories.
I think I’ve changed what we have enough to get the idea and feeling of the program across. It’s as much about feeling and emotion as it is about information and intellect. I hope you enjoy listening, and would welcome any email comments.
A link to the show on the Public Radio Exchange, which includes many of the segments as stand-alone items, and a few more pieces from animal communicator David Louis can be found here.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Pixoto/Sankaran Balaji