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Thalia Book Club Camp offers up-close interaction with renowned children's book authors and illustrators, book discussions, and book-related field trips around the city. This blog follows the camp's activities.

Well, It’s Autumn

Published on September 29, 2007

Hello again, friends. Well it’s autumn and our Symphony Space 30th Anniversary season has gotten underway. We had the Members’ Open House and some of you were there. If you missed it you missed some tasty previews of what’s to come–not to mention some great eats up on stage afterwards, but it’s okay. If you missed the previews, you can still come to the shows themselves!

One of the celebratory events that are part of the Thirtieth Anniversary is the planned Birthday Party show to take place on Thursday evening, January 10th (as close as we can come to exactly thirty years since the first WALL TO WALL BACH marathon on January 7, 1978). I promised my colleagues a star-studded extravaganza before and after the champagne toast at intermission. So I’ve been getting invitations out to over 130 stars, great and small, who have been part of thirty years of our ventures in literature, music, dance, and film. The way I figure it, if half are able to say yes they can make it, I’ll have sixty-five stars and will have to figure out what they will each do! The letters went out only a few days ago and already the first eighteen replies all say YES! Now I’m beginning to worry about what I’ll do if this keeps up and I get 130 stars to star-stud a two-hour show, and that includes leaving some time for the champagne!

This past Thursday, I spent a day in Minneapolis at the annual Public Radio Program Directors Conference being held in that city this year. As you may have already heard, SELECTED SHORTS has made the leap from NPR, distributor of the series for many years, to their rival, PRI, Public Radio International. (This won’t make any difference to stations or listeners–we’ll still be on at the same time, same station.) But it means that PRI will try to get MORE stations, in cities where SELECTED SHORTS is not presently heard, to carry the show.

And that’s why our PRI friends thought I should come to Minneapolis for at least one day of the convention, as they launched the new season of SHORTS, so that I could be introduced to Program Directors of our “target” stations and urge, beg, plead, cajole, and convince them that their listeners will enjoy our programs.

Now working the room in the atrium of the Minneapolis Marriott is an art I am just learning. You carry your drink, and in your handy pockets are giveaway SHORTS CDs and you look for names of people you are supposed to collar and persuade. Only you don’t look at their collars, you look at their chests, trying to see the names on their nametags attached to the red public radio lanyard around their necks.

Then when you see someone you really must talk to, say the head of Boston’s WGBH, and he is in earnest conversation with someone pitching him HIS show, you have to stand nearby, but not TOO nearby, and sort of half smile and not be rude and interrupt, but also not let the target fish escape when the person dominating him finally shuts up after saying, “I’ll send you the CD”.

I did the best I could, talking to Program Directors from stations in Boston, Baltimore, Tampa, San Francisco, Cleveland, Atlanta, and many others, though I couldn’t get to everyone I wanted to see.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that PRI had made a life-size cardboard cut-out of all their hosts, including me, and I have pictures of me talking to that Cardboard Sheffer, a fine fellow who is taller and slimmer than I am. We were going to try bringing the cardboard Sheffer home with me in the plane, folded up so as not to require a separate airline ticket, but the PRI people said they would use it at future promotional events. Too bad, if we had it here, we could place it in the lobby of Symphony Space and relieve me of my practice of hanging out in the back to greet people.

More blogging soon on our beautiful renovated Symphony Space web site!

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