WBHM 90.3 FM, Birmingham’s public radio station, brought NPR’s Scott Simon to the Lyric Theatre on Saturday, June 10, for a live broadcast of Weekend Edition.
Fans rose early Saturday morning to get through the door and in their seats by 6:30 a.m. in time for the start of the 7 a.m. broadcast. The Lyric Theater was transformed into a makeshift, yet magnificent radio studio with the Weekend Edition’s production crew and their equipment set up in front of the stage. Simon was front and center on stage with a few stools for the special guests scheduled to come for the live segments.
“We’re not fancy here,” WBHM General Manager Chuck Holmes confessed. “You’re getting to see behind the curtain.”
Disclosure: This post is made possible by WBHM 90.3 FM, our media partner for the Bloganista Mini-Con presented by Laura Vincent Printing & Design, but all opinions are my own.
“OH-EM-GEE! Mrs. Bowser, I just heard you on the radio!”
I have to admit that there’s nothing quite like the feeling I get when my students (I’m a teacher by day/ blogger by night) run into my classroom squealing because they’ve just heard me on WBHM 90.3 FM, Birmingham’s NPR affiliate.
I started blogging for WBHM.org about two years ago on race and gender issues. The gig evolved and eventually the folks in charge decided to occasionally put me on air to discuss my essays. At first hearing my own voice made me cringe. “I sound so country!” I’d exclaim. “I sound like I have the I.Q. of a sweet potato,” I once told my husband. Then I realized I wasn’t practicing what I preach. I often tell my students to embrace and adore their Southern accents and to not be ashamed of them. It’s the same philosophy I followed when I went to grad school in California at UC Berkeley. I refused to try to conceal my accent. I refused to stop saying “Y’all” and I boasted about my ability to stretch a one-syllable word into three. Because I was so proud of my accent and of my home the notion to ridicule the way I talked or where I was from seemed silly and so no one did. In fact, instead my classmates were all eager to visit the South.
Hearing my voice on WBHM helped me love my accent again and reminded me that what I was saying was much more important than how I sounded saying it. When people mentioned my WBHM segments to me they weren’t talking about my voice, they were talking about my ideas. My pieces broached topics like feminism, colorism, and my love for Birmingham. I even confessed on air that I hate Christmas! Those are the things people wanted to discuss with me, not my accent.
If you’ve ever thought about pitching a story idea to WBHM, now is your chance!
Currently the bosses at WBHM are seeking to include more listener commentary in the station’s programming. Check out this piece by John Houser on biking in Birmingham for an example of the kinds of pieces they’d like to publish and read the commentary guidelines for more details.
Pieces should present opinion or personal experience but can also be connected to the news or public affairs if they provide food for thought on the issue. Obviously, the pieces should be well-written and should show that you’re a keen observer who can read meaning into the small details of everyday life.
Be sure to tune in to WBHM 90.3 FM daily. For the next 10 days you could hear a spot announcing the Bloganista Mini-Con presented by Laura Vincent Printing & Design as WBHM is our media partner for the event!
And please remember that WBHM is a listener-supported station. Click here to learn how you can help this station continue the great work it does for our community.
For about a year and a half now I’ve had the honor of writing a monthly column for WBHM 90.3 FM, Birmingham’s NPR station. And for the past year, in addition to writing for WBHM.org I also discuss my post for the month on air.
This month’s essay is about learning to love my name and learning to be proud of where I’m from.
Having a name like Javacia isn’t easy. When I introduce myself to people they typically look at me as if I’m a green girl from Mars. And there was a time when I worried that my unique name could be a liability. One look at my name and you know I’m black and I’ve been told that some potential employers might not hire me because of that. In my WBHM post I discuss how becoming a writer changed how I viewed my name.
Being from Birmingham isn’t easy either. People who’ve never stepped foot in the state of Alabama think they know what Birmingham is all about and criticize my Magic City. And to make matters worse, some Birmingham residents are ashamed of their home. But just as I had to respect my name before I could expect other people to do so, we must be proud of our city if we ever want perceptions of Birmingham to improve.
Visit WBHM.org to read my post and listen to my radio segment.
Each day in November for #bloglikecrazy I’ll be publishing a blog post that answers your questions about blogging, social media, writing, wellness or women’s empowerment. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
My love for Public Radio WBHM 90.3 FM is no secret. This year on Valentines’ Day I posted an open love letter to Birmingham’s NPR station right here on this blog. And when WBHM volunteered to be a July sponsor for See Jane Write Birmingham and See Jane Write Magazine, I began to appreciate the station’s dedication to support its community even more. But there are reasons that you, women writers of Birmingham, should love our local NPR station too. 1. At Thursday’s See Jane Write Magazine launch party WBHM is giving away two 15-oz. glasses that feature acustom, public radio-inspired “Listen & Be Transported” painting by local artist Bethanne Hill.
2. NPR features so many author interviews there’s a whole page dedicated to them on the NPR website. WBHM marketing manager Audrey Atkins, who is also a writer and blogger, said, “Personally, I learn a lot from hearing about other authors’ creative processes, what drives them, what inspires them, why they wrote what they wrote, how they wrote what they wrote, how long it took them, their frustrations, their victories.”
3. With its Crime in the City series NPR focused on one piece of the writing process — location — and created an entire series based on it. Crime in the City focuses on different cities that were used as the setting for a detective novel. This summertime series is sure to get you mystery writers inspired. Why do you love public radio?
When I was a teenager I believed no one could love me like my radio.
It was always there for me. I listened to the radio while getting ready for and riding to school each morning. My radio made evening homework sessions go by faster and every night my radio sang me to sleep.
I still have fond memories of calling my favorite DJ to request my favorite song and then waiting by the radio with a blank cassette in the tape deck so I could record the highly anticipated track.
R&B ballads by the likes of Mariah Carey gave me fuel for all the sad, angst-filled love poems I wrote back then. And the anthems sang by girl groups like TLC stirred within me a sense of self-pride that would eventually blossom into my feminism.
Then one day everything changed. Radio and I grew apart.
I could try to blame it all on mainstream music. I could say rap music became too sexist and senseless and that pop and R&B became too trite. But, truthfully, I’m the one who changed. My favorite artists became folks like Ani DiFranco, musicians who don’t get mainstream radio airplay. And most club bangers started to give me a headache.
So I turned off my radio.
Then you came along.
I admit that in the past I was never a huge NPR fan because I felt the radio was supposed to be a source of escape and entertainment. As I grew older I started tuning in to NPR for updates on major news events, but was still far from a loyal listener.
But when I moved back to my hometown of Birmingham I decided to give you a chance. You impressed with your programming and with events like I quickly got hooked on station’s programming and was impressed by events like Issues & Ales.
Radio and I began to rekindle the flame, and I owe it all to you.
I am a fan of good music for the same reason that I am a writer — I love stories. And you are always there telling me an intriguing tale whether it’s about life for children in Palestine or the story of a gay man being reunited with his siblings after being cast out the family by his ultra conservative father. Just last week I learned about the evolution of hand dryers. You’re so awesome that you can make hand dryers interesting! And two weeks ago, thanks to you, I began my day with an inspiring interview with Sonia Sotomayor.
Because of you I am more informed, more empathetic, and more motivated.
What I’m trying to say is you make me a better person.
And I can’t get enough of you.
I’ve become one of those people who are almost late for work because they’re sitting in the parking lot in their cars enraptured by an NPR feature report. Every weekend I look forward to listening to the word game Says You.
And you don’t forgot that I love music too. If it weren’t for you I would have never learned about the artist Kendra Morris, whose album Banshee was one of my favorite releases of 2012.
I am so happy we’re taking our relationship to a new level and making things official now that I’ve signed on to be the Race & Diversity blogger for your website.
And today is Valentine’s Day, so let’s celebrate and dance to our song.
State of the Re:Union is a public radio show and website that sets out “to explore how a particular American city or town creates community, the ways people transcend challenging circumstances and the vital cultural narratives that give an area its uniqueness.” The program’s latest episode is on the Magic City, Birmingham, Ala., and features writing by yours truly. Stop by the site and check out my letter to the city.
There’s even audio of me reading portions of the letter in the show. My reading is about 19 minutes into the show.
Here’s an excerpt of the letter:
I guess you always knew I’d come back to you.
Wooed by the palm trees of California’s East Bay Area, Seattle’s cool summers and snow capped mountains, and the bluegrass of Kentucky, I left you; for six years I called other cities home.
But I came back to the rich red earth that birthed me.
I came back to taxed groceries, seemingly endless DMV lines and poor customer service. I came back to government scandals and corrupt local politicians who have nicknames like La La. I came back to crime reports that scare suburbanites away from your downtown.
But I am not afraid of you.
Click here to read the entire letter and listen to the show. (You’ll find links to letters to the city on the right side of the page.)