SHOWBIZ

My latest TV interview this week was a pleasant experience. But I was a little disappointed when told my allotted seven minutes would be shortened to three. To my surprise it turned out well. After my recent episode with the women’s club, I’d become slightly psychotic and thought it would be another fiasco, but thank God it wasn’t.

The invitation to be interviewed on local TV began with my friend Kirk Finley, Sports Director and Anchor Reporter for Time Warner Cable, Channel 3 in Lancaster, CA. He had come to my house the previous week to drop-off a CD he had edited from another show a year earlier when he had interviewed me for SO-CAL NEWS-3. It had been about my book, “Diary of a Young Musician: Final Days of the Big Band Era,” when I was going to have a book signing at Barnes & Noble.

While Kirk was at my house I showed him my new website, “Felix the Storyteller,” my son David had created and built. He was truly impressed with the site, especially the 31 cover illustrations by Disney animator John MacFarlane. He asked how I happened to get the idea of recording the stories myself. I told him my wife Shirley and I began editing and making small changes to improve all 38 of my children’s stories during the summer of 2007, taking about four months. I told Kirk a former student of mine, Susy Christiansen, now a composer with Disney, had suggested I go to a recording studio and record all 38 of my stories, but I felt totally insecure about doing them. Shirley and I realized it would be an expensive undertaking, so we decided to postpone the decision. A few weeks later Shirley bought me a first-class microphone and interface for Christmas. I now had my own small recording studio. My first attempt at recording one of my own stories was an excruciating experience, making me aware I needed practice—lots of it! I thought to myself, could buying that microphone have been a mistake? I had planned on personally recording only one or two, then hire a professional to do six or seven others. The only reason why I was going to record them was that David told me children liked to hear authors narrate their own stories. At the same time he had almost completed my new website that he’d volunteered to do. I emailed him the first two stories I’d recorded for his personal critique. Being a former editor he rejected both, but gave me great advice how to improve them. I must have learned my lesson well because his next critique a few weeks later was an ecstatic experience, telling me the third recording was fantastic, and the fourth was even better! I thought he was just being kind. He said they sounded so good I should record the other three or four myself rather than hire a professional. Instead of recording seven or eight as I had originally intended, I did 10, then 20, with 30 as my goal, but ended up doing all 38 stories that took me ten months to complete, a monumental task! I used GarageBand to record them on my Mac.

Kirk Finley really enjoyed hearing the story how I began recording, and before returning to the studio he asked if I would like to be interviewed again. I said I would. “You should tell the interviewer the same story you just told me,” he said, “it would be of interest to viewers.” I was surprised when Kirk called the next day and asked if I wanted to be on a show the following day, I would be a last minute replacement for someone who had cancelled. My allotted time would be seven minutes, about the time it takes me to take a long breath! Kirk took notes over the phone about my three careers for the host of the show. The way I figured it would take about an hour or longer to answer the number of questions he asked.

When I arrived at the studio the next morning I found out I was to be the last one interviewed by Mitchell Chase, host of “The Local Edition.” When it was time to be interviewed the crew immediately shuffled me in front of the cameras. With a few adjustments to my seat the host introduced me. Mitchell began the show by asking how I got my start as a professional musician. He then asked a question or two about my teaching career, and finally about my website and children’s books. I didn’t even have time to get nervous. Thanks to Mitchell Chase the entire interview was a great success, another notch in my belt.

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