I’ve been thinking a lot about what RFNE is and what I want it to be. It’s been through many iterations in the past 6 years – from interviews and commentary, to just commentary, to guest contributors, back to interviews, and then to a music show.
This thinking started because after having between 15-60 listens for my first seven shows, Episode 8 had four. Four. The problem with that, especially, is that I thought it was a great episode! (Check it out – be number
5 9) The music was good, I made well-researched connections, it was certainly not mailed in. Am I Wolfman Jack or Howard Stern? Absolutely not, but for me, it was one of the better shows. I struggled to figure out what went wrong.
What I gather when I hear from people who listen is that RFNE means different things to each of you. Some prefer the commentary and the philosophical waxing of the audio essays while others like the “selection of music I wouldn’t otherwise listen to.” Still others value it for the artist and song stories – something increasingly rare on radio and almost unheard of in the world of streaming.
To me, RFNE has been all of these things and more. It’s a way for me to explore passions long dormant in my day job, where triage rather than exploration is the dominant theme. Still, I’m weary of the all-things-to-everyone model because it frequently means being unsatisfying to everyone. I could, as I’ve essentially done slowly over the years, let it adapt to my current interests and time constraints.
One thing I’ve done, with a little shame, is to agonize over how to build followers and optimize. That’s meant trying the social media thing, reading pro radio blogs, etc. I have found that neither productive nor “me.” At this time, you can expect that the little social media presence RFNE has had will be going away. Just like some people don’t buy from non-union places, or others from right-wing bakers, I will not continue to even tacitly support Facebook’s algorithms and other platform’s dominance of conversation, the public square, and creator’s minds. I hate listicles, and I bet you do, too. But, I also bet you, like me, have wasted time reading some and working your way through a stream built by someone whose only real goal is to keep you streaming on, not edifying you, or even genuinely entertaining you. I’m not alone in thinking this. Countless articles have been written about social media’s built-in addiction machine and eyes-on end game.
The Future of RFNE
At the end of the day, if four or 4000 people listen to an episode, it doesn’t really matter. I’ve enjoyed making it and the thing to be valued is the community built around shared interests – whether that’s a small or large community is insignificant.
On that basis, from now on, I’m simplifying my RFNE presence. No more chasing followers. I want a digital home – it’s rfne.org – that’s it. Like we do in our physical homes, rfne.org will continue to reflect me – my tastes, what I’m reading, listening to, thinking about right now. Just like we can show our tastes in palette choices, furniture, what books or albums we leave around, you can expect that RFNE will have a smattering of things – links, audio, and video, written blogs/essays, and more.
The web, in the early days of blogging, and into the 2000s, was more conversational, more thoughtful and deeper. People had their own sites. People weren’t writing for google or facebook likes, they were writing for each other and their followers. The same is true of early podcasts. People grabbed mics, did shows and connected with their communities.
Most of what got me started with digital media – blogging and podcasting, both – was this thoughtful, conversational approach. Podcasts like Late Night Live out of Australia, with a thoughtful host who interviews a variety of people and talks about a really wide variety of thoughtful things from science and history to a big picture view of world events. His guests include scientists, politicians, PhDs and journalists, including Bruce Shapiro of the Nation (click here for his author page).
And, of course, as far as written blogging is concerned, who better than Andrew Sullivan and his gang over at The Dish? I’m sure most of you have read Andrew Sullivan. If you haven’t, click the Dish link above. It’s an archive of his former site. Though he stopped his “24/7” blog, he still writes for New York Magazine and is generally a blogger-about-town on news programs, podcasts, and the like.
That’s, truly, what I’ve always been after – an engaged community where we can think together, share ideas, music, articles, and more together. So, here’s how we’ll do this:
- No more Facebook, etc. It’s too much to keep up, and I do it poorly. I’m not built for social media.
- Instead, my online home is rfne.org. I’ll post my music shows, podcasts, and blog entries there. It’s best if you bookmark the site, add it to an rss feed, or follow it via email.
- Since many of you also follow via my email newsletter, that option remains open, too. Newsletters, also, feel more like blogs than Facebook and Twitter. They’re personal, they go to your inbox, and unless you’re still scrolling through emails, it’s distraction free and algorithm free. You can add your email address by clicking here if you want to follow what I’m doing that way.
I want – need – your participation.
Remember how cool it felt to sit around with friends and share ideas – books, essays, great songs? Maybe you had this experience in high school or college, maybe you’re lucky enough to still have it now. RFNE can work like that, too.
So, instead of asking you to post or comment in thirty-million places, let’s simplify: email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or, if you want your voice on the podcast, you get two choices – record a voice memo and email it or call (207) 536-8997 and leave your ideas as a voicemail.