I started listening to Armand Demille sometime around 1996. It was that exciting time of both getting my learners permit (driving) and becoming more aware of the state of the world and humans in general. WBAI was, and still is today, this magical channel right there in the middle of the radio dial where you could hear voices like no where else on the radio dial. Grandpa Al Lewis with his passionate fire for world affairs, Amy Goodman who described the world from the bottom up, Gary Null who tool a militant wholistic approach to health, and there in the middle of it all was this gentle voice who spoke lovingly about each and every caller and would end so many calls by saying “call my office, we can work on this.” His show brought simple and beautiful themes like “fear”, “happiness”, “grief”, etc etc. In those days I was still a teenager and kept my love of this program that focused on emotions and psychology- a secret, listening only when I was in the car alone or working in the back lot at my first job at the garden center. Armand would speak from the heart and encourage everyone around him to find out what their heart was saying as well. He also brought kind and interesting guests, and of course unique music from around the world. He was a true lover of humanity and seemed impossibly busy with speaking with them for most of his life.
From the age of 16 to now almost 36, I have taken Armand and the Positive Mind with me to every corner of the world. From my late teens and university life in New Jersey and New York, to a new life in Lisbon and then Amsterdam, to the war zone of Afghanistan, the post-war zone of Kosovo, to the vast emptyness of Mongolia and beyond, Armand has been with me every step of the way.
In my mind he had no age. His voice and his ideas where as strong today as they were back when I first discovered him. His program and wisdom were as reliable as night turning to day. It never occurred to me that we could lose this fantastic international treasure.
As so it was that I learned of Armand’s passing this week at 75 years of age. Just like that, from one day to the next, this voice in my life that has had so much influence, ends. Of course there are the recordings, which I will treasure for as long as I live, and the ideas and values, which perhaps continue in each one of us, his faithful listeners. But beyond on that, we- as a world- still lose someone very special who made a real difference in millions of lives around the world. Thank you Armand. I will continue to take your wisdom with me wherever I go and will pass on your contagious spirit of possibility and positivity, any chance I get.
Frank Edward Nora believes, as that now cliché Chinese proverb says, we actually do live in very interesting times. Part of his love and dedication to creating original audio content and preserving bits of audio from the past is because of his interest in what will be available for future generations. For over ten years he has produced the Overnightscape, a personal audio journey, a chronical of one man’s daily life and thoughts in the New York City Tri-State area.
On today’s podcast, a long overdue meeting, as I sit down with Frank in Manhattan, and discuss his role in the big picture of internet, media production, and history.
As far as the internet goes, what you recorded last week might be interesting. What you recorded last year might be fondly remembered. And what you recorded last year is pretty much gone. At least, that is how it often feels as a content creator. That being said, as someone who loves discovering treasure buried under this year’s internet, what happens in 2007 has as much value to me as 2012; I discover things when I discover them and its beautiful and memorable every time.
Tonight the treasure I found came to me while night jogging on a late winter’s night, the voice of someone named Annie Correal, a radio piece entitled “Kidnap Radio” from 2010. It was the story about a radio program in Colombia, dedicated to and broadcasted for those who are in captivity somewhere in the jungle. It is also dedicated to their families, to communicate their messages of love and support, to let captives know they aren’t forgotten and that their families are doing ok, waiting for their return. The radio producer, this beautiful voice guiding my run, was herself the daughter of a kidnap victim. She tells of how it happened, with help from – to my great joy – the voice of her father who was released in the year 2000, after 265 days in captivity. Annie talks about how her family was one of those that would go on the radio show “Voices of Kidnapping” to broadcast messages to her father. You even hear the recording of her step-mother and siblings, talking into the microphone, hoping their father was listening, telling him about school and things happening in their lives. Amazingly, her father heard that message from wherever he was being held in the jungle. A message that gave him hope and strength to carry on, waiting for that day when he might be released.
Of course there are many other stories within the story of Kidnap Radio. Not all had such a positive ending, with many families still waiting for their loved ones to be released, some who will never see that day come. But what struck me as I followed the winding paths in the darkness, listening to Mr. Correal speak about the color and quality of this radio that he took such delicate care of, is the power that this -nowadays overlooked- tool can have. In a world where commercials and uncreative “cost-effective” programming has taken over most radio stations and most of us (including myself) look to the internet as the new beacon of communication – it is the radio that can still reach you in the middle of the jungle. It is radio that can broadcast your hopeful message to someone who so urgently needs to hear it.
The internet is great, no doubt about it. But right here in this little plastic box with an antenna, even in 2012, there is tremendous power accessible to all, if only it could be set free.
In the late 80’s and early 90’s, my parents built a studio in the basement of our home. This plywood and carpet creation would become the home for The Voice of Portugal, which proudly served the Portuguese of New Jersey for almost a decade. It was this very spot where I first spoke into a microphone as a child. 20 years later I’m standing on that same spot, recording a podcast update about this current journey in the United States, and the new projects I have launched this year.
I mention 2 new projects; 2 new weekly podcasts Im involved with: