Friday, October 22, 2010

When the Music's Over...

Whole Wheat Radio and its mission of providing a grassroots, all-volunteer, donation supported website and webcast that competently and without mainstream advertising supports independent musicians and their craft is offline.

With these words founder Jim Kloss ended a musical adventure that made my, and many others' I am sure, days more pleasant. At any hour I could instantly tap into a stream of fine music by a wide, wide array of musicians, songwriters and poets. Some better than others but all interesting. I can barely begin to name the many musicians I heard first and only on WWR: Danny Schmidt, The Clumsy Lovers, Girlyman, John Flynn, Small Potatoes, Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie, Emily Kurn, Kristina Olsen, Trish Murphy,... You get the idea.

House concerts at WWR were a wonderful opportunity to hear live music. Even without video, a house concert was an intimate expereince; I could hear the audience and participate in a live chat. A house concert during the 2005 Winter Solstice was a holilday recital by Talkeetna piano students,a small town community experience shared round the world.

From the listening end, it was great. Probably less great on the operating side, as is evident from Jim's letter of resignation. A work of love turned into a job and as, everybody knows, jobs suck. Work can be energizing, a job rarely so. He made the right call. Jim is now free to open some new doors.

WWR's demise is certainly a loss. Not only for my enjoyment but also for the many artists who found listeners there. I'm sure they have other outlets but few are likely to be as open and independent as WWR. All that said, WWR demonstrated and used the possibilities of the internet to create a lively and dynamic model. One lesson from all that is that grassroots, independent efforts are possible. Maybe other visionaries will build on the experience to create yet another model. Who knows? What I do know is that for over five years I have had access to a LOT of fine music.

My connection to WWR goes beyond my listening experience. My friend Cile (whose blog has lots of links to musicians often heard on WWR)introduced me to WWR in 2003 when she planned her 50th birthday in Talkeetna. Maggie and I were in Alaska then and met her there. Jim and Esther were part of that celebration and I had the opportunity to meet them in their 12 x 12 plywood shack, WWR's original home. By September 2003, they had added a small studio wing but the computer and cables still took about a quarter of their sleeping loft. It was a tight fit. Knowing the people and place behind the webcast made it all that more personal.

Thanks, Jim. I hope you find much joy and wonder when you open those future doors.



Anonymous Jingles said...

I am a school for the students i was browsing to find some jingles during search i got your post that also good not related to the students requirement but i like it.

11:45 PM  
Anonymous cile said...

Well said, Mark. I feel that I received from my experience of Whole Wheat Radio more than I was ever able to give back. So much music; so much love; so little time. I'm delighted that you hopped on board years ago and found so much there too.

God speed, J & E.

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Jim Kloss said...

Thank you for your keen insights and taking the time to write them. Thank you for the quiet, ongoing support you provided her over many years. It is what kept her going so others, most of whom did not care about her more noble mission, could listen. Your intelligent presence and quiet activist involvement mattered a great deal to her, and to me, even if only two or three of us knew who you were, standing there in the shadows, listening, intently.

Very few, painfully few, were able to hear her steady, dignified heartbeat beneath her entertaining musical breath. Your essay and support clearly indicate you were among the small, select group of friends who really knew and loved her.

Cause of death was a heart attack induced by asphyxiation and years of malnutrition. A bunch of her kids stood round her deathbed laughing, chatting about traffic, weather, fast cars, what they ate for breakfast and what an ugly old bitch she was lying there gasping, pleading for someone to hold her hand, help her sit up so she could keep breathing in order to sing. It was one hell of a party, lots of yucking it up and laughing, as she finally closed her mouth and slipped off silently with as much dignity as she could.

Her true friends, you among them, quietly carried her body off and gently laid her to rest. Thank you ... may peace be with you.

9:04 AM  
Anonymous maggie said...

A legend I tell you, a legend in our own time.

3:07 PM  

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