If you dig deep enough, you will find amazing little nuggets of culture and talent in our own backyard here in Tok, Alaska. Here’s a little email inteview I conducted with Bud Johnson of Acoustic Accents folk music radio show.
What is Acoustic Accents?
ACOUSTIC ACCENTS is a syndicated program taped at Spin Monkey Productions in Tok, Alaska and broadcast weekly in Alaska on KNBA-FM Anchorage, KBRW FM Barrow, KYUK Bethel, KUAC-FM Fairbanks, KIYU Galena, Nome Public Radio, KTNA-FM Talkeetna, and KCHU Valdez. The show is also transmitted via translators and repeater stations across Interior Alaska. Available live on the web at kuac.org, knba.org, and ktna.org.
On with the interview…
Me: When/where did you start Acoustic Accents?
Bud: Acoustic Accents was started in 1993 in Galena, AK at the small but vital community radio station KIYU.
Me: What inspired you to start it?
Bud: I started a contemporary jazz program called “Jazz etc” around 1991 that ran on KIYU Sunday nights and lasted 3 hours. Spending 3 to 4 hours at the station each week gave me lots of time to explore the station library and it wasn’t long before I discovered this group of contemporary folk musicians that really blew me a way. Most were on the now defunct Windham Hill label and many were on Rounder Records. I started to play a few tracks from these artists on my jazz show but they really didn’t work in that format so I decided to cut the jazz show down to 2 hours and lead in with 1 hour acoustic oriented show that featured folk, bluegrass, and other roots music. I called it Acoustic Accents and when I moved to Tok in 1998 I put Jazz Etc to rest for good and focused all my energy on the new show.
Me: What equipment did you use when you first started the show and what is different today?
Bud: I did my show live in the studio until 1998 when KUAC in Fairbanks became the first station to air a prerecorded version of my show. At that time I had set up a studio at my house that was very much like the one at the radio station with a mike, mixing board, and CD players. I recorded my show “live” to DAT tape and send the tape to KUAC. Every few months they’d send a box of old shows back so I could reuse the DAT cassettes which were pretty expensive. Today I still use the mike and mixing board but everything is recorded separately on the computer and then “assembled” using a software program called Sound Forge. I burn the show to CD’s which are mailed twice a month to the various stations that carry the show.
Bud: After I moved back to the road system in 1998 I started to record interview segments and performances at my studio in Tok and while traveling to festivals and conferences. To date, I have recorded about 60 interviews and along the way met some amazing people. Some of the more memorable include an interview I did with Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer in 2001, a little more than a year before Dave died from a massive heart attack (Dave was one month older than me). I also interviewed a brilliant Canadian artist named Colin Linden right after he had worked with the Coen brothers on “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and had a cameo role in their movie “Intolerable Cruelty”. Now he had some good stories! There have been many, many more great moments but suffice to say it has been a great pleasure to get to know personally so many of the artists that I admire and feature on the show.
Me: What are some of the challenges running the show?
Bud: Time, time, time!! It’s a labor of love and a major time commitment. I presently have seven stations that carry the show and it airs almost everyday of the week. To insure that shows arrive in time to air (via the postal service), I have to stay 2 – 4 weeks ahead in my programming. It can be a real juggling act with family commitments and responsibilities at work. Trying to fit in a vacation means I may be programming Christmas holiday music in October!
Me: Where can people hear your show?
Bud: My show can be heard across much of the state on nine stations and 11 translator stations and is also available via the web from four stations that stream. You can find a listing of times and stations on my web site at acousticaccents.net/index_files/onyourradiodial.htm
Me: If someone wants to hear your show at their local station, how do they get it to happen?
Bud: Contact the program director or station manager at their station and say “WE WANT ACOUSTIC ACCENTS!!”. Then give them my email address (budATacousticacents.net) or send them to my web site.
Me: What do you hope people get out of your show?
Bud: I hope people get the same sense of discovery and excitement that I get when I hear a new artist for the first time that really moves me. The ultimate compliment is when someone hears an artist for the first time on my show and then buys their recordings or attends one of their concerts. Then I feel I have provided a great service to both the artist and the listener.
Who else would you like to hear from in Tok? I’ll try to get an interview!