A few years back, I got approached by a large media company to host my own radio show but the deeper we got into discussions, the more the whole thing seemed governed by corporate policy. Like the record deal I’d avoided all these years was coming back in another form to try to convince me to take a tiny step away from freedom and authenticity (towards the patriarchy!). The punk kid in me balked and the grown woman felt suddenly exhausted. I drifted away from the deal and my mind drifted back to its default setting: its quest for self-sufficiency, “why would I even need them?” It was then that the dream of righteous babe radio began.
On one level, it was the dream of community. Sharing the music of my brilliant friends and collaborators… nerding out on revered influences… amplifying the sounds and words of my political and cultural inspirations. (In my fantasy, this is all magically at my fingertips!) I love national public radio, I love community radio, I love college radio. When I’ve lived in different cities, at different times in my life, I’ve kept company with different stations and those stations have felt like integral parts of my experience of each city. Living [not super commercial] radio has been a companion to me my whole life. I shudder to think where our “informed electorate” would be without NPR. I’ve never been lonely in New Orleans thanks to OZ. In the aftermath of Katrina, even local talk radio became an essential community bulletin and information lifeline.
Beyond the dream of community was maybe the simple fantasy of curation. You’d never know what you were gonna hear on righteous babe radio! It would be unpredictable, like our creative and spiritual intersections. It would paint a picture that is as vast and many faceted as the musical picture I’ve been privileged to experience and move through and be a part of. It would be a forum that centers freedom of expression, is built on real organic community, and celebrates life! And beyond the curation thing, was maybe even an element of dropping out of the public eye and into the public ear in a way that felt just as intimate. After a lifetime on stage, it was a way of staying close but also disappearing. I love the way radio leaves our eyes and bodies free. I love the way you can go deeper in with your ears when you shut your eyes.
But wakey wakey, eggs and bakey! This is not my fantasy world, that’s for sure. It doesn’t even hardly seem like the real world anymore, what with all of us now playing an unwitting part in a pandemic. All of us bound to the social compact of physical distancing, to lessen the spread of disease for the better good. Many of us out there in harm’s way and the rest of us isolated at home…. worrying and wondering what comes next. So, am I ready to launch righteous babe radio? No, definitely not. Nonetheless, for obvious reasons, now feels like the time. I want to do my part to accompany and inspire people who are self-isolating as I am, and I don’t want to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. The other shut-in righteous babes and I have decided to just set this thing in motion and develop it as we go. Is there a real live DJ at righteous babe radio? No… but we will be taking requests! Is it even a real radio signal? No… it streams over the internet, but why quibble?
At the onset, we will feature a heck of a lot of my work because this is not for profit radio, and, well… I’m the first volunteer! We will emphasize live music, bootlegs, even board tapes, just to keep things real and interesting. Also, you may find book excerpts, talks, interviews and other spoken word. And hopefully, more and more each day, you will hear a wider array of other artists and their sounds beginning to float through. We hope to expand our programming into a living, breathing embodiment of this righteous babe’s extended creative community. We hope it can become a place where the voices of many fellow travelers can intermingle and intersect… maybe discover each other. Though this forum won’t be directly monetized, with each album play, the artist, album and where-to-buy will be displayed and hopefully, some turned-on listener somewhere will be motivated to investigate an artist further or maybe even buy something from them. For touring musicians these days, as with so many of us, it goes without saying that every dollar counts!
Righteous babe radio will feature some previously unreleased live ani shows from the archives. Many of these will come straight off the board tapes and have not been edited/mixed at all. They are simply, As Is! These shows will air Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights at 9pm CDT and a new show will be added every week. Some live singles from these shows will be mixed into the daily broadcast too, including new and unreleased songs, so you never know when you’re going to hear something brand new. Before these live shows, at 8pm CDT, to really set the mood, we will feature an hour of music from the many wonderful artists whom I’ve had the privilege of sharing the stage with. We will also be featuring an interview series airing Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at Noon and again at 5pm CDT. You may hear something from my book tour or some more recent conversations where I interview other artists regarding their life in this Covid-19 world. I’ve been working away, editing podcast-type segments focused on the work and words of others. In addition to this featured programming, we will be adding more and more content as we move forward together to make this station as righteous and informative as it can be. Furthermore, one of the babes at RBR headquarters will be monitoring and attempting to honor all emailed song requests during business hours! What do you want to hear?
I hope righteous babe radio, rough and homegrown as it is, will help to keep your spirits up while we work together to defeat Covid-19. I wish you all well.