Parental AdvisoryEverything was business as usual last Friday morning. I had an early morning conference call with one of our vendors and had a few pieces of paperwork to take care as well as a check to deposit, but Glen stopped me a few steps into my morning pass-through with an abrupt question.

“What are you guys doing online with that new show? Someone called in to a talk-radio program this morning complaining about you and some other guy talking about drugs and drinking?”


I wasn’t expecting this breakfast accusation and in a flutter I was trying to decode his “joking” criticism. It was awkward too as he tried to explain the details he had heard secondhand about how a local someone called into 92.7 WFHG early that morning and complained about our obscure niche podcast – “Buzzcutz.” Someone was upset about the “language” on our program and felt it important to rise above California wild fires, the war with Iraq and even Brittany Spears (Leave Britney Alone!) to complain about our little show.

My first reaction was surprise. I imagined a few people listen to those radio programs in the morning, but I am just not familiar with the talk radio format supported by this local radio station. I used to listen to “AM” when I had a transistor radio, but I wasn’t aware of what they are up to over the past two decades. Evidently they solicit opinions and phone calls from around the region and someone got annoyed about the conversations on GoTriCities new “Buzzcutz” music podcast – now taping its fourth show at our media company with GoTriCities.

In my stuttered oblivion I questioned what kind of person would be so offended at such a casual comment – especially on the Internet – well known for its open door policy to all forms of information? I’ve been watching the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report and those guys regularly make comical references to drugs and alcohol on a regular basis (jokingly) on national television. Maybe I’m desensitized to video moments with Colbert turning up a bottle of pain killers on his nightly show. Perhaps I’m missing out on the morality policy on the Internet. I’m still scratching my head.

What I do know is that we’re a bunch of amateur musicians who live our life here in the music scene on the Tri-Cities and we started our podcast to talk about the bands, the music and the venues here in Northeast Tennessee. We talk and sometimes, you might hear a word you won’t like. Sorry. Don’t listen.

Buzzcutz is a round-robin program where different people from different perspectives gather to exchange ideas and opinions. We even started to interview some of the local artists last week and we had a great show.

We’re still having some problems and in many ways it’s a work in progress. The audio sucked on this last podcast, we’re having troubles with a hum, low volumes and like most small businesses, we’re spending way more time than we should with no advertising support yet (a music store sponsor begins soon). We’re planning to build audience time after time with something unscripted, original and street-level. We’re all musicians and players and we’re sharing our opinions, ideas and color right from the hallowed grounds here in the mountains.

We’re extremely fortunate too and I might even use the words we’re “fucking” fortunate to have some of the most talented and experienced musicians in the Tri-Cities region meeting together each week to record a program targeted towards fans and performers of live music in the Tri-Cities region. This area is home to both incredible talent and larger-than-live personalities and that’s what we hope to expose in our weekly chat.

The word “fucking” recently came to light when Bono accepted a 2003 Golden Globe Award. When he stepped up to the stage, he uttered in excitement, “This is really, really, fucking brilliant.” Evidently, the censors didn’t catch the word and it started a fury of discussions about swear words on TV again.

Trumping his new book, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window Into Human Nature,” Harvard professor and author, Steven Pinker, suggests in a recent article for The New Republic that the word “fucking” used in the previous sentence as an adverb means something different used in this specific context and sometimes very few words describe extreme excitement as well. The words really, really or very, very, very just don’t hold the same fucking clout.

I imagine by now that I’ve offended a number of people – anyone at least who has made it this far into my personal rant on this issue. I’m sorry. I’m imperfect and I use cuss words in moments of great excitement and sudden accidents.

Nevertheless, it’s “very” exciting for me to work with Jared Bentley and Tom Bettini on this unique experiment and as the director of operations for our New Media enterprise, I’ve approached this project with the attitude that people will create their own personalities and what we have to produce will self-correct itself. There have been a few moments where I recognize the conversations are a bit risky for radio, but this ain’t radio. I’m not aware of any FCC jurisdiction and the only thing we may be missing is courtesy.

The Internet has given everyone the ability to publish, but it’s still hard to be a publisher. We’re not claiming to be a newspaper, a radio or a television station. Instead, we’re just passionate artists who enjoy talking about our participation in this regional music culture and sharing that experience with our friends and thus “Buzzcutz” was born. We’ll record Episode 4 this week.

Obviously, we’re going to shape our programming to the best of our ability. I’m sure over time, things we’ll calm down as we start to redefine this effort, but for the moment, it brings up some interesting questions.

Should we crop out and delete our spoken words? If we do then should we bleep the artists music we are discussing too?

Our guests on Buzzcutz are candid. They have no interests other than talking about our shared interest in the Tri-Cities music scene and getting together for a fireside chat with each other every week. You can listen if you like, but you might hear something you don’t appreciate. Maybe a “Parental Advisory” is appropriate. My friends laugh that it might create more listeners – who knows? What do they say about bad press now? Is there such a thing?

Traditional radio has a lot to consider as podcasting and other forms of recorded media continue to surf to the forefront of broad band connections. We’re watching corny videos on You Tube with people cussing into the camera and crazy stunts that beg you to tell somebody else and here we are in Kingsport worry about the way someone said “Fuck” or “Shit” on an Internet podcast.

I’ll repeat myself. This is not radio and this is not newspaper or television. It’s a new frontier and one of my favorite lines is the defination of the pioneer state, a pioneer is someone with arrows in their back.

Now I can bend on this topic. My only concern is to be genuine and if that means letting people express their opinion, I can live with that.