The Weekly Feed is over. Start doling out all of the food metaphors about scraps at the table, stick a fork in it, et cetera, et cetera. While I don’t mean to make light of its demise, others seem to be bothered by it much more than me. It’s not that ending it doesn’t resonate with me, six years is a long time to do anything every single week, but I’ve never been too big a fan of nostalgia and when it’s time to wrap something up, it also means it’s time to move on. Go to the next thing. About that…
How do you like the title The Speed of Sound? That’s what I’m calling my next series (cribbed from the Pearl Jam song, not Coldplay, though for some of you, that will make little difference, as you can’t stand either band). In a way, The Speed of Sound is the child of The Weekly Feed. When you’re syndicating a show, the question you get more than any other from radio stations that you’re pitching it to is, “Yeah, but what’s so special about it that I couldn’t do it myself?” I wanted to reply, “Well, for starters, you’re not,” but I never felt like that was going to win the argument outright. So I started doing interviews with the idea being that if I could get enough big artists to talk to me, I could talk smaller market radio stations into picking the show up due to the fact that they didn’t have them. It’s hard to say how much of the show’s success that accounted for, but it became the centerpiece just the same.
How often do you watch or listen to an interview? Some folks don’t care. They’re happy enough with the music, the occasional live show, and let that be that. But for us obsessives, interviews are a way into the minds of our gods. They give the peek behind the curtain, a way to feel the music even more. All of those nights sitting by yourself with your headphones on, listening to the sound of the room the song was recorded in, we use what we learned in the interview to add all the extra colors of that room that we couldn’t imagine before.
That’s one of the main reasons I’m surprised at how many bad interviews there are. Watch enough and you can quickly peg the ones who’ve never done any research, ones who were only concerned about being seen next to someone famous, or ones that are more concerned about themselves than who they’re talking to. I won’t sit here and boast to be one of the world’s greatest interviewers. I have my idols, and I know what I’m not. But when I started out, especially seeing all of the bad ones, I promised that as long as I could offer a conversation good enough to not waste the artist’s time, then I was on the right track.
Do enough of anything and you’ll start to develop your own style. I quickly learned that I didn’t need to ask the question that had never been asked. That’s next to impossible. But if I ask it in a way that’s conversational and keep my ears open for the right words, I could take the answer and go somewhere the artist hadn’t had a chance to before. That’s when you get to the good stuff, like religion and faith, sex and addictions, politics and preferences. Basically all of the things you’re not suppose to talk about at a party. That’s the gold.
So, when I wipe away The Weekly Feed, brush away the new music mixtape aspect, what’s left are the great conversations from both the audience and the artist. And that’s where my interest is. How far can I take it? What new shine can I give it? Can I do something that’s relevant years afterward? That’s what all artists ask, right? That’s what we have to strive for. Sometimes we hit the mark; sometimes we blame it on a sophomore slump curse.
What I promise is to never ask where the band got its name, who are their major influences or what food they would compare their music to. And it’ll be presented in a full, Technicolor montage of sound. The Speed of Sound. Coming soon to a radio box near you. •
Kyle Meredith is the music director of WFPK and host of the nationally syndicated “The Weekly Feed.” Hunting bears was never his strong point.