‘Have we got a story for you’: ‘The Moth Radio Series’ comes to KVMR Sundays
December 1, 2016
Legend has it "The Moth" started on a small-Georgia back porch, but reality has it that it's grown into the Peabody-award winning "The Moth Radio Show" and has spawned a cottage industry of related storytelling activities and events.
Not bad for a Public Radio Exchange (PRX) weekly radio program with some 400 affiliates.
Er, make that 401, as "The Moth Radio Show" makes its local debut this Sunday 8 p.m. on KVMR (89.5 FM, kvmr.org streaming) and finally is broadcast in the Sacramento metro area.
"This will be an anchor among our spoken word and variety programming on Sunday nights," says KVMR Program Director Steve Baker. "PRX tells me The Moth celebrates the ability of stories to honor both the diversity and commonality of human experience, and to satisfy a vital human need for connection."
"In divided and angry times like these, it may be a vocal, mesmerizing bridge between people."
That back porch beginning took place where The Moth's founder –poet and best-selling novelist George Dawes Green — would spend sultry summer evenings swapping spellbinding tales with a small circle of friends.
It's said there was a hole in the porch screen, letting in moths that were attracted to the light, prompting the group to call themselves "The Moths."
When Dawes Green moved to New York City, he wanted to recreate the feeling of those nights in his adopted city.
From the first event in his New York living room, word spread fast, and the events soon moved to cafes and clubs — and soon to popular venues throughout the country and beyond.
The stories aren't made up, they're "true stories told live," according to show producers.
Storytellers stand alone, under a spotlight, with only a microphone and a roomful of strangers, and take the audience on a high-wire act of shared experience which can be both terrifying and exhilarating.
At the various "Moth" story slams, a cello player serves as timer, making an increasing amount of noise if contestants run long.
The storytelling caught the ear of one of public radio's leading independent producers, became a series of radio specials and went weekly in January 2013.
Jay Allison — who produces the radio version along with members of The Moth — has won the Edward Murrow award for lifetime creative achievement in public radio as well as five Peabody Awards for his work on various shows and projects, including "This American Life" and "This I Believe," as well as "The Moth."
Oh, and the first Moth local connection:
Allison's sister, Ginna, taught radio production workshops at KVMR when she lived locally here in the early 1990s.
This Sunday night's episode features:
–Dan Kennedy, a squeamish writer, decides to "live in the moment" is sent on assignment to locate enormous poisonous snakes.
–Dori Samadzai and her little brother are smuggled out of Afghanistan and arrive in America without their parents.
–Author/humorist and Motel 6 ad icon Tom Bodett talks about his hippie times seeking the approval of his conservative father.
Two public radio icons have given the series a major thumbs up.
"You have something very, very valuable…the irresistible power of story," said Garrison Keillor of A Prairie Home Companion. "I think it's the next big huge hit in public radio."
"I was going to say this is public radio's next huge hit, but i guess Garrison Keillor beat me to it," quipped This American Life host Ira Glass.
Old Radio now 7 p.m. Sundays
To accommodate The Moth, Old Radio Theater will now air every other Sunday at 7 p.m. and alternate with the music variety/environmental series eTown at that hour.
Old Radio is a long-running sampling of shows and airchecks from radio's golden days, curated by David and Linda Breninger.
On The Air is a weekly irreverent look at Nevada City's volunteer-driven, eclectic community radio station at 89.5 FM and streaming at kvmr.org. Complete KVMR schedule available at the station's website, http://www.kvmr.org The station now features an easy-to-use archive of all music shows for two weeks and talk shows for two months at archive.kvmr.org