KVMR’s ‘High Priestess’ of podcasting scores Bill Nye coup | TheUnion.com

KVMR’s ‘High Priestess’ of podcasting scores Bill Nye coup

Steve Baker
Special to Prospector

Meri St. Mary, the "High Priestess of Podcasting," recently interviewed Bill Nye after the Nevada City Film Festival premiere of "Bill Nye: Science Guy."

You see, it sort of comes with the late night territory.

A lot of people turn in early on Sunday nights and miss Meri St. Mary's The Underground Sound (alternate Sundays, 10 p.m. to midnight, 89.5 FM, kvmr.org streaming) on KVMR.

But her appeal goes far beyond KVMR's terrestrial signal and live streaming.

So she came up with this idea of podcasting her interviews, way back in 2010, with then-station webmaster John Button in tow.

And the rest is KVMR social media history, where she's already won the Nevada City radio station's special "High Priestess of Podcasting" special award, among others.

You see, Meri is the station's resident punk diva, someone who was in the middle of the new wave and punk scenes in both, yeah, both Los Angeles and San Francisco back in the day.

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That gives her a rolodex, er, 21st century cell phone full of contacts and friends and potential guests for her show.

"Yeah, I've been part of the punk movement for like 35 years or so," said Mary. "My interviews, well, these are people who have a 20 or 30 or more year body of work. There's never a dull moment. They've got lots to say."

Celebrity in town

Most recently, it actually wasn't a punk, but a sort of science nerd who not only appeared in a taped interview on her show but was the Nevada City Film Festival celebrity in town.

An old friend and executive producer of the documentary "Bill Nye: Science Guy," Henry Rosenthal, contacted Mary to say they'd be here for the Festival, with the film opening in 20 cities next month.

In between Festival screenings, Mary sneaked Bill Nye himself over to KVMR's studios for a nearly 40 minute interview … raucous, wild, infectious, unfettered and alive. Yet when he talked about his diet, when he talked about his parents and their roles in World War II and when he tied bow ties for all the volunteer male waiters at a women's athletic dinner … and got the girl he was eying to talk to him, well, it was especially sweet.

"I fall in love with whoever I'm interviewing," said Mary. "But when it's over, it's over."

Awww.

Of course, you missed it last Sunday. But you can still hear it, whenever you want.

That's the beauty of podcasts, notes Mary, and particularly this one of Nye.

"Bill Nye was a major influence on my son, now 31, and to see this complete view of his life was worth it," said Mary. "He was smart, gracious and … lovely."

So, yes, you can hear it, even when Nye notes, "I'm an engineer and an actor, I've never said I'm a scientist."

It's on KVMR's ongoing archives from 10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 17 — archive.kvmr.org — and should make its way onto downloadable podcasts this week as well. You'll find podcasts on KVMR's main menu at kvmr.org

And who knows just how many wannabe listeners will go to the kvmr.org archives and podcasts for downloads?

But ten grand of them — over 10,500, to be exact — came to KVMR to hear the German "Kraut Rock" Faust band survivors Jean and Zappi after Mary and KVMR Music Director Sean Dooley-Miller barreled down to catch a rare 2016 performance and she did an interview that Faust, well, just normally just don't do.

Weird dive, Faust fanatics

"They were in a weird dive, my kind of place," Mary said with a smile. "Half the crowd were insane Faust fanatics, and half the crowd were just there to drink."

"They (Faust) rarely play, they don't do interviews," said Mary. "They're my favorite sort of avant garde and surrealism."

"I like being in the right place at the right time, and you just get to roll with it."

Other popular webcasts — still available through Mary or the show The Underground Sound on kvmr.org — include Lydia Lunch, John Doe, David Thomas of Pere Ubu, the band Blue Cheer, Keith Levene of PiL and, yeah, many others. Some have topped the 5,000 mark.

Okay, some of them aren't everyday names. But they have strong followings online. The numbers at http://www.kvmr.org/show/underground-sound don't lie.

"I have many famous friends, meaning they're famous in the cult sense," said Mary. "But cult people have built a way to connect with one another through social media. That's where these astounding numbers are coming from …"

Hey, she's not a high priestess for nothing.

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.