Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, my friend Sarah Oliver and I flew down from NPR in Washington, DC to report on what was left of New Orleans.
I had particular knowledge of the city because it’s my hometown. And after many years in Washington, my home ties were intact. My house was here, my dentist, my favorite restaurant, my favorite, well, everything. Except THEN, of course, because nothing was here.
Among the people we interviewed were my neighbors, Elmo and Gilda Dix. For as long as I could remember they lived in the big orange house in Pontchartrain Park on the corner of Press Drive and Mithra Street. Mr. Dix is an electrician and he and his friends built most of the house themselves. For the price of a bowl of gumbo, fried chicken, potato salad and whatever else Miss Gilda would make, the workmen laid tile and bricks and hung sheet rock and screens.
“My house didn’t cost a lot of money,” Mr. Dix said. “It was built on favors.”
That wasn’t unusual. When his friends built their houses, Mr. Dix did their electrical work for a bowl of red beans and rice and whatever else was on the stove.
I’ve never forgotten that conversation with Mr. Dix because favors are often the best and most lasting form of commerce. They’re made of goodwill and that beats a dollar any day. Music Inside Out has been built, in large part, on favors. The money has always been tight. So the people who make the show not only possible, but BEAUTIFUL each week, have done so simply because they wanted to.
Lynette Johnson has persuaded most all of our guests to appear on the program. She’s also a co-creator of Music Inside Out and a heck of a drummer.
Seán Collins lives in St. Louis and designed this extraordinary website. He’s also produced a number of programs and created our first press release. He’s the sly wit behind Music Inside Out in social media. I can’t even say “Hello” in 140 characters.
Jason Rhein brought Elephant Quilt Studio into our lives. He’s engineered and produced most of the programs, which stand among the finest in all of public radio.
Rick G. Nelson has also engineered and produced some of our best guest interviews and some of the shows as well. We call him, “The Governor.”
Graphic artist Adam Newman designed our pretty new logo and is responsible for the look of our terrific ad campaign around New Orleans. We call him, “Adam.”
Margaret Howze is a first-rate producer who knows more about music than any of us. I knew her in Washington, but we didn’t work together until we both landed here. I’m so glad she produces when her schedule permits. Working with Margaret is like stepping into a whirlwind of creativity.
There are plenty more people who’ve sent goodwill our way, including, Paul Maassen (general manager of WWNO), Ron Biava (WWNO’s development and marketing manager), Jenni Lawson (WWNO engineering) Thomas Walsh (WWNO engineering), Jeffrey Dvorkin (CIUT-Toronto), Karl Fontenot (KRVS-Lafayette), the ever able Alexis Annis, (transcripts), Jason Saul (who keeps the WWNO website so nice!), Gregg Goldman (photography), Zack Smith (photography), Marge Ostroushko (public radio diplomacy), Lily Keber (booking) and the lovely and talented Valerie Robinson (public relations).
Together we’ve built something great. And more importantly, we’re making a contribution to the world’s appreciation of the music and musicians of Louisiana.
Gwen Thompkins is the host of Music Inside Out.