One Year

One year ago on June 1 2007, I, with Red Caliber, Edward Pearse and Mitsu Figaro launched Radio Riel. The last twelve months have been amazing. I am blessed beyond belief, and I thank the Universe for Radio Riel every day. A huge part of my thankfulness is for the people that the Universe brought to me - these amazing, intelligent, motivated, positive, and just plain COOL people!

So here we are - we just completed our first year. I remember having a conversation with Red Caliber about 6 months ago, during which he remarked about how much RR had grown in 6 months time. I told him that, as strange as it might seem, I was not shocked in the least about the growth and changes. It just all felt so *right*. Like everything was happening exactly as it was supposed to. We then joked about how different RR would be in another 6 months. He said he could not imagine it....and I said I totally could.

That is how this whole journey has been. It feels so natural to me, like this was always meant to happen. Oh believe me, it has not been easy. It has been the opposite of easy, but's right. And I know it is.

I have loved music all of my life. More than loved it - I have lived it. One of my college roommates used to say that living with me was like living with a permanent soundtrack to the movie of our lives. I inherited the music in my blood from my Dad, who passed away almost 2 years ago. The love of it, the encyclopedic knowledge of it. It's who he was, and it is who I am. The only "regret", or sadness, that I feel about Radio Riel is the fact that he never got to see me, with the help of my staff, do this. Oh he would have loved it! He likely would have become a Presenter himself and contributed to programming. He would have been beyond proud, and probably my toughest critic. :-)

I wanted to be a "DJ" in Second Life because I knew it was possible and it was something I thought I would enjoy. I have programmed music for events like parties, weddings and showers, and I have a lot of performance experience in theater, vocal performance, dance and playing music....but I had never actually DJd! I've spent the last 12 years speaking publicly in front of adults as an educator, a software trainer. I knew I could do it, but I had no idea how right it would be!

I think it's known that I came to SL with a wave of podcasters and podcast listeners just over two years ago. But I have not talked much about *why* I hooked into the "podcast movement". Podcasting was really my first taste of what is now called New Media. And I loved it! I loved hearing people, regular people, create the most intelligent and interesting content...and I really, really loved all of the independent musicians that were putting their music out there (copyright free) so the world could discover them. Thanks to the internet and technology, musicians can now play on a "world stage" and be heard by people who would have *never* heard them 15 years ago.

The podcasters lit a fire in me. I contemplated doing a podcast myself, but I never hit on what I considered a "good topic". I was able to meet some of my "podcast heroes" by meeting them in Second Life. Their enthusiasm rubbed off on me, and I started learning as much as I could about both SL and what they were doing.

Then the unexpected curveball: Caledon. All I wanted was a nice place to live with nice people. I did not go looking to become a "Duchess", I did not intend to be a community social planner...these things just happened along the way! The right people, the right place, the right time..and boom! I had already DJd a party in SL when I attended my first Caledon dance...and I just assumed that Caledon has people in it that played Classical music for the parties. Well...that was not the case. No one was doing it.

And then it hit me - the idea that thrilled the Teacher in me, as well as the music lover. I had tons of Classical music, and I knew a lot about it. *I* could play the music, and help create the illusion of being in the 19th Century. And so I just did it!

And in "just doing it"...I became a magnet - drawing people to me that share my love of music and that believe in the potential of this new frontier. The frontier is bloody..."old media" organizations are fighting a tough battle to put the genie back in the bottle and turn back the clock to when the airwaves were controlled by a select few. They will ultimately lose, technology and the internet has given the power to anyone...including a middle aged woman in Detroit who missed music and performance.

I have learned a lot...and I still have so much more to learn. I have made mistakes, but they have been small in the grand scheme of things. I have really stayed true to myself and my values with Radio Riel. I want to entertain, but I also want to educate. I want to introduce listeners to things they have never heard and delight them with the unknown. I want to create "environments of sound" to help clients achieve a setting, be it roleplay or just a bunch of friends having fun. I want to provide the soundtrack to the movies of peoples' real and second lives.

I speak often about being a "psychic DJ", but it really is true. I do not know how I do it, but I can somehow connect to someone's soul with music, and I am able to tell their story with it. And I love that - I want people to hear their history, hear *themselves* in the music. It is about shared experience. The people that work with me get that - that is why we work well together. It's not about being Prima Donnas, playing just to be center stage and have people listen to us.

Then are the down sides to all of this. The gossip and crap that gets back to me, about me, trickles in every once in awhile...and most of it I find absolutely hilarious. I hear about how "Gabi is doing x for y and z evil motives!"...and I laugh. No one, except for perhaps JJ Drinkwater, Saffia Widdershins and Zoe Connolly can truly understand how busy I am and how hard I work. I would *love* to have all sorts of evil plans...if I had time for them. ;-) All that gossip shows me is how other people think, and how they project their crap on to me. If you EVER have a question about me, my motives...ask me. Don't believe something you hear third hand! The only person who can give you the straight story on what I am doing is me. And guess what? I will tell you the blunt, honest truth...even if it is not pretty.

One other thing makes me...sad, I guess. And it's just indicative of how transient SL is by nature. But there are some people, people that I once considered friends...that make a habit of either actively ignoring what I do or openly slamming what I do. A year ago, I, and all of my plans were the best thing since sliced bread to some people. Their support, however, was fleeting..for whatever reason. Does it hurt? A bit, but things go in are the big new thing on the scene and everyone *loves* you...then as time moves on you become part of the background, the fabric...and the fawning adoration fades away. The fairweather types blow through...oh but those who hang on! They are the few....but so, so, so very precious.

So, to those of you that have hung on....THANK YOU! I know I do not say it enough, but I appreciate every single one of you that listens to Radio Riel and that hires Radio Riel. I want to keep giving you what you want and what makes you happy! And to my guys just humble me. You are all so damn smart and GOOD at what you do. I try and tell you that, but I don't think it's ever enough. I listen to your programs on Main and your gigs...and I am overcome with respect and gratitude. Gifted and talented - all of you! Thank you to my friends that still show active interest in this work - you help me keep going. And especially JJ Drinkwater...your constant love and support lifts me up - I *love* that you get me and what I am trying to do..and I *love* that you love me, in spite of the fact that I am imperfect, and make mistakes, and am a Diva. :-)

So kids - let's see what we can make happen in Year #2, shall we? I know it will be as amazing as Year #1, if not more so. It can't be anything else, as this was all meant to be.



Emilly Orr said…
I don't have the technology for it--even now, with the new machine up and running--but I get occasional thoughts about learning enough about SAM, amassing a musical library, and becoming at least a part-time presenter. I'm not there yet. In a year or so, a few years, I might be--and that also feels more like 'when the time is right' over 'impossible dream'.

I don't hear a lot of the bad stuph--side effect of my choices, I think, more than anything else, and being dismissed as small and cute--but I do hear a lot of the support. We now have a small and growing--and growing faster than I ever expected!--fan base. We not only have people I know listening in Caledon, we have people in SL in general tuning in, and we have people I've never met, outside of the game entirely, tuning in on occasion. That astounds me, makes me happy, and again--feels 'right'.

I do think part of the backlash, curiously, is the same thing that makes up part of our success--you want to be, we want to be, the soundtrack for Caledon. Not just for events and parties and dances--we want to be the parcel stream, something all the sims and all the shops and all the homes, if they wish, can turn to, to stay in character, stay on theme--that one additional step towards neo-Victorian seamlessness we just don't *find* anywhere else.

In the end, I think you're right, that's going to end up preserving us as a broadcasting station--that, whatever our private likes and dislikes on styles of music may be, we are all, hosts and presenters alike, committed to preserving vintage music and hearing it aired.

And there's far too few of us in any world doing that. More power to anyone who wants to honor the past, not pave it over.
AZL said…
Without my journey
and without the spring,
I would have missed this dawn.
- Shiki

More journeys and more springs
await she who is mindful of them
Serra Anansi said…
Knowing and seeing what is right in your life and then having the courage to follow the path it presents us with... making your way through the obstacles and surviving the heartbreaks and learning from the mistakes and getting back up when someone tries to keep you down… that is what separates the everyday people from the extraordinary people.

raises her glass To you, Gabi, one of the extraordinary people!
Elrik Merlin said…
All very well said, Gabi, and I am proud to be a member of the team. Whether I am presenting a daily programme on the Main stream or at a gig, I always enjoy it: crafting the playlist, recording trailers and idents, whatever.

Enjoyment is an important part of the mix for me, whether I am playing a programme of music from Shakespeare's time, contemporary rock, pop and dance at a party, or trying to recreate the style of an old-fashioned BBC-style Historic Event commentary like the opening of the Great Exhibition or anniversary fireworks over Middlesea. I also feel that as well as having fun, I am a part of something important.

I remember an early ident I did for the station in which I used the phrase that Em used, "the soundtrack for Caledon". I didn't like it, and I realised the reason I didn't like it: it was too limiting. Yes, we provide a soundtrack for Caledon. But we provide so much more.

Today's programme from Soliel is the soundtrack to my work in my RL office as I read this, for example. Friends of mine as far away as the Philippines, who have nothing to do with SL, let alone Caledon, send me comments on the programmes on a regular basis. We already go beyond, and we will do more so in the future I am sure.

Honouring the musical past, as Em notes, is certainly a part of it. In addition, I see us following in the tradition of Lord Reith and the original goal of the BBC: to inform, educate and entertain. We're trying to take the best of the ethos of quality Public Service Broadcasting into SL in general and Caledon in particular, but we are doing, and are capable of doing, a great deal more.

No-one knows what the future may bring but I hope to be involved in this Great Work for a good while yet, and I wish Gabi and the rest of us great success for the future.