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Folk Alley: On the Road Again
WKSU's Folk Alley Express provides Web and broadcast audio production support to folk music on the beaten path.
My first exposure to PPM was in the mid-1960s. No, not the Arbitron Portable People Meter (PPM) technology currently used to measure radio audience participation, but the now-well-known folk music group Peter, Paul and Mary. Little did I know then that I would eventually be working with FolkAlley.com, the world's most listened to folk music site with more than 102,000 registered listeners who collectively represent nearly every country around the globe.
The creator of FolkAlley.com, soon to enter its seventh year of operation, is WKSU-FM's Executive Director and General Manager Allen Bartholet. As I write this, Bartholet, his crew and the Folk Alley Express (motor coach) just returned from the Newport (Rhode Island) Folk Festival. They spent the weekend there providing Web and broadcast audio production support to NPR Music, WFUV and local outlets. The Folk Alley Express experienced its maiden voyage in August 2009 when it first attended the Newport Folk Festival. Its most recent journey prior to this year's Newport event was to the Austin and Dallas, TX, areas to attend folk music festivals.
The Folk Alley Express idea came about when a fan, who felt that Folk Alley needed to be more visible in the community, provided a generous $150,000 gift to obtain a motor coach and subsequently install a recording and production studio in the vehicle. The purpose of the Folk Alley Express is to provide a promotional tool for Folk Alley and to record the best folk music performances throughout the country for webcast at www.folkalley.com and for broadcast over Folk Alley affiliate stations.
The project begins
Early in the project we realized a standard motor coach floor plan was not practical for our application: The motors for the slide outs were at floor level - at least in every model we researched. That eliminated the possibility of stripping a bedroom for conversion into a studio. An alert motor coach salesman realized our dilemma and suggested we consider a toy-hauler-type motor coach - the type with a garage in the back for hauling a motorcycle, ATV or golf cart. That was the answer! The brand new unit we acquired is a 37' long by nearly 13' high Damon Outlaw Model 3611. The interior includes an 8' wide by 10' deep by 6.5' tall garage, a queen-size loft bedroom located above the garage, a rear full-size drop down tailgate, plus all the other appointed comforts of home.
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