For all but a dwindling few alive at the time, December 7th may easily conjure up remembrances of a long ago "infamous" time in US history. As one interested in history, I have read about that time often. However, December 7th also has a secondary meaning for me. It was on that day, in 2013, my first article as a contributor to Audiophile Review (AR) was published.
In September 2013, AR Editor Steven Stone got word to me that he wished to talk and left me a phone number. I called, told him who I was and he replied, quite hurriedly I might add, "I can't talk right now I'm in the middle of a forest fire. Call me back at 5:00." Click. And he was gone. I looked at the phone in my hand thinking did he really hang up on me?
To be fair, there was a major forest fire going on at the time in Colorado. Steven served as a radio base station transmitting fire relevant messages to firefighters whose communications gear was out of range. That day passed rather slowly and at 5:00 Colorado time, I called back. This time Steven was much calmer. After explaining his earlier actions, he asked the question I had been wondering all day myself. I" I suppose you're wondering why I called?" Well, yeah, sort-a. "I was wondering if you would be interested in being a contributor to AR?" Do what? I was wondering how one of my friends could have pulled off the ultimate prank. Because I could not see any justifiable reason why Steven Stone would be asking me this question.
He explained that he had read some things I had written, liked the way I wrote and thought my writing style was balanced. He thought I had something to offer to what AR was trying to accomplish. When I asked what exactly I would write about, he replied "anything you want." "But that doesn't really answer the question" was my reply. He explained that I would write about the audiophile hobby in general, including my experiences, current events in the industry and do music reviews. Because it was mid-September and I was going to RMAF in early October, we agreed to continue the conversation in Denver in a few weeks. At breakfast on Saturday morning at the 2013 RMAF, I agreed to become a contributor to AR. Originally, my work was supposed to run on Saturdays. After only a few weeks, I was moved to my now familiar Friday spot. It is where I've been ever since.
When I returned home from Denver that year, I wondered what on Earth I had gotten myself into. I could not see how it would be remotely possibly for me to come up with enough material to last six months. When I raised my concern with Steven, he laughed and told me all writers have that fear. He told me not to worry, ideas would come. He was right.
I keep a list of ideas for future articles. Currently, I have enough for almost a year of weekly articles. Not all of them are relevant anymore and some may not be very good, but who knows, maybe they may lead to something that is relevant and more interesting. Ideas come at strange times - driving down the road or in the middle of the night. Those are the most difficult. I cannot count how many times I have awakened at 3:00 AM and reluctantly gone downstairs to my office to put into the computer the article writing itself in my head. Not doing so ensures that by morning, I will have completely forgotten what the idea was. That has happened numerous times. I also read and re-read articles before submission. By the time I send something to Steven, I've probably read it thirty to fifty times to be sure every word is exactly to my liking.
One thing a web-based publication offers is public comments by the readership. This is both good and bad. I have learned over the years to have thick skin. My favorite comments, not surprisingly, are ones in agreement with me and best of all, offer praise. I always answer those. I also appreciate the comments that disagree with me and offer a reasonable, constructive opinion why. Anyone who cannot take constructive criticism should not make public comments. I also enjoy replying to such comments. More than once I have learned something new from intelligent rebuttals to something I have written.
Worst of all are the comments that are vulgar, profane, insulting, demeaning and offer nothing that resembles a debatable issue. I have been told in the comment section more than once things like "you're an idiot, there's no way you could have heard that. It's not possible." Really? And you know that how, exactly? I find comments such as those not worthy of my attention or a response. I was once told I was "nothing but a f-ing (and he spelled it out) lackey for the cable industry cabal." He went on to say I was basically on the payroll of the cable industry. I have to admit, the absurdity of that one actually made me laugh. I find it interesting how anyone posting a comment filled with rudeness and vulgarity can ever be expected to be taken seriously. It took me a while, but I've learned to simply ignore them.
Music reviews are something I've done since day one. What I do is far different from the excellent work and the encyclopedic knowledge about the music industry that my fellow AR contributor Mark Smotroff does. But every so often, I will get a box of CD's in for review. After listening to them all, I write a short paragraph about six of them, include a link so an interested reader can hear some samples of the work, and hopefully present some new music that might otherwise not be known. I've found a surprising amount of new music myself that made it into my permanent library.
Five years today. That is somehow hard for me to believe. Despite being overtly obvious, I do appreciate all those who read my work each Friday. And yes, I suppose I even appreciate the ones who read my work and leave vulgar comments. As much as anything, my affiliation with AR is another method for me to enjoy the audiophile hobby. Doing research for articles has enabled me to learn new things. I'd like to think, like to hope actually, I've even improved my writing skills over the years. And more than anything, I hope the readership enjoys, or finds some relevance in what I have to say.
I'd also like to thank Steven Stone and our Publisher, Jerry Del Colliano for asking me to join AR and keeping me around for five years. Who knows, maybe I have more than six months of new material about which I can write.
Happy Listening Everyone.