When Randall first approached me about writing an article on E-Sam about RedHawk Radio, the first thing that popped in my head was, "Why not? I can use the shameless self-promotion." So lets get that out of the way here and now. Go listen to http://www.redhawkradio.net right now. I don't care if a show is on or not. At least tune in while you read this.
RedHawk Radio began broadcasting July 5, 2001 with the song "It's The End Of The World As We Know It" by REM. I originally created the station simply so I could upload my MP3 folder to Live365 and listen to music I liked at work without having to burn a bunch of CDs. After some five thousand dollars spent on equipment, computers, parts, advertising, server rental, and RIAA fees later, I have to smile that RedHawk started because I wanted to save a few bucks on CD-R's. It probably would have stayed a glorified MP3 player except I noticed that I wasn't the only one listening to the station. That shocked me really, so I wanted to see if I could make a decent radio station out of this collection. Nothing fancy, just something for fun. I tried hosting a weekly news show and a weekly music show, both of which flopped because I lacked a listener base and because, frankly, I sucked.
I had to get some outside talent to make an attempt at putting a good show on RedHawk Radio a reality. In November of 2001, I approached Forest Evergreen and Og about putting together a show to run on the station. This may seem like no big deal, but at the time, I was still overawed by Forest and Og, and their agreement to help honestly kept me from shutting down the station in those early days. We met a few times to work out some details, and finally in the dining room of my new apartment, with a grand total of two mics and one computer, the first Forest and Og show was taped. The sound quality was bad, only two people could be on mic at a time, we had no idea how to broadcast live, and it was wonderful. The content of those first couple of shows is still pretty damn funny, and one of our recurring bits is still based off a fake news story Og read two years ago.
Things really started moving quickly from there. The Forest and Og show was working okay, but Forest wanted to be a bit more serious and put together a quality show. Taldak had started helping on the show about 3 months in, and he and Og started That Damn Show (dedicated to dick and fart jokes and porn), while Forest and I worked on The Forest Evergreen show (an early version of the Shallow End). That Damn Show became the first satellite show for the station (i.e., it was done at someone else's house instead of mine) and although very funny was plagued with computer issues, schedule problems with the hosts, and worst of all a lack of listeners. Taldak and Og fell by the wayside with the station, mostly because I didn't have time to help them fix the problems they were having. I was new to this Program Director gig, and dropped the ball with them. To this day, it's the only major regret I have with how I have run the station, and wish I could have changed it.
About June or July of 2002, Forest and I talked about the direction we wanted to go with the show. Our audience at that time was 100% Amtgarders, and we wanted to cater to them, and at the same time we wanted to do a humorous look a the world and the stupidity that is day to day life. In the end, two shows were created, Radio Free Amtgard and The Shallow End. Two nights a week, we were on the air reporting idiocy in the real world, followed by problems in Amtgard. Forest and I enjoyed doing two shows but real life prevented it for being possible. We scaled back to just Radio Free Amtgard.
Radio Free Amtgard has been the most enjoyable portion of RedHawk Radio for me personally. We've talked with people from all over the Amtworld, hit major topics of the day, done remotes from different kingdom events, and helped take the mystery out of parts of the Amtworld. As an Emerald Hillser, I knew next to nothing about other kingdoms before starting this show, and really nothing about Mystic Seas and VSR. The shows have taught me a lot about Amtgard in places other then my neck of the woods, and every week I learn a little more.
Technologically speaking, we have grown quite a bit from those early days as well. For nearly nine months we broadcasted with two microphones taped to a floor lamp with the gain on the mics turned all the way up. That picked up all of the sounds in the room, including the creaking chairs and the sounds of my two cats meowing in another room. Today, it's a soundboard with XLR mics and mic stands, but it's hard to get overly pretentious remembering the humble beginnings.
That's about it on where we came from. I guess the only real question left is what comes next? We are always looking for new shows and new music to play. If you think you want to try and create a weekly show for RedHawk Radio drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com . All it takes is a broadband connection, a microphone, and an idea of what you want to do.
Was it worth all the effort? The couple of grand I have sunk into the process? Yeah, it was. I gained a great friend and partner in crime in Forest Evergreen. Every memory makes it worthwhile, from Sparhawk zapping himself in the nuts on the way to a show, to Looooooooooooooooooooooooord Peter, or the listeners throwing down over 400 bucks in three weeks to keep us on the air when we got screwed by Live365. Thinking back on half the shit we have pulled on (and sometimes off) the air always makes me smile. Thank you for the last 2 ½ years. I look forward to sharing the next few years with my listeners. See you all Wednesday night 7-9pm CST.
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