For as long as I’ve been writing these features, Kim Simpson is the guy who makes them actually show up at the KOOP website. And he does much more for our radio station and beyond. We spoke on May 16.
Michael A. Brown: Take us through your history with KOOP … what sorts of things have you been involved with?
Kim Simpson: I had been a listener way back when KOOP first started and thought it might be cool to get involved. But it wasn’t until 2008 when a friend was going to be a guest on a show called The Swinger, and he asked me to join him. So I did and I liked it and wanted to do more. I apprenticed on a show called Cavity Time and also the Swinger and soon tried out a show called Open Borders, a “no language barrier” approach to music programming.
MAB: You now host the International Folk Bazaar. Tell us about the show.
KS: As long as I’ve been a listener of community radio, way back as a teenager, I wanted to do a show I thought of in terms of “global roots” … music with a more acoustic, earthier approach to world music. I guess that fondness started as a kid when my mother played Finnish folk records from her homeland. Now, on the International Folk Bazaar, I play music from everywhere that has an unplugged, ethnic feel to it.
MAB: You also write and perform music and have provided commentary for the BBC. Do you view those as distinct from your KOOP activities or complementary?
KS: Definitely complementary, because like so many of us at KOOP, I have different musical interests. It was my book “Early ‘70s Radio” that led to my appearance on the BBC for a show about “yacht rock,” the recent pet name for 70s and 80s “adult contemporary.”
MAB: How have KOOP’s shows evolved over the years?
KS: Some music shows have gotten more experimental and others have held steady, with each approach having good reason. Some listeners like complete unpredictability while others like looseness within a format, kind of like the FM rock radio of yesteryear. News and public affairs shows also have evolved, of course, keeping alive the spirit of community activism. I’d like to hear even more of that.
MAB: You handle the show postings and other content at the KOOP website … what are the best practices for getting stuff posted at the website, and is there anything that KOOPers ought to avoid?
KS: It depends on the nature of the post. For feature stories, more content usually is better than less. But for posts such as show previews and promos, brevity tends to work best.
MAB: What new and different things might we see at the website in coming months?
KS: Programmers and listeners are always craving more interactive content at the website, so our web team has been really conscious of that and exploring ways to make the station even more accessible in terms of listener response.
MAB: What do you perceive as wishful thinking versus what’s realistic for KOOP over the next couple years?
KS: Wishful thinking, or less realistic thinking, might be, for example, expecting KOOP to move in a non-democratic way … to be less cooperative and collaborative than we have been. Our station tends to make changes slower than other stations might because we have a lot of people involved. But that’s one of our virtues … we are a people-powered station. Also unrealistic for us is any development of commercial radio-style broadcasting … a more tightly-programmed sound. At KOOP, we don’t have a program director, so the notion of any uniform music philosophy determining what the station is supposed to sound like is never going to fly. More realistic is for all of us to get great at doing what we do … plus more active involvement with our listeners and our community.
You can hear the International Folk Bazaar with Kim Simpson every Wednesday at noon. In Austin, tune to 91.7 FM. Worldwide at KOOP.org
Interview by Michael A. Brown