Fans of good authors and good writing are cheering the return of the KOOP show Writing On the Air, with host Mindy Reed.
Michael A. Brown: How did Writing On the Air come back on the air after being away for a while?
Mindy Reed: Two KOOP friends, DJ Harris and Rush Evans, have been encouraging me to join KOOP for some time. DJ and I are both retired from Austin Public Library. I know Writing on the Air was a popular show, and it is an honor to bring it back and celebrate local authors and organizations.
MAB: Please tell us about your own writing background and experience.
MR: In 1996, I founded the Authors’ Assistant to help writers prepare their manuscripts for publications. I have 30+ years’ experience in editing and publishing both traditionally and independently. In 2019, in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock, my novel, This Is the Dawning: a Woodstock Love Story, was published. Rush Evans wrote the Afterword on Richie Havens. I also have a collection of stories published, Women of a Certain Age: Short Stories of the Twentieth Century.
MAB: You’ve also taught at Austin Community College and been an Austin Public Librarian. How do those organizations go about developing and nurturing writers nowadays?
MR: As an ACC college instructor, I taught The Fundamentals of Digital Publishing. Since the mid-1990s, the publishing industry has gone through vast changes, especially with regard to book formats (print, e-books, and audio) and distribution. When I first moved to Austin in 1983, I participated in a journal writing group called Writing from the Heart. APL continues to host writing groups, critique groups, and book discussion groups. To be an accomplished author requires being an avid reader.
MAB: How do you select your guests and prepare for your shows?
MR: My main focus is local authors and literature-related organizations. Austin is known as the Live Music Capital, but it also has a rich and varied writing community, including fiction, memoirs, history, and poetry. I have been an active member of The Writers’ League of Texas, various writing groups, and a presenter at both the American Library Association and the Texas Library Association. This has given me great access to various writers. Preparation is key for a successful interview show. I get to know as much as I can about the writers, their works, and their process. I read or listen to other interviews they may have given so I can ask different questions and get to know them in a new way.
MAB: Tell us about some memorable guests and what made them memorable.
MR: Each guest is unique as their individual writing. Poets, Thom Woddruff, Dorothy Ellis Barnett, Garrison Martt, and Preston Tyree all read their poetry live, which gave me chills. Len Leatherwood, President of the Story Circle Network, was particularly memorable because its founder, Susan Wittig Albert had such a profound impact on me that I changed careers.
MAB: Guests who are skilled with written words sometimes struggle with spoken words when live on the air. How have you … or how would you … help them sound good on your show?
MR: Preparation is key. I prefer not to give questions to my guests in advance, so the conversation is organic and doesn’t sound rehearsed. However, I do provide KOOP policy in advance about what they can say. I meet them at the studio 30 minutes before WOA airs, so they can become familiar with the studio. I think about what I would like to be asked.
MAB: Besides your show, what else are you involved in at KOOP and in the community?
MR: At KOOP, I am a member of the News and Information committee and the Writing committee. Since 1995, I have been a volunteer at the Texas State Library Talking Book Program, where I narrate books and articles for clients unable to read traditional print books.
MAB: How about a sneak preview of your next couple shows, please?
MR: In a couple weeks, you’ll hear an on-site interview with Spike Gillipsee with the O’Henry Museum in downtown Austin. Then, on December 20, members of the Austin Poetry Society will recite Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales.
You can hear and enjoy Writing On the Air with Mindy Reed every Wednesday at 3pm.
Interview by Michael A. Brown