Welcome to State of the Re:Union
By Al Letson
So this is it. For those of you who never heard of the Public Radio Talent Quest, State of the Re:UNION, or of Al Letson, here’s a quick primer. My name is Al Letson, I’m a playwright, performance poet, actor, director, and a few other titles, I won’t bore you with. I’ve been working as an artist professionally for about 10 years, doing any gig that can pay the bills. I started as a Slam Poet, and still very much consider myself one, even though I don’t actually slam anymore. A year ago (April 07), I was looking up the results of American Idol, which I don’t even watch, but I was curious for some strange reason. When I googled American Idol something entitled Public Radio’s American Idol popped up. I click on the link and found out that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) was looking for new host, and new ideas. I love Public Radio, and figured what the hell.
I entered the contest with 1400 other folks, and with nine other contestants was chosen as a semi finalist. The ten of us, had to go through some pretty strenuous tasks to get to the finish line, along the way, the contestants got pared down to three, and the top three of us, where given funding to make a pilot. Here is where the plot thickens. CPB created two contests to find host: Public Radio Talent Quest run but The Public Radio Xchange (PRX), and Launch productions. I don’t know much about LAUNCH. The way it was described to me is that PRX took the grassroots approach, whereas LAUNCH took the top down model and contacted people who were in Media/celebrities of a sort to have their own shows. Each contest was given funding to create three pilots, and those pilots would vie for their own show. Out of the six, the conventional wisdom was that CPB would pick two.
After a year of competing and a whole lot of waiting, CPB informed me that my show State of the Re:UNION, was chosen as one of the winners. They’d decided to award three shows total. Two from PRX, mine and Glynn Washington’s Snap Judgment, and one from LAUNCH, The Promise Land with host Majora Carter (whom I have not met, but have been a huge fan of for years).
What does all this mean? In the history of Public Broadcasting State of the Re:Union will be one of the first shows ever given this opportunity. For the next year CPB will allow me to develop the program, find out what works, get my footing as a host, and make some killer shows. At the end of that process, you’ll be hearing the show on your public radio station next to Public Radio giants like Ira Glass and Garrison Keillor. I’m honored to have this opportunity. I’d like to give thank you’s in this blog, but there are too many to name. Rest assured if you’ve helped on this journey, you will be personally hearing from me. The staff of SOTRU, and myself will be posting on this blog to from time to time to give you an inside scoop on the progress of the show. It should be a wild and fun ride, so fasten your seatbelt, adjust your seatbacks to full upright position and prepare for take off.