Interview with Lloyd Brodnax King
from the Third Coast International Audio Festival Website, 2006
What inspired you to create The Obscure News?
One, it’s a sin for creative folks not to take advantage of the distribution mechanism dumped in our laps by digital recording and the internet. The cost of producing and distributing The Obscure News (TON) would have been astronomical ten years ago. Now it’s affordable. At heart, I’m kind of a nature-boy-Luddite. I’d just assume not pull all-nighters parked in front of a computer. But for those of us struggling to get our work out there, NOT producing The Obscure News or something like it would be laying down and giving up. I couldn’t very well look my post-Marxist parents and struggling artist friends in the eyes and tell them, yeah, they gave me the means to control production and distribution and I took a pass.
Two, I’m a radio news junkie. Only I get tired of having reality shaped by the media, even responsible media like NPR. So I developed this philosophy of irresponsible broadcasting to give shape and voice to the enormous part of reality not covered by the mainstream. It’s no small task, but TON is just fast and irresponsible enough to cover all the news the networks omitted.
Three, I was inspired by a former student of mine who got a job writing for the Colbert Report. I figured why should he have all the stupid fun?
Why is it well suited to an audio format?
Actually, the notion of irresponsible broadcasting is not limited to the audio format. I hope that down the road we can expand the notion into visual media and live performance as well. But I started with audio because I’m at home in that medium. I’m a trained musician and licensed audio artist. My approach to The Obscure News is rooted in musical composition, musical theater and radio avant garde. Most radio shows that feature audio vérité stories and stuff like that come from a literary tradition. The narrative comes first and the music is just there to help. With TON often the opposite is true. In any case, it’s all music to my ears. And with so many of my friends involved in making music, we’ll never run out of original tunes and backing tracks, most of them quite obscure. Finally, the audio format helps keep everything anonymous, which is key to TON. You can be so much more irresponsible when there are just these disembodied voices coming at you from some obscure universe.
What have been some of your challenges?
Without a doubt the biggest challenge has been trying to produce a quality show while working a full-time job. Other than that, it’s been challenging trying to figure out just what the hell TON is. Mostly I believe the biggest challenges are down the road, like figuring out how can we get the thing to support itself financially.
What's your favorite episode and why?
Sorry, I don’t have a favorite. Whenever I hear a TON issue, I’m stuck thinking about how to do it better next time. However the Anchorwoman says she really digs TON #7, Pretty Good Night, because of how well the tune, What I Did Last Night, fits in with the story material.
Why is anonymity an important part of business? i.e. Who is your host?! Everyone wants to know!
If the host wants to be known, that’s her business. I’ll never tell. Anonymity is crucial. I want people to be able to contribute freely and to tell stories that they’d never reveal to responsible media outlets. Also, anonymity helps mitigate against egomania. And anonymity keeps the project from being fully commodifiable, which is downright perverse in our commercial climate. I suppose I’m saying that some types of perversions are important to maintain. Um... truth is, I’m not altogether sure why anonymity is so damn important. I just know TON’s interesting and more subversive that way.
Tell me about Yolanda.
I love her. She’s young, bitter, naïve and frank. There’s a complex and baffling counterpoint between her text and her voice. Many TON subscribers tune in only to hear what’s up with Yolanda. She rules. Someone’s got to.