Arts & Culture / Mosaic / May 2, 2012

Poore takes to the airwaves

Sophomore Christopher Poore said his love affair with radio began with his high school girlfriend. She had a midnight radio show and he would stay up to listen. Poore would call in and they would end up talking and talking during the show. As they became closer, she would take him with her to the studio, albeit against the rules and they would stay there, talking and playing music. Poore expressed that this “emotional entanglement with audio” has made it impossible for him to think of the medium in a cleansed or impersonal way. For him, it is about two people sharing an experience.

Poore, majoring in English Literature with minors in both Religious Studies and Spanish, is an editor for Catch, editor-in-chief for The Common Room, writer for Knox Magazine, contributor to The Knox Student and radio show host for his own creation “Fanfair for the Uncommon Man.”

During the show, which airs on Mondays at 10 p.m. on 90.7 WVKC, Poore talks to Knox artists and they share their art, poems and music. Once he even had a dancer, though the dance couldn’t be seen through the radio, Poore said, “That didn’t stop us.”

Poore is captivated by the intimacy of the one-on-one conversations he has with people on his show, as well as the audience who may or may not be listening.

“The cool thing is it is intimate on a wide scale,” Poore said. “It’s intimate but it’s also public because it’s not just two people having a conversation — it’s also some girl doing her homework in her dorm room, some guy with the radio turned on while he’s making art in CFA; it’s a man in a basement somewhere in Galesburg.”

He said, “There are nights when I’m sure no one is listening … it’s this abstract multitude that you’re always conscious of but you never quite know, and more important to me … is the person I can see, the person who’s right across from me because they have a story to tell, and even if no one else is interested in listening to this story, I’m really interested.”

Poore came up with the idea for “Fanfair for the Uncommon Man,” while listening to Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” on his way to Knox. He liked the “rambunctiousness,” the “pioneering spirit,” the “clanging.”

“It’s just such a part … of our American songbook. It’s hard to remove the feelings that generations before us have already attached to [Copland].”

In conjunction with his job with Knox Magazine, Poore has also started a podcast titled “This is Where We Live.”

Poore’s inspiration for the format came from listening to long-form journalism pieces on public radio.

“I think that it’s a very, very intimate format because it incorporates the living, visceral voice and allows that voice to tell a story,” Poore said. “It’s much more alive than if it were just written down on a page.”

The idea for his first episode, “Crows,” which can be found on the Knox website, grew from “living in Galesburg and having to live alongside these animals and not understanding them, or thinking I understood them, or being frightened of them … or feeling a sort of poetic attraction.”

This “unstable relationship” inspired him to investigate them more and also investigate what other people thought of the birds.

He wanted something immediately recognizable and as Poore pointed out, “Everyone has a crow story.”

Coming from Colorado, Galesburg’s rather large flock of crows and the image of the crow influenced his image of Knox and “all I had was this very superficial image of the crow in winter.”

Looking so closely at them changed this “superficial” perspective to one of deeper need and prosaic intimacy. He needed to record their voices for his podcast, and had not done so by the time they left Standish Park in January. This began a search of sorts, and he recruited his friends to help him find the crows.

“So it became a sort of chase … almost like flirtation even,” Poore said.

Poore was reluctant to divulge many details for his next podcast, as he said the “dough was still rising.”

Unlike “Fanfair,” the title for his podcast did not come so easily. Poore meditated on what he should call this project and midway through making the first episode he found it in a conversation with Associate Professor of English Monica Berlin. The two discussed people making lives here, the presence of the place and how it’s not a transient experience.

Essential to Poore was including the collective pronoun.

“The ‘we’ was important to me,” Poore said. “This is where we live not just typically, [but] emotionally, mentally, symbolically.”

Elizabeth Schult

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