Each year, in Nashville, TN, there is an event called Country Radio Seminar (CRS) designed for country radio stations, pulling together programs and material for Program Directors, Disc Jockeys and Publicity/Advertising specialists. There are sponsors, advertisers, special events, giveaways and lots of networking. Back home listeners wait for their favorite DJs to return from CRS with interviews of up and coming country music entertainers along with some established and “old time” stars. And this year, one of the people sitting in on those interviews, February 25-27, was me!
I think the phone call came in November from Mary Kay who writes for Country Music Matters blog. “Hey, the CMM owner can’t make it to CRS this year and I’m going in her place. She is applying for media credentials for me. Do you want to go along?” Several days in Nashville? With Mary Kay? Media credentials? “I’ll call you back”. Step 1 – check the points available in my Southwest Airlines account and find out I have enough for a free ticket. Step 2 – “Honey, would you mind if I went to Nashville with Mary Kay for a few days in late February? I have enough points for a free ticket”. Really, asking was a formality. Hubby would say OK. And he did. I called Mary Kay back. “I’m in!”. Then we waited. CMM applied for media credentials for us, gave me a CMM email address in addition to the one Mary Kay had, and still we waited. We talked. Still want to go if we don’t get credentials? Sure thing.
Meanwhile we both began getting e-mails from publicists, record labels, management companies, etc., with all types of information as to who was who, who had signed with which company, who was appearing where. At last the word came back. We were set with credentials. Then the fun began.
We looked and hunted for lodging, selecting a 2 bedroom house through AirBandB. Priceline came up with a great price on a car rental. I searched through our storeroom and found a tripod. Washed it, lubricated it, and made sure it fit the camera. Mary Kay bought a video camera. I bought and returned 2 cameras – both far more sophisticated than I was prepared to learn to operate. Two days before departure I settled on a Cannon 520, downloading the operating manual to my iPad so I could study it on the plane.
After many phone calls and emails we settled on a list of items we would need each day: ID badges/credentials; video camera; tripod; multi-outlet power strip; business cards and card holders for each of us; microphone; still camera; Country Music Matters signs; black sharpie markers; schedule of interviews; information about each person being interviewed and prepared questions; cell phones and chargers; iPads and chargers; laptop; mobile Wi-Fi; notebooks; pens; insulated bag with water and snacks in case we couldn’t get out for lunch,; and tote bags to haul it all from the car to the convention center.
Day 1. We load up looking somewhat like refugees carrying all their belongings. My large and heavy tote, large purse, old style metal tripod, insulated bag with water and snacks, Mary Kay’s purse, Mary Kay’s rolling briefcase with the laptop and signs. We find a parking garage for just $10 a day. We park. Walk down stairs and ramps, and a block to the Convention Center. We check in and are given backpacks filled with goodies. During the day various artist representatives gave us more goodies including tote bags filled with goodies from a great new singer, Abi Ann. All of this plus coats and scarves was piled into the “interview room”, a curtained area, about 6 ft. x 8 ft. lined up with dozens of other same sized interview areas. The curtains are black and the lighting limited. We aren’t sure whether we are to do interviews or get out a crystal ball and tell fortunes.
We positioned the small interview table, 2 chairs, and tripod with video camera to the best advantage. Once the interviews started it was one after the other with little free time. I had the very easy part – pushing the red button on the video camera which gave Mary Kay the OK to start the interview. While that was happening I did my best to get some good still shots, in the dark atmosphere, not using the flash so that it wouldn’t interrupt the video. The day passed in a blur and before we knew it we were packing up all of our assorted stuff and heading back home. At the garage we missed a couple of cues and ended up walking up and down icy ramps to the car. Vow – better parking on day 2.
Back at the house we took a good look at all we had and knew we could pare it in half. Deleted, sorted, repacked, downloaded photos, viewed video, wrote up notes, and went to bed. Day 2 we find a more direct way to get to our location along with better parking across the street at the Nashville Library. We had gotten our stuff down to 2 purses, 2 filled backpacks, tripod, insulated bag and signs. Inside the convention center we are assigned to a different “room” and get set up. OOOOOPS! No microphone or business cards. I head back to the car, back to the house, can’t get in with the automated lock. Call Mary Kay to be reminded of the part of the combination lock I’d forgotten. Get the microphone and business cards. Back into the car and back to the parking lot. Lot Full sign is up. I ignore it. Blessedly, Mary Kay has a handicap tag and I find a spot. Make it into the interview area with just a few minutes to spare. Whew! Day 2 goes well and we even get an hour off to have a regular lunch.
By day 3 we have a system. Almost everything is in the backpacks. Insulated bag, tripod and sign. We find a handicap spot just inside the parking lot entrance. Mary Kay switches from sun glasses to regular glasses. No regular glasses. Anywhere. We quickly go into the interview room and get set up then I race back to the house. And I look, and look, and look. I remember Mary Kay being in the dining room and putting on her sunglasses. Her regular glasses have got to be there – but they are not there. I search again and still no glasses. I leave, turning the bottom lock on the door, out of habit, as I walk out the door. Oooops, bad thing to do. The door’s dead bolt locked by us just putting a hand over the control panel. We do not have a key. I have just locked us out of our house and I cannot get back in. Rats! I go to the car and check the trunk. The insulated bag is there. I unzip it. There they are – ice cold glasses. I send Mary Kay a photo. Head back to the convention center and find the same great parking spot. Head in, give Mary Kay her glasses, and break the news about the lock. She calls the owner who says will go by during the day and fix the lock. The day goes well. Day 3 over. CRS interviews over. We made it!
Looking back, things are supposed to get more organized, not less, but at the rate we were going we figure that if there had been a day 4 we would have managed to lock the keys in the car along with our cellphones, or something along that line. Three days was enough.
Now you know the back story, so keep an eye on CountryMusicMatters.com for the videos and interviews. And when you read the stories think about all that went into getting them.
Every Day Is A Great Day. VJ