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My name is Vickie and I live in Chicago. I decided to put together a podcast-like show because, hey, everyone else is doing it. I have music to play and there are people out there who would like most, if not all, of what I play. I focus on female vocals because male voices can be heard EVERYWHERE, and I've always thought that women's voices were seen as more novelty than accepted. Even during the heyday of Lilith Fair, it didn't change much. The Lilith era was seen as a fad or a passing phase. I have no particular loyalty to Lilith Fair, as few of my favorite artists were part of it, but I did think it was a worthwhile effort by everyone involved, and I admire Sarah McLachlan deeply for starting it.

I consider myself a strong feminist, but don't consider the show from a strong feminist point-of-view. I just like female voices, and I like all kinds of music, so all I want to do is play music, not rant and rave about the state of music today. Actually, I know very little about the state of music today anyway. I don't listen to the radio or watch TV. All I know is that few of my favorite artists are famous, and that tells me everything I need to know.

My favorite compliment ever was from people who told me that they didn't notice or soon forgot that they were only hearing female voices. I want it to be about the music as much as the voices. Btw, I am not one to never play male voices. You're likely to hear male background singers or duets on occasion.

Suspended In Gaffa ran from 1988 to 1994* on KKFI, a 100,000 Watt Community station in Kansas City, MO, and from 1990 to 1994* on WZRD, a 100 Watt college station in Chicago, IL

The show is named for the Kate Bush song, but the title meant something very specific to me when I originally started the show. If I ever get around to it, I'll write it up and include it here.

If one of the artists I play gets wind of this page, hi! If anyone wants me to take their song off my "playlist," just e-mail me and I'll take the show down ASAP. Please don't sue me or threaten my ISP. I'm very poor, and the ISP folks are very nice. I just like to play good music for people who might enjoy it.

I realize what I'm doing is dodgy, in the copyright sense, so you're not going to see very many major label artists. I'd like to focus on more obscure artists that you may not have heard before, in hopes that you seek them out and support them as artists, and/or remember them if they're forgotten. I love all the big artists that you see to the left...they're my favorites, but I can't "play" most of them because I don't want their record companies crashing down on my head, sorry. The record companies are much bigger than me and it would hurt, and besides, most of those people's music is easy to find elsewhere. No Tori, no Sarah, no Bjork, very little Kate (*sob* she's my favorite). You'll get lots of Happy Rhodes though. She said I could share her music, joy!

I also realize my shows are pretty white, and generally Western-centric. I lost 80gb worth of mp3s in a recent hard drive crash, and what I have left are mp3s that were on an unaffected hard drive and backup discs. I don't mean to purposely exclude any specific artists. I'm only able to play what I have. I had my whole CD collection there. Boo hoo. It's going to be a long, hard slog to rip all my CDs again, so the going will be slow.

Also, to be perfectly honest, few black singers play the kind of music I like. I don't generally care for blues, R&B, soul, jazz or hip-hop, so if I find and play something from those genres, it has to be pretty interesting. There are always exceptions. I will look for them. At the same time, I don't generally care for country, opera, cabaret or other "white-oriented" music, so I honestly don't consider it to be a racial predjudice. It's a musical predjudice. Give me interesting music and I'll consider playing it. I don't need to broaden my mind, I need to broaden my mp3 collection. Artists that I really like, such as Lauren Hill, Sherri Jackson, Nona Hendryx, Zap Mama and Grace Jones were wiped out in my hard drive crash.

I'm not a writer so I don't give as much information as perhaps some would like. I hope that people who are interested in specific artists will go searching for information on their own.

Technical information

Well, there's hardly any to speak of. I put the shows together using Winamp and an old version of an editing program. All the songs come from my own collection.

It takes me quite a while to put the shows together. "DJ" work is much harder than it would seem. I admire those who do it on a regular basis. That is, if they're playing music they themselves choose and not what some corporate entity tells them to play. I never wanted to be a professional DJ because I can't stand the thought of someone telling me I have to play a song I think is crap. It would sap my soul very quickly. People may not like every song I play, but when I play it you can be sure I like it, and really, I can only please myself and hope others like the music too.

That last is a good reason why I don't take requests. People are free to suggest artists, and if I can get mp3s I'll check them out, but no guarantees. That's not to mean that if I haven't played someone yet I don't like them. Maybe I don't know about them, or maybe I haven't heard them yet, or maybe I just haven't gotten around to playing them. Feel free to suggest artists via my guestbook. Don't take it personally if you don't hear them for awhile though.

Lastly, just to make it absolutely 100% perfectly crystal clear, this a non-commercial venture. I do not and will not take ads, banners or payola for playing someone. If someone wants to send me a CD or let me download mp3s, I'll gladly take it/them, but there's NEVER any guarantees that I'll play something from the artist.

Anatomy of a show

Pictured is an image of part of my desktop. Click on it for a larger version. Pictured (in Winamp) are the first 5 Suspended In Gaffas, 2 full shows (the first starting with Najma and ending with Ella Blame, the second starting with Micropixie and ending with Alkistis Protopsalti), then various other songs in no particular order. There are actually over 1000 songs in that Winamp playlist. I scroll down to check titles and songs and drag them up closer to the top if they're "potentials." To the right is Sound Forge, where the shows are acually built.

The first thing I do is fire up Winamp, drag and drop songs from a directory into Winamp, and start listening. I usually have one specific song in mind that I definitely want to play in that show. I build the show around that song. It may or may not be the first song, and at times, that signature song ends up not working at all, I switch songs, and I save it for another show. I move songs up and down with my cursor. If it's a song I know well I don't have to listen to the whole thing, I just listen to the beginning and end. I keep trying songs to see how well they fit together. When I have a show pretty much set I add up the times to see if it will be around an hour. If I have some time I'll search for another song to add. Sometimes that throws off the whole show and I end up changing everything around.

Once I have everything pretty much set I put the songs into their own SIG directory, then change the filenames to reflect where in the show they'll appear, like this: SIG08_song_05_AnnePigalle_IntermissionTheGodsAreBored.mp3. Very often I'll change which show is what. That Anne Pigalle song ended up in show #6, and those songs in the picture changed from #7 to #8 (and they were originally supposed to be in #6!) so the show number is just a guide, since I'm often working on several shows at a time.

That helps me when I go to add the pictures later and is just an easy way to keep the songs in order if I forget what was supposed to go where. I drag and drop the show songs into Sound Forge then go get a snack while they're "building peaks" whatever the hell that is. I start a new file then drag and drop the first song into it. The first screenshot shows the Micropixie song in the unnamed document. I listen to the end of the song, then listen to the beginning of the 2nd song. I start playing the first song about 3/4 of the way in, then click on the 2nd song's window. I Select All, hold my cursor down to drag it into the first window, but don't let go until the first song is almost over. I listen to find the point where I want them to merge, then let go of the mouse button. Sound Forge mixes the two together. I start playing the first song again about 30 seconds from the end, and close my eyes and listen to the mix. If the mix isn't exactly where it should be, I Undo and try again. Then, before I minimise the song (I keep them in Sound Forge in case I need to re-do the show), I make up a 30ish second snippet and save that.

Yes, I put the shows together via their waveforms. That doesn't strike me as odd, but it might to others.

I add song by song to the main window and if I'm lucky, it'll all come to just around an hour. I sometimes have to change the "volume" of songs that are way too quiet. I try to remember to "normalize" the entire show, then I save it as a wav file, then again as an mp3. There ends the easy part. Next up is finding album cover pictures, resizing them, finding links, doing the web page, thinking of something to say, all of which is so tedious I hate it. I think it's an important part of the "show" and I do want people to see the album covers and be able to click on links, but oh my god is it a pain in the butt, especially for the more obscure artists. I'm often shocked at how little information there is on the web about so many artists. That's one reason why I do think it's important that I continue the web pages. Geez, these people deserve a little something bringing a little attention to them.

Update: I recently started talking, using a microphone and Pod Producer. At this point I record all my talking bits into one file, save it, re-open it in Sound Forge, then drop the appropriate bits into the show. While I do listen to the songs on headphones before I talk, I'm definitely not ready to try to do shows live. I love the Undo function, one of the greatest inventions ever, this side of air-conditioning and the clone brush. For shows I already had put together, I've had to lose songs in order to fit in the talking. Bummer. Does anyone care about this crap?


* It's so bizarre, I can't remember when they went off the air. I think it was 1994.

Pictured, from the top: Kate Bush, Happy Rhodes, Tori Amos, Bjork, Jane Siberry, Mary Margaret O'Hara (sadly no longer recording), Sarah McLachlan, Victoria Williams, Milla (sadly no longer recording), Nan Vernon (sadly no longer recording), Sheila Chandra.