BY PAUL CHADERJIAN
It’s past one o’clock on a Thursday morning, and “Coast to Coast AM,” my favorite late-night radio talk show is beaming via headphone into my left ear from an AM radio station in Los Angeles.
It has just rained, and inhaling that fresh, clean smell of fresh air after a downpour prompted my first thought of gratitude on this day.
The Queen of Media, Oprah Winfrey, once preached about keeping a gratitude journal, and since I’ve noticed that focusing on all the blessings we have paves the way for even more blessings to be grateful for.
We live in an amazing era and must not overlook the amazing blessings we experience daily. From scientists growing replacement organs for the ill to having water on tap when needed, every second of our modern lives is pregnant with blessings and joy.
From the beauty of nature to the miracles of our five senses, from overweight pets cuddling-up next to us while we read a good book to laying in bed and composing this column on my phone – every single minute detail of our lives can simply be wondrous.
And to think we would’ve never existed had our grandparents not been real life heroes with the will to live and who survived the Turkish barbarism of intolerant sociopaths and psychopaths (intraspecies predators).
Another blessing are human connections, exchange of ideas, opinions, respect, and tolerance. How great that Armenians learned from the Turkish intolerance and oppression that resulted in a genocide and can be as different from one another, hold no common values or opinions, and yet still accept one another as an Armenian and as a human.
Not all of us have learned though, and some Armenians out there find opportunities where they shouldn’t and become judge and jury about what opinions should have an audience what should not.
I learned this lesson when last week I wrote that this year’s Eurovision song was not an Armenian song. Who was I to judge, but I had. My criticism was about bad lyrics, and I apparently upset a few intolerant Armenians.
“Too many people just like the author of this piece decide that they are cultural experts,” said one anonymous critic. “It’s time for them to be quiet and go away.”
Pack up and dissolve into a non-Armenian existence because I don’t like bad lyrics? Really? Funny.
See how fragile human connections and interactions are? All efforts should be made to fuel and bond us, however different we are, rather than cut off dialogue because we hold a different opinion about one song’s lyrics.
Why I write about connections is because that’s what make us human and allows for subcultures and hence cultures to be created and maintained. Connections – be it one-on-one, through small groups in foreign lands, or through mass media – are what have preserved our ethnicity, which could’ve easily been forgotten history.
As I listen to a scientist talking in my ear about genies talking to humans and Shamanism, I am writing about how one innovative, young Armenian has started fresh, new dialogue between his peers utilizing Information Age technologies and creating a novel new podcast.
Where no dialogue had existed, one young man and his friends are able to use the Internet to create new human connections, new Armenian subcultures, where they didn’t exist before.
Here’s how I made a connection with these young Armenian broadcasters. It was thanks to my father’s uncle, Shukri Keri, who was six-years-old during the Genocide. He was found alive underneath corpses by Bedouins searching through Armenian bodies for salvageable belongings.
Shukri Keri lived with these nomadic Arabs for more than a decade and the only Armenian he could remember were the words of Psalm 23. An Armenian merchant doing business with the Bedouin found my dad’s uncle in the Syrian desert and alerted the AGBU in Beirut to rescue him so that he could live as an Armenian once again.
It was Shukri Keri’s granddaughter, actress and comedienne Lory Tatoulian, who had been a guest on a podcast called Raw Radio and her appearance was mentioned on Facebook by her friend Yeghia Elvis. I wanted to hear her interview, so I searched the iTunes podcast directory for “Raw Radio” and found it with a few clicks. The graphic for the podcast is a slab of raw meat to demonstrate the podcast’s premise, and for a second I wasn’t sure this was what I was looking for.
Within seconds, however, I was listening to this amazingly entertaining and interesting Armenian talk show hosted by a 30-year-old named Alex. Raw Radio is on iTunes but can also be heard via the web page rawradiopodcast.blogspot.com.
As I listened to a few episodes, I found out that Alex, who is a talented voice-over artist and graphic designer, decided to buy a couple of good microphones, connect them to his computers, and thus set up a studio in his apartment.
Since last December, Alex has been inviting some friends to his place and asking them to talk about issues that are on the minds of young American-Armenians.
A few minutes into the first monologue of the most current episode, I was a fan. Alex has a charismatic on-air presence. He’s a natural performer, communicator, and broadcaster, and it’s a pleasure to listen him.
He has one of these rare voices that you actually want to hear more of, and that he is an Armenian with some insights into the Armenian experience that have not been articulated in a public era was to me sheer genius.
Though you may or may not agree with him, the fact that he’s putting himself out there, out to millions of Internet users, is commendable.
What’s also commendable is that he and his peers don’t care what a few pea-brained, disagreeing and anonymous Armenians with only hatred and vitriol to contribute to our collective experience will say or not say about them.
Through the some 14-weeks of the Raw Radio podcasts, I heard dialogue about Armenian music, vodka and mixed drinks, card games, and the strange Armenians who hang out eating seeds outside 7-11’s.
Raw Radio also featured interviews with innovative young people like comedienne Lory Tatoulian, writer and event organizer Atina Hartunian, and musician and photographer Mher Ajemian.
These hour-long shows also featured risque subjects like dating and sex and themes that I have only heard discussed on mainstream media programs like George Noory’s show that I’m listening to now. Raw Radio has tackled them all including chem-trails, 9/11 conspiracy theories, fluoride in our water, and spirituality and intuition.
For all the decades we’ve had Armenian television stations on the airwaves and the dozens of Armenian radio stations streaming on-line, no one has had the audacity to create and host a frank talk show like Raw Radio. No one has taken the time to connect with other Armenians through media about real-life matters beyond news headlines. No one has taken the time for simple, common man talk about common subjects. For this we need to encourage Alex and his friends and make sure they continue to share their outspoken spirits, thoughts, and ideas with our community and the world.
Inspired by and surpassing Alex’s role model – the King of all Media, Howard Stern – Raw Radio is a rare find, save for the extra and sometimes unnecessary use of profanities. It’s also a modern-era radio drama, taking place in Alex’s apartment, where friends are exchanging frank ideas, unabashed, and not holding back on their opinions and their humanity. And it’s dialogue you can also be an audience to, that you can enjoy, and that you can use to stay connected with other Armenians.
Raw Radio is a breath of fresh air on my iPod and computer, and for this I am grateful this Thursday morning. It’s time for a new generation of Armenians to take over the reigns and try to create dialogue and real-life media in our community. Perhaps they’ll be more defiant and not take obnoxious and uncivilized anonymous critics to heart.
And since my thumbs are hurting from typing on my phone, I’ll stop and ask you to discover and enjoy our young and innovative Armenian broadcasters and their show.
Sent to Asbarez via 3ApplesBerry