Years ago, I was on the airstaff of WEGR, Rock-103 in Memphis. I’d worked at four radio stations before I was hired at Rock-103 and at the time, considered that album-oriented rock station on Memphis’s infamous Beale Street the end all and be all of music radio. Because it was. To be working in music radio in the 80’s in Memphis, Tennessee, with its undisputed reputation of being the town that brought the Delta Blues to the big city, which Elvis, in his unique way, turned into rock-n-roll and inspired The Beatles and a host of others who put Rock-n-Roll on the American map was something I never forgot. Music is Memphis’s claim to fame. It permeates the air of that historic city and anchors its denizens proudly in a strong sense of place.
When one is a DJ at a radio station that reaches thousands, daily, one lives in a world within a world: a close-knit society populated by people who share the same passion, speak the same language, and hold music at the top of the hierarchy of things that really matter. In radio, the wheels turn on a schedule. There are air shifts and play lists, a Program Director, Music Director, sales staff, publicity team, engineers, and in the middle of it all is the Production Director.
At Rock-103, we called Rick Robinson the Production King. We called him that because Rick seemed to have taken up permanent residency in a small studio down the hall from the control room, where he produced radio spots and promos that went on the air. As Rick existed in the midst of a tribe of on-air talent, he was in the habit of summoning any one of us, when we least expected. He’d want to record a voice over for a commercial, a PSA, or perhaps a glib parody, depending on what he was working on in his electronic cave. Rick was the guy who was always firmly and squarely THERE in the creative commotion of Rock 103. He was a permanent fixture with a peculiar set of skills I didn’t know the half of, but I knew he spun magic on behalf of us all at Rock-103, and we relied on him.
It’s funny who you lose track of as the years transpire, yet perhaps it’s understandable for me since I no longer live in Memphis. Life moves on. People change careers, and I left music radio when I moved to Los Angeles and got involved in the record business. Simultaneously, I started concentrating on what I’d been doing since I was in my late teens: writing. Writing has been its own twisting path. So far, it includes four traditionally published novels and one novella, but the reason I’m mentioning this is to say that along writing’s twisting path, I had the good fortune to become involved with Southern Writers Magazine. Which, unbeknownst to me for the first year of my affiliation, just so happened to have its headquarters in Memphis.
It took my correspondence via multiple emails with the Creative Director of Southern Writers Magazine to discover they were headquartered in Memphis. Gary Fearon was the Creative Director’s name, and he and I had cause to collaborate on an advertisement for one of my books. Our back-and-forth correspondence ended up including the proverbial kitchen sink, after I discovered Gary was writing to me from Memphis. “I’m from Memphis,” I twittered.
“I thought you were in California,” came Gary’s reply, which turned into my telling him I was raised in Memphis, where I went to high school, and that I worked in Memphis radio.
“Which station?” came Gary’s query, and when I emailed my response, he said, “You worked at Rock-103? Me too.”
The thing about radio DJ’s is many use a stage name. When Gary Fearon was a DJ at another radio station, he used the name Rick Robinson then retained it, when he worked in production at Rock-103. To say we did chapter and verse over what a small world it is puts it mildly.
But back to my point of how life moves on: Gary Fearon left Southern Writers Magazine to focus full-time on his production demands. Robinsong Productions is the name of his company, where he produces radio and television spots for recording artists on tour and voices audiobooks ( because he’s blessed with precise diction and a tenor both authoritative and memorable.)
And here sat I, on the threshold of the release of my fourth novel, Little Tea, which is set in three places: Memphis, Heber Springs, Arkansas, and Como, Mississippi. The release date is coming up—May 1st—and in this visual world of promotional memes and scroll-stopping images, it occurred to me I needed a book trailer for Little Tea.
I looked at the pictures I took the last time I was in Como, Mississippi and thought, “Who can do a book trailer?”
One name came to mind: Gary Fearon the Production King!
Above, I’m sharing a picture of Gary Fearon. He’s in his studio at Robinsong Production, hard at work on Little Tea’s book trailer.
I love the surprising turns of life’s connections. In a strange way, it feels like an example of what comes around goes around.
I can’t wait to see Little Tea’s book trailer! I understand Gary found an image of a redbone coonhound and will put it on a dirt road, which is suggestive of a scene in the book, Little Tea.
I’ll share the book trailer, here, once it’s finished!
In the meantime, you can read about Gary Fearon at two websites:
http://www.garyfearon.com book trailers and such
http://www.robinsongproductions.com concert clients
Little Tea releases May 1st by Firefly Southern Fiction. It’s available now for preorder.
Little Tea ( named after a character whose real name is Thelonia Winfrey) is the story of those long-lasting female friendships that see you through a lifetime, wherein there’s shared history; language; and sense of humor. The narrator, Celia Wakefield spent part of her childhood at her family’s 3rd generation land in Como, Mississippi, where the cultural social mores concerning racial integration had yet to fully evolve. This premise sets the dynamic of a trajectory of events that impact her friendship with Little Tea and haunt Celia Wakefield decades later. When Celia reunites with two childhood friends at Greer’s Ferry Lake in Heber Springs, Arkansas, Celia’s past resurfaces for long-overdue resolution.