Friday, August 31, 2012

Open Source RVA is coming your way

It's Friday. And that means Open Source RVA, WRIR's weekly news digest, is back.

On today's episode,  hosts Chris Dovi, Amy Daniel and Don Harrison take a look at how the reopening of a city school site is reopening old wounds of environmental racism, and we also try again to broadcast our interview with members of the Art Deco Society of Virginia.

All of that and more, at 4 p.m. on WRIR 97.3 FM and Won't you join us?

(... and to download the podcast of last week's Open Source RVA, click right here.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Richmond Magazine: Shelf Life

My feature article on local author David Robbins -- and the growing brouhaha over his deal with's new publishing division -- is now online at Richmond Magazine's website.

David Robbins spent two years working on his forthcoming novel, The Devil’s Waters. The Sandston native traveled the world on military vessels and freighters to research the modern-day espionage adventure involving an elite team of rescuers, Somali pirates and a ship full of valuable U.S. contraband.
But his book’s most interesting clashes may be occurring off the page. “Battle lines are being drawn,”Robbins sighs, echoing a Stephen Stills lyric.

After publishing his first nine books with traditional publishers such as Random House, the co-founder of the James River Writers group will be releasing his 10th in November through a newly formed imprint called Thomas & Mercer, which is owned by leading e-retailer

Click here to read the rest of "Shelf Life."

I'm all over Rich Mag this month. In addition to the David Robbins article, I also wrote a large piece on Virginia's single-sex colleges for the magazine's College Guide... and Chris Dovi and I got a nice shoutout from Kate Andrews about the new Open Source RVA radio show on WRIR. Thanks Kate!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Open Source RVA: Aug. 24, 2012 Podcast

We had some unfortunate technical difficulties with the broadcast of Friday's episode of Open Source RVA, but you can now download the complete (and expanded) podcast of the show.

Click here and listen to the Aug. 24, 2012 edition of Open Source RVA on WRIR 97.3 LP FM.

This episode features a frank discussion with Rev. Ben Campbell about public transportation in the region, a chat with Olivia Lloyd and Andy Nishida of the Art Deco Society of Virginia, and an interview with Public Utilities Director Bob Steidel about a petition to lower Richmond's water service fees, the second part in our series on the local cost of H20.

Don Harrison, Chris Dovi and Amy Daniel are the hosts. Jay Westermann is the producer. 

Fret not. We're working on getting the other three episodes online very soon. So stay tuned.

ROCK 'n' ROLL RIOT on Sunday's Radio Wowsville!

It's time once again to grease up your sideburns and for Suzy Q to pour into her Pink Pedal Pushers.
No, Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps won't be playing a weekend sock hop at the Louisa Soda Shoppe -- next best thing. This Sunday night at 11PM on WTJU, Radio Wowsville will unleash its 9th (or 10th) semi-annual Rock 'n' Roll Riot!

[In case you should need to inform a square, the Riot features two explosive hours of greasy, stomping, desperate, twangy, unusual, and very often sick rock and rockabilly from the '50's and early '60's. This is your granddaddy's "indie-rock" and there's nothing quaint about it.]
Find out how, on the eighth day, the Lord made brothel creepers!
Quiver with anticipation as an army of Elvis wannabes, fueled on bennies and Dr. Pepper, take over your country barn dance with switchblades and snare drum paradiddles!
Hear EVEN MORE salty stories of two-timing teen queens with “conjugatin'” names like Bertha Lou, Peggy Sue and Screamin’ Mimi Jeanie! 

MAN, IT'LL BE A CRAZY DATE! Tune into Radio Wowsville's semi-annual Rock 'n' Roll Riot, Sunday, Aug. 26 at 11PM on WTJU (or listen after the fact at the WTJU tape vault) and find out what you are really rebelling against?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Today's Open Source RVA on WRIR

“Open Source RVA” is WRIR’s weekly news digest, now under new management and boasting new menu options.

On today's episode, hosts Don Harrison, Chris Dovi and Amy Daniel will talk about the state of public transportation in Richmond, introduce listeners to the Art Deco Society of Virginia, and present the second in a two part segment on the growing fight over the city’s water rates. 

All of this and much more, starting at 4 p.m. on WRIR 97.3 FM and Be there. Aloha.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Open Source RVA at 4 p.m.

Today's episode of Open Source RVA takes a look at Richmond's status as a bicycle-friendly city, and highlights the ongoing debate over the proposed Shockoe Bottom ballpark. We also present the first in a two-part series on River City's unusually high water rates.

And there's more - but why spoil it?

Open Source RVA, WRIR's audio news digest, comes to you every Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. Tune the dial to 97.3 FM or hear the show on the vast series of tubes at

We love feedback, incidentally. Send your applause, criticism and news tips to opensourcerva@gmail.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Take the Virginia Drive-In Tour

Summer may be winding down but there's still time to indulge in one of the time-honored hot month activities - watching a movie at a drive-in movie theater (even if you have to drive a little bit to get there).

While there are no drive-ins left in the eastern part of the commonwealth -- none in Richmond (boo hoo) -- the Central and Western Virginia areas can boast of several outdoor cinemas. Some of these big screens are picturesque survivors of the drive-in's original golden era (the '50's) and some are newer constructions. Yes, that's right, at a time when drive-ins have all but disappeared nationally, Virginia still builds new ones.

I've been fascinated with drive-ins since I was a kid, and over the years I've written articles for various publications about this cool but disappearing experience. For The Roanoker magazine, I wrote a piece on the Hull Drive-In in Lexington. The Hull, a great place to see a flick,  is still flourishing, overseen by an organization of preservationists called "Hull's Angels."

Frank Kulesza stands perfectly calm while ribbons of thick celluloid travel precarious pathways around his head.

“I’m having trouble right now,” the manager of Lexington’s Hull Drive-In Theatre says matter-of-factly, showing me the destination of tonight’s first feature as it travels into a lighted metal shutter.

“Right now I’ve got a paper clip holding it all together.”

“Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle” unfurls through various wobbly spindles and around corners, twisting and re-spooling onto a large dish that looks like a yo-yo turned on its side.

This is occurring in a cramped projection booth no bigger than your Aunt Deborah’s old storage closet. The Hull’s monstrous Brenkart-RCA movie projector, which has been with the theater since it first opened in 1950, takes up a large portion of the space; the flickering beast seems more like something out of “Forbidden Planet” – Robby the Robot’s older brother – than the sleek and sophisticated digital equipment we’re used to fiddling with at home.

The nation’s only nonprofit drive-in, the legendary Hull still does it the old-fashioned way, with a paper clip if necessary; keeping alive that peculiar American small-town phenomenon – watching movies in the car.
Click here to read the rest of "See You at the Movies."

Also for The Roanoker, I put together a Western Virginia "drive-in tour," compiling all of the surviving screens and documenting their stories. Since the article was published, alas, the Hiland Drive-in in Rural Retreat has closed, and so has the Fork Union Drive-in outside of Charlottesville (a place that was practically a hangout for me at one time). But we've also seen the opening of a new drive-in just outside of Hadensville and it looks like it is thriving. I profiled the Goochland Drive-in and its hopeful owners in a Style Weekly piece called "Screen it and They Will Come."

Take the "Western Virginia Drive-In Tour" by clicking here.

And read "Screen it and They Will Come" right here.

... and please remember to replace the speaker on the post when you exit. The management thanks you.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Radio Wowsville is Gearing Up!

Tanned, rested and ready, the Radio Wowsville team -- seen here with plucky sidekick Corky -- is currently hard at work sorting out plugs and wires, all in anticipation of tonight’s very special "double team" broadcast on WTJU 91.FM
It is said that Uncle Beatdown (left) and Brother Breakdown (right) will endeavor to produce a radio hour worthy enough to be called a “whap a dang.” Ambitious stuff, truly. 
Tune in at 11PM right here…. or listen to a stream of this Radio Wowsville episode, after the fact, at WTJU’s spiffy tape vault.
Isn't technology wonderful?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Richmond Magazine: Gimme Little Sign

My feature article on the City of Richmond's "waysigning" program is now up on Richmond magazine's web site:

Bill Martin is looking for signs. 
“We have all of these rich cultural attractions, and no one can find them,” the director of the Valentine Richmond History Center says, a little exasperated, as he drives around town.

Martin, along with other museum directors and cultural stakeholders, has been working with the city — pleading, actually — to implement a long-burning plan to update Richmond’s road signage, which would better direct visitors to attractions such as the Valentine, the Virginia Historical Society, the Landmark Theater, Maymont and many others. And it would appear that, starting this month, there will finally be movement on the issue, coincidentally timed with a $21 million, federally funded overhaul of the city’s traffic-light system.

As it stands now, confusion reigns. Cruising along in his Ford Focus, Martin notes a group of people standing near the Convention Center, all of them looking with crinkled eyebrows at a large map. “You see that around here all the time,” he says. “They look lost. Once you get there, to the attraction, you are fine, there are signs, but it’s the getting there.”
Click here to get the rest of the story.

For your beach reading pleasure, you can also find "Gimme Little Sign" in the print edition of the publication's 25th Annual Best & Worst issue, available on newsstands and finer beach towels right now. (Illustration by the mighty David Busby.)