Aug 2, 2004
Four Corners Business Journal
Where innovative ideas take
root: Good Dirt Radio
By Indiana Reed
DURANGO - The tallest tree in the forest
had its origin in good dirt. A farmer's healthiest crop comes from
good dirt. And innovative ideas to help sustain the planet are taking
root thanks, in part, to good dirt - Good Dirt Radio, that is.
Plant allusions and double-entendres aside, Good Dirt Radio is literally
a blossoming entertainment enterprise based at Cosmix Sound studio
in Durango, and birthed from the desire to hear some good news in
the media - for a change.
"You pick up the paper in the morning and you feel horrible after
reading it," said Jude Terry, one of the eight board members behind
Good Dirt Radio. "Then you turn on the TV and it's worse news there.
So, even though people were feeling a little bit helpless with the
course of events in the world, I think by taking less of a helpless
stand and pointing out the positive things people are doing... That's
a good move."
Good Dirt Radio, currently a non-profit organization but jumping
through the legal hoops to become a bona fide Limited Liability
Company, produces five-minute radio modules profiling companies,
organizations or individuals that are making a positive difference
in sustaining the environment.
"No gloom and doom stuff," said board member Tom Bartels, who hosts
the shows with Tami Graham. "The intended response from the listener
is 'Hey, that's cool. Can we do that here in our community?' Or,
'Hey, there's hope. We can have a business and save the environment
at the same time.' And it's fun to hear stories that are working
in business and community organizations... There are all kinds of
cool stories out there about people not waiting for top-down management.
They're taking things into their own hands."
Indeed, business and environmental consciousness are not mutually
exclusive entities, and Good Dirt is seeking to promote that. All
of the board members, whose "real" professions range from lawyer
and psycho-therapist to real estate and consulting, have carved
out volunteer time to launch Good Dirt, because it matters.
"We're a good example of the kinds of businesses that can live simply
and expand at the same time," said board member Nancy Jacques. "We
found in our personal lives we live what we're talking about."
"It's satisfying to be learning things and promulgating information
that's positive and hopefully turning other people on to new ideas,"
said Gary Lewin, who is credited with launching Good Dirt and has
donated Cosmix Sound's studio for production.
"It's all about getting the information out there," echoed Graham,
who, along with Bartels, has significant experience in the electronic
media. "There are so many wonderful, innovative, progressive, positive
things happening. It's just that people don't know about them."
Much of the founders' time has been spent in recent months digging
up the proverbial good dirt, topics that have had broad regional
or national appeal but have been grounded locally.
"We looked around our neighborhood to see what we as a culture are
doing here," said Graham. "It's a pretty progressive community,
so there have been different examples out there to start with."
Shows that have aired locally on KSUT (the last Wednesday of each
month at 4:30 p.m. in the midst of "All Things Considered") and
KDUR (twice monthly) have included topics such as green building,
natural mosquito control, organic tree support, bio-diesel, green
hotels, and more. Interviews for Good Dirt features have been conducted
from as far away as Maine. Because the stories are only five minutes,
limiting the amount of information that can be disseminated, listeners
are encouraged to visit the web site, www.gooddirtradio.org and
link to sources and resources to learn more.
This broad-based, somewhat universal approach to story development
will continue, as Good Dirt Radio is wrapping up its local pilot
program and preparing to go regional through the High Country Community
Radio Coalition, a coalition of public radio stations in the five
Rocky Mountain states.
"Once it's on the web, it's international," said Bartels, noting
that both transcripts and audio in Real Player of previously aired
stories can already be downloaded from the web.
"I think our goal is to become nationally aired on public radio,
and there's somewhere around 1,000 or 1,100 stations," said Lewin,
adding that the show has already received accolades, and its quality
has been compared to NPR-produced shows. "If we can get on a good
number of those, we'll feel like we're getting a good chunk of good
"Part of the perimeters we're trying to keep between is to not be
another 'eco show,' so that we're just pigeon-holed like some other
environmental programs are," said Bartels, stressing that Good Dirt
wants to promote activities regardless of political affiliation.
"We want to make sure we include anybody, including industry that's
taking the right steps to make a shift... We've got to make sure
that they get kudos for that and not be criticized all the time.
That's important too because we have to bring everyone along."
"Good dirt is good dirt. It doesn't matter who it comes from," said
board member Michael Rendon, who has contributed the informational
resources found in Fort Lewis College's Environmental Center, of
which he is director.
The board holds monthly meetings to handle business, as well as
discuss potential stories and meet with writers. Many on the board
have taken on the writing responsibilities themselves, and while
they intend to remain hands-on, they are eager to add to the team.
"We're in the process of enlisting new people to help because it's
a big project," said Lewin, pointing to the writers' guidelines,
code of ethics and contract posted on the web site. "We will be
Good Dirt's financial support, especially going forward into regional
and national markets, comes from sponsorships - which are limited
to those operating in an "environmentally responsible fashion,"
according to Lewin. Currently, local marketing professional Lisa
Mackey is preparing the promotional materials to secure the sponsorships
needed to support the expansion.
Bartels expects a slight growing pain when Good Dirt expands to
High Country Community Radio, but "we'll figure out what's the best
approach and from there we'll take it to the national level. I'm
hoping that happens inside the next year, but we'll be flexible
depending on what we can handle with staff."
"We're learning things too along the way," added Terry of how the
information garnered through Good Dirt is changing their lives.
"It's just really cool."
"When I think of this, I think of three words," said board member
Ron Margolis of what he hopes Good Dirt Radio is doing and will
do for people. "Encourage... inspire... and empower."
the original Four Courners Business Journal article.