Sean Buvala caught up with storyteller, musician and radio-host Sam Payne while “The Apple Seed” radio program was making friends and making recordings at the 2014 National Storytelling Network Summer Conference in Mesa, Arizona. You can hear Sean and Sam discuss the diverse BYU radio program, an abundance of Sams and just how making friends makes it all work out. A recorded-late-night interview all about the art of storytelling.
You can hear the entire interview in the link down below the transcript and video. Keep on scrolling for more!
Voiceover: (music) You’ve just entered the Storyteller.net Amphitheater (music stops)
Sean Buvala: Hey! Sean Buvala at the National Storytelling Network 2014 Annual Conference in Mesa, Arizona. Why are we sitting here at eleven o’clock at night? My guest this time around is Sam Payne who is the host and probably other stuff he will tell me about for The Apple Seed (TAS). Is it coming out of BYU?
Sam Payne: Yeah, TAS is produced by BYU Radio.
Sean: Excellent. Well, thanks for talking to me. I have been kind of watching what you are doing and, uh, I know that you have interviewed some people that I know. For folks who aren’t yet familiar with TAS, give me, give us, that kind of that one-thousand-foot view of what it is that you guys are doing with this really interesting program.
Sam Payne for the BYU Show Sam: Well, TAS is an hour just about every day, we broadcast six days a week, actually twice during the day. We broadcast at two o’clock eastern and again at nine o’clock eastern. It is an hour just about every day dedicated to the art of storytelling. We play the recorded work of storytellers. We come to events like this to capture live audio. We have interviews either in the studio or on the phone with our favorite tellers and yours. It is just a wonderful hour every day.
Sean: Yeah, that’s good. Now, I can’t recall this off the top of my head, are you on satellite radio?
Sam: We are. We are on SiriusXM station 143. You can also find us at www.byuradio.org, where you can listen at your leisure. All of our episodes are archived there. You can listen on….
Sean: ….you are streaming off of…of that….that’s good. You know, it’s interesting to hear you talk about being on Sirius. It’s been…some….it’s been hard to get bigger media attention to storytelling yet you guys have managed to land on Sirius. How did that come about? What do you know about that?
Sam: BYU was able to land that channel, 143. And in their efforts to program that station, included conversations with the Ashton Family Foundation. The Ashtons, of course, being the foundation that, in great part, are responsible for bringing the world the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival in our neck of the woods.
Sean: Is that the WordPerfect(TM) people? Or am I confusing them with another…
Sam: No, no no. They did at one time have an association with WordPerfect. Yeah…. Through their generous sponsorship, this seemed like a real natural fit for what BYU wanted to do. And, good heavens, the blessing of being able to bring an hour every….again, six days a week…
Sean: No kidding. No kid…
Sam: ….to a nationwide audience, is not lost on us. This is a really great project to be working on.
Sean: Phenomenal, phenomenal stuff. What is your, what is your goal? I mean, what’s the the kind of the motivations behind this….tell me about that a little bit.
Sam: Well, we weren’t, we weren’t given a directive.
Sean: Really? They just kind of said go at it….
Sam: Yeah, they said it’s an hour a day dedicated to the art of storytelling…have fun. So, our, our goals have had not only to do with bringing to the radio the work of tellers who are working on stages and festivals all over the country and all over the world but also to find people who just have fantastic stories to tell. So, we’re working with professional storytellers, and again, people who are preparing material for the stage. But, we have also done some great interviews with folks who are treasure hunters or shipwreck divers or…. We did an episode dedicated to the anniversary of the horrible tornado in Moore, Oklahoma. And, we talked to some of the survivors of that tornado. Again, we’re finding all sorts of great stories just in our community and in communities around the nation. But, really, the centerpiece of the program, the meat, and potatoes of the program, is the work of people who are crafting things for public consumption…the storytellers.
Sean: There are not a lot of programs that blend the performance tellers with the, what I call the “life tellers,” and with storytelling-application people. You guys are really blending…that is diverse…what you just listed…was a very diverse group of people. When you launched, and I can’t remember exactly when you launched because it’s now eleven o’clock at night, but when you launched… (both laugh)….
Sean: …but when you launched back in the day, what were the reactions you were getting from the oral-storytelling, more of the traditional oral-storytelling community…as this group is here…like you are here…what kind of reactions were you getting?
Sam: This community is remarkable in a lot of ways. It’s a cooperative, affable bunch. And so….
Sam: …and so we have just….I mean…at first people just said, “Gosh, good luck to you guys. We wish you the very best.” Then, as our show has taken hold a little bit, as people have come to, people in the storytelling community have come to embrace the work that we are doing…even looking forward to interacting with us and being on the show…we get a lot of tellers who say, “Hey, all my friends are on TAS. I’d like to be able to…”(Sean laughs)….and what a delight for us to have been embraced so warmly by the community.
Sean: Yeah, that is….what does…what is a typical hour look like for you guys these days? What is the kind of the ratio between the presentation of story versus the interview section?
Sam: Our show is an hour long. We will generally dedicate, oh, twenty minutes of that hour, roughly a third, to an interviews segment if we have one. The rest of either recorded….well, recorded work….
Sam: …that people have submitted or that we have gone out and captured live. The typical episode is either dedicated to the work of a particular teller or a particular theme. The episodes are arranged by theme except for every Wednesday we do what’s called a “jambalaya episode” so that is kind of ….
Sean: …oh, that makes sense….
Sam: …yeah, that is just the kind of mix of stories that we love.
Sean: …..that you saw, that you listened to before. Yeah, that is exciting. So, here I am at the conference and you guys have invaded with your lovely green shirts…. (Sam laughs)….and your Apple Seeds on the back, like a tag team of roving professionals…so, what are you doing here, beyond just observing but it sounds like you are doing recording…
Sam: (laughs) Well, this is a wonderful environment to do a lot of different things. One of the, one of the ways we are having fun is we’re getting to meet in person a lot of the tellers that we’ve only communicated with on the phone. A lot of people that we’ve had wonderful interview experiences with, and things like that, we haven’t met. This is a great opportunity for us meet a lot of our favorite folks that we’ve already interacted with on the air and on the radio. But, of course, we are also recording as much as we can here. We are getting a lot of the stage work of the tellers who are here today. And, and it is just a great opportunity for us to form relationships in this community, this wonderful community of storytellers.
Sean: The relationship piece, of course, is important everywhere but with this…I’ll tell you, with this community, having been involved with it as long as I have, it really is about the relationship. So, the value of you showing up will probably be bigger than you even know. They’re “people” people. And, looking you in the eye and seeing you and goofing around with you about your shirts (Sam laughs) is so important to that.
Who is here, besides yourself, Sam? Who’s here?
Sam: Our whole team is here. The team, it consists of myself, of course, I am the host. Andy Bay, who is our producer and then we have two, three student producers with us here. One of…Sam Thomson who is our engineer…
Sean: I met him…..
Sam: ….Sam Bennion, who is one of our producers….and Whitney Snow who is one of our producers as well…so yeah, we are three “Sams” here. Of the five of us, three of us are named “Sam.” (laughs)
Sean: That’s very funny. I think my contact may have been a “Sam” and I didn’t realize how many of them…you know, you can “swing a cat” and hit a Sam….
Sean Buvala with the Storyteller.net Amphitheater talking to Sam Payne about The Apple Seed program. Have you talked to all the people you want to talk to? What’s growing in your brain there? What’s that seed still…..
Sam: When we launched, I mean, it’s almost laughable now, but when we launched we wondered if we would have to…if we would run the well dry. You know, we wondered how many people were doing this, were doing quality work on the storytelling stage…and wondering if, in fact, that supply was going to run out. And, it has been precisely the opposite. We ran through all of the people that we knew of and could get a hold of but that just sort of….for every door that we opened, six more doors opened…
Sam: …and now we just…I mean you should see the workspace at BYU radio there for us. It’s just….it went from a hundred CDs to five hundred CDs to, you know….They are everywhere! Storytellers are everywhere!
Sean: Yeah. And you know, a lot of folks that have been doing this for a while, and as the community gets older, there is a lot of…. Many of us have a backlog of stuff that we still haven’t put out. You know, that there’s stuff…so there’s….worrying about running out…no.
Sean: ….I have more stuff than I can put online. (laughs) And there are dozens and dozens of people here like that, Sam. There is just so much stuff…and it’s like…here’s stuff I haven’t edited yet. Take this and go play with this. So that’s a good thing. Listen, I really appreciate talking to you, turning the table on you ‘cuz eventually you are going to be doing this to me so….
Sean: ….so I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me tonight, this late, after a long day. Thanks for your time.
Sam: Such a pleasure. Thanks for asking…this is…we appreciate the work you’re doing.
Sean: Thanks, Sam Payne, I appreciate it. Again, Sean Buvala with the Storyteller.net Amphitheater for the National Storytelling Network’s August conference here in Mesa, Arizona.
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