The Producers: "Assignment: Radio" And Life After Graduation
The theme of this episode of Assignment: Radio is “Firsts”. So, what better way to end it than with the first host of the show?
Assignment: Radio producer Meredith Everitt speaks with Arash Davari about radio, life and graduation.
Everitt: I have to say, I’m a little excited right now. I've heard all of your episodes (because I did the archives) and it’s kind of weird hear your voice matched with your face!
Davari: Yeah, I’d like to apologize too, for what you had to go through, listening to all those old episodes, from a guy that didn’t know what he was doing.
Everitt: Actually, I listened to literally every episode of Assignment: Radio ever (and we’ve been doing this since the fall of 2004) and I have to say, actually, I was inspired by your style.
Davari: Oh, really?
Everitt: Yeah, because you had a really conversational style.
Davari: Yeah, mostly because I didn’t know what I was doing.
Everitt: Maybe that’s a good thing. It’s like that quote from Picasso, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up" ?
Davari: Yeah, it was definitely a learning experience. It was a lot fun. So, thank you…that’s very nice to hear.
Everitt: Could you tell me the story of how you got involved in Assignment: Radio?
Davari: Sure, basically I was looking for a summer job. I think, if I remember correctly, I was just looking on the OU jobs website for student jobs and came across some positions that were affiliated with the Journalism college. So, I applied for what was actually a sort of drive-time newscaster type thing. Whenever “All Things Considered” was on, we’d have these little breaks where we would jump in with Oklahoma news and traffic updates, you know, around five o’clock. I applied for that and this guy, Scott Gurian (who was the News Director at the time) got back to me and he was like, “Hey man, you look from your resume that you’d be a good fit.”
Davari: So, I ended up getting the job. The training process, they would have me sitting in an adjacent room while Scott was actually doing the live show and I would read off the same script that he was reading, but it was into the mic that was recording into the computer. But, I could never talk straight. I would always stumble over my words. You know, I wasn’t cutting it, wasn’t good enough.
Davari: I don’t remember if it was Karen [Holp] or Scott, but they came to me and they were like “Hey listen, we’re starting this sort of student news radio show thing. Would you be interested in doing that? That way you don’t have to deal with the live radio aspect and you can kind of get into the studio and do as many takes as you need and kind of get more exposure to editing software and things like that. It actually ended up being pretty cool. It was a good move. My inability to talk straight apparently ended up being beneficial for me in the long-run!
Everitt: Sometimes it works out! I don’t know if I could do live. I don’t know, I’ve never done it.
Davari: Yeah, you know…it wasn’t even a nervous thing. It was weird, but I’ll tell you (this is actually pretty funny) when I would try to read the piece of paper normally, in my normal voice, I would inevitably stumble on some words, but if I spoke in some kind of like, cowboy voice or some kind of accent, I would never have an issue.
Everitt: Interesting! [laughs]
Davari: But of course, I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t be a proper radio man talking with like, a cowboy accent.
Everitt: You know, I mean, whatever works. Seriously…if it worked, nobody would know. Because they don’t know what you really sound like. But, I mean, obviously you got this under control for Assignment: Radio. I didn’t hear any stuttering or messed up words.
Everitt: But, another thing I noticed during your time on Assignment: Radio was the use of music. Throughout the episodes that you did I would be like, “Oh that’s a good song. Ooh that’s a good song.”
Davari: Yeah that was a little of me and Scott. As far as my taste in music, you know, I listen to a lot of rock music so that’s definitely where I was drawing most of my music from. But, Scott, he listened to a lot of different stuff. Some stuff, I would say and I don’t mean this in a… I’m not trying to be mean, but it was weird to me. It was different. You know? It was strange to me that someone listened to such…. you know me and my friends listened to rock or some of them listened to rap, and he was listening to all this different world music and stuff. It was cool.
Davari: So, he would loan me CDs and I would pick these little snippets out of it for transitions and stuff. So, that was Scott Gurian’s lasting impact on my life.
Everitt: Props to Scott Gurian once again! My music tends to go towards the electronic end of the spectrum. I use a lot of that. I don’t know, something about it just makes it feel (like when you have your own music) it’s almost as fun to put the music together as it is to put the show together.
Davari: Yeah! That was just as fun to me as the interviewing and putting the stories together, was actually piecing the show together and using music. And you know, doing the editing and sort of I don’t know, getting into the technical side of things.
Everitt: Speaking of interviews… do you have a favorite memory of an interview, or a horrible memory of an interview gone wrong?
Davari: There was never an interview that went really horribly wrong (maybe I’ve blacked it out or something). But, in 2004 there was an election so I interviewed my mom, which is kind of maybe a cop-out to a degree, but she had an interesting perspective growing up in Iran and then coming to the States, too.
Everitt: Yeah, I remember that. Wasn’t she emphasizing the importance of voting?
Davari: Yes, she was very passionate about that. She felt very strongly that people should exercise that right that we have. So, you know, it was a little bit of a cop out, but I also thought she had a very interesting perspective.
Everitt: So, this is my last show….ever.
Davari: Really? The sign-off?
Everitt: This is my very last show. And I am not going to get all saccharine, but… I am sad. I am very bummed.
Davari: How long have you been doing this?
Everitt: Two years…
Davari: Two years? Ok.
Everitt: But, do you have any… I know it’s a little corny, but do you have any words of wisdom for me?
Davari: As far as….the show goes? Or just in general, life in general? What do you want? Tell me…
Everitt: I guess I should specify. Uh, I guess I don’t really know what I want. That’s the problem.
Davari: That’s…. I can relate. It’s ok.
Everitt: You know what it’s like to have this… like, it’s a cool gig, right? I mean it’s an awesome, fun job. And I guess I’m a little daunted, by looking outside. You know?
Davari: Looking beyond….what is out there after Assignment: Radio? Nothing! Nothing of worth.
Everitt: [laughs] Oh gosh…
Davari: No, I’m just joking. I will say that after just college in general I mean…. there is a lot of time for you to do a lot of things. My biggest problem in college was, I stressed out about the next step, without understanding that there’s not just one next step. Like, I don’t just graduate from college and then I do one thing for the next 60 years and then I die. You know? I had a problem wrapping my head around that. You know, I graduated at 23 years old.
Davari: So, there’s a lot of time to do a number of things. Whatever ends up being next for you, try it out for a little while. Maybe it’s awesome and you do it forever and maybe it’s ok and you find something else to do after that. So that’s…maybe you already have that mentality…
Everitt: No! That’s actually really good advice. Because I do have the former mentality, where I feel like no matter what door I open, all the other doors are closing, as if you only get one door. I think that’s kind of built into you in high school especially, where there’s so much emphasis on getting good grades and getting into the right college. There’s a sort of rubric for success, that if you have these things you will be successful.
Everitt: I’m entering either broadcasting or film and I love them both equally…. it does, it feels like I have to choose between them and I can’t! They’re both just so fascinating. So, I love that. I’m going to try to use that as my mantra, that this isn’t the only step.
Davari: Right. Exactly. You can do broadcast for a while, do film for a while, flip it, visa-versa. Or, you could do one of them and then something else comes along and you’re like, you know what? That would be awesome. And it’s not at all related to what you were doing previously.
Everitt: Like, I discover a passion for taxidermy? Just one day I realize, “How did I not see that?”
Davari: Yeah, like one day you find yourself in an Elk’s Lodge and you see all these awesome moose heads or all these full-sized bears and you’re like, “I love that. I want that. I want to create that!”?
Everitt: [laughing] I don’t know why I chose that as my fantasy hypothetical career change… because that’s so horrifying to me!
Davari: No, it is. It was a good pull. It was random enough but also accessible enough for it to be funny.
Everitt: Thank you! Well said. And thank you for coming. I really appreciate it and I hope you’ve enjoyed coming back to the KGOU family.
Davari: No thank you. I was thrilled when you got in touch with me. So I jumped at the chance to come back and talk about the old days. It’s good stuff, for sure.
To everyone who has supported KGOU or tuned in to Assignment: Radio these past two years I also would like to thank you. It has been an incredible time in my life and I can’t believe it’s over. It’s bittersweet because I’m grateful to have learned so much here, but it is really hard to leave the family I found at KGOU. Every person at that station has helped me, encouraged me, and given great advice.
I would like to specifically thank Jim Johnson, Karen Holp and Brian Hardzinski, for teaching me everything I know about radio, and for helping me find my voice when I wasn’t quite sure what it would sound like.