My name is Adam and I have been recently tasked with interviewing a media figure for a journalism class. Since I was unable to contact the Watson’s girl, I am hoping that you can help me out. I have been a long-time and appreciative viewer of J&B on the ROX. The new episodes are excellent. J&B on the ROX was one of the important elements that made Bloomington a great place in the past (it’s kind of sad to watch the old episodes as so much has changed, Bloomington’s just not the same anymore), and I am happy to see you currently working your magic in New Orleans. You guys are living legends, folk heroes, and an inspiration to us all (this ass-kissing will definitely get a response).
Please answer as many of these as you want to. Feel free to elaborate.
1. What first motivated or inspired you to make ROX?
We thought it would be big silly fun to make our own weekly TV show. We had no idea how it would come to shape our lives.
2. What is the current state of ROX? How is it broadcast?
These days most people probably see ROX via Free Speech TV, which is broadcast via satellite on the Dish Network. Of course we’re still on the internet and a few cable access stations (including our first and favorite TV station, BCAT or CATS or whatever they’re calling it in Bloomington now).
3. What goes into the production/editing of an episode? How much time does it take?
Editing is by far the most time-consuming part of our production process. Back during our third season it took about 40 hours to edit a single show. Now that we’re fully digital I think it may take longer but I no longer clock my editing time so carefully so I’m not sure. It certainly feels longer because I’m generally not able to sit down and edit for eight hours straight, so I’m grabbing an hour here, an hour there.
4. In ’95, ROX was heralded as the first TV show in cyberspace by TIME magazine. What are some of the pros and cons of broadcasting independent media on the internet?
There was no YouTube in 1995, so one of the big challenges was that we were wrestling with the technology every step of the way. Video clips had to be massively compressed, and computing power was in short supply. We had to set a computer to crunch files overnight. And since we didn’t have a computer that could do that, we had to beg, borrow and steal from others.
5. What is your opinion of the current state of professional/commercial television and mass media in general?
Despite amazing technical advances, commercial television remains a vast wasteland. Cinematography is vastly improved, the writing is more sophisticated, yet television remains a morally bankrupt medium. I’m particularly troubled by the popularity of “crime fantasy” shows like CSI. I think they’re symptomatic of some very deep issues in our society. Of course the trend of media consolidation continues at an alarming rate. Here’s the latest. [Hat tip to the American Zombie.]
6. What are some of the challenges involved in making ROX?
One of our biggest challenges today is the 2000-odd miles between J and I. We don’t see each other every day or even talk every week any more, and that makes it a little more difficult for ideas to just well up spontaneously. Also, we’re both very busy these days. We both have full-time jobs now. J and Day have a little boy, and Xy and I are expecting a child in the spring. Add in the challenges of living in post-Katrina New Orleans and renovating our flooded home, and it doesn’t leave a lot of time for television production.
7. What are some of the rewards?
The primary reward is the satisfaction of seeing a narrative you’ve constructed unfold, and sharing that with others.
8. What are the future plans for ROX?
Right now we’re just struggling to complete this season (our fourth). Actually we’re struggling to get started on the next episode. A friend of mine, filmmaker Helen Hill, was murdered in January just after we finished our last episode of ROX. I knew our next episode would have to account for Helen in some way, and frankly that’s just been overwhelming.
I would like to thank you in advance for reading this e-mail. If you decide not to respond, I would like to NOT thank you as I will be scrambling to contact some Clear Channel radio jerk. Either way, thanks for your time and thanks also for all of the years of ROX. I really appreciate it, seriously.