Chewelah library bringing novel to the airwaves

Chewelah library bringing novel to the airwaves

(BRANDON HANSEN/Chewelah Independent)

You might have a newer radio than the one from the Chewelah Museum, but the concept is the same: tune into 102.7 FM and listen to the soothing tones of Bryan Tidwell as he reads “The City of Ember.” (Brandon Hansen photo)

READING RADIO: Chewelah Library’s Bryan Tidwell reading “The City of Ember” on KCHW…

It was common back in the day for families to gather around the radio and listen to stories and broadcasts before TV and the Kardashians took over.

Well, Chewelah being its usual hipster self is getting back to basics, thanks to a partnership between the Libraries of Stevens County and KCHW Northern Lights Public Radio.
Chewelah Public Library Manager Bryan Tidwell will be reading the acclaimed novel :The City of Ember” beginning on Nov. 3 and running for 14 episodes every Sunday beginning at 8 a.m. Each episode lasts 20-30 minutes, usually encompassing a chapter or two of the story.

So how did Tidwell choose “The City of Ember”? Well it’s not an easy process.

“I read a lot of books to my own children, so I lean on that experience, but we’re really looking hard for a book that is both fun to listen to and fun to read aloud,” he said. “I know that if I’m having fun when I’m reading it, the story will resonate with anyone that’s listening.”

There is also the slight hiccup of getting the permission of the book’s author to read the book on the radio.

“I’ve been turned down by a number of estates and publishers,” Tidwell said.

But “The City of Ember” author Jeanne DuPrau was supportive of what Tidwell and KCHW is doing in Stevens County.

“I thought it was the perfect adventure story that would resonate with listeners here,” Tidwell said. The City of Ember has a lot in common with the communities here: hardworking people who care about each other and lift each other up.”

The City of Ember was published in 2003 and has inspired sequels, a graphic novel and a major motion picture. It is set in a mysterious city whose citizens believe is alone in a great dark world.

Energy supplies begin to run low and shortages become more common as two youths, Lina and Doon, come together to try and save their city.

Will they do it before the lights go out and they’re all plunged into darkness? Well you will have to listen to Tidwell on KCHW to find out.

This is the second such book series that the Chewelah Library has done on KCHW and Scott Allen Schlafman has been invaluable providing technical help with the production.

“KCHW has been an incredible partner in this effort. Scott Allen has coached me through all the technical knowledge I needed to gain to pull this off, and he gifted the studio time to make it happen,” Tidwell said. “It’s safe to say that this couldn’t have happened without our community being blessed by having its own public radio station. And future shows look like a huge possibility, especially with the Chewelah Kiwanis putting funding into children’s programming on KCHW.”

The Chewelah Kiwanis donated a large grant so the show could be produced and aired.

“I’m so grateful for all that this community has done to rally around all of the things we offer from the Libraries of Stevens County both inside and outside of Chewelah,” Tidwell said.
The library manager has to carefully record the entire book, which includes studying ahead of time to make sure he is consistent with the voices and pacing.

“It usually takes me a number of sessions to get it all recorded, and then the editing process begins,” Tidwell said. “I usually re-record as I go, so much of the editing work is just pulling out duplicate phrases and minimizing any coughs or errors. Once I have a series of clean, raw files to work with, I do any final editing, cut it into episodes and then process it to give it a nice, clean sound and balance.”

Schlafman overlays the closing and opening musical pieces and then gets it slotted into the radio station’s computer system.

“Our main goal is just to create a fun program that people will enjoy listening to,” Tidwell said. “We try really hard to provide programs of all types at libraries all over Stevens County. But we also recognize how difficult it is to travel around here, and that people are busy with a lot of different activities already.”

Tidwell said the hope with the radio program is to bring novels directly to families of Stevens County.

“I was really pleased with the response we got from last year’s program, and I hope that people will continue to come together to listen,” Tidwell said. “It’s also been wonderful to be able to create a public partnership with other community groups that are providing great things to Stevens County.”

Closing his interview with The Independent, Tidwell pointed out that reading out loud and learning to listen are vital skills that children need to grow. A radio program like this can help, but Tidwell encouraged parents to read to their own children more.

“Reading out loud doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to be a performance and it can be any story that resonates with a child,” he said. “So a huge thanks to all the hardworking moms, dads, grandparents and others in our community who take the time to inspire a love for stories by reading to children. Thanks for all you do! Your library will always be here to support you!”