so many sources of entertainment growing throughout the state, its
hard for those seeking it out to keep track of everything that's
going on all at once, even to those involved. And the difficult
balancing act of trying to promote and document while keeping ahead
of it all can be a daunting one. But a website based out of Weber
County is doing its best to keep pace.
The Local Landing has been a hotspot for local entertainment, mainly musicians, to promote their works on a centralized source. Operating out of Ogden the website showcased dozens of bands, artists and filmmakers from around northern Utah, eventually gaining a following by the KWCR radio show and a revitalized website. Now the crew are forming partnerships across the northern region and reasserting themselves as a source for all things local entertainment. I got a chance to chat with two of the men behind it all about their careers, the website and the show, as well as what they're doing now and thoughts on the local music.
Flip Doogans & MacArthur
Gavin: Hey guys! First thing, tell us a bit about yourselves.
MacArthur: I'm a senior in the Psychology program at Weber State University. I like to travel, six countries spread across two continents, I read alot of classic literature, write some fiction in between other projects, and am a big Utah Jazz fan, woot!
Flip: I was born and raised here in Ogden (or thereabout). Weber State graduate, probable nerd, new father, impatient driver, and general rabble-rouser.
Gavin: What drew you to local entertainment and being involved with that aspect of the community?
MacArthur: Well, me and Flip had both decided to participate in the radio DJ class up at WSU. This class is excellent in that it gives students hands on experience talking "on air", not to mention behind the scenes access. From that point, I moved on to co-host The Local Landing show while it was on 88.1 WeberFM and eventually on to other things. But partly what has kept me interested in Utah's local entertainment is the eccentricity of some local celebrities. The Gorgeous Hussies, The Soul Shakers, Alex Castle, Bill Allred, Portia Early, the local film maker's Solar Shock Pictures, etc. All have that more unique creative personality that is one of the defining characteristics of being an artist. But at the same time, it makes these people fun to interact with.
Flip: I've become gradually more and more immersed in the local scene since I started as a DJ at Weber State. Some of the people I've met along the way have helped to solidify my interest in the scene, and it seems to change just enough to keep me constantly interested.
Gavin: How did the two of you eventually meet and become friends?
MacArthur: Back in 2004, we both "worked" at the same job. But when I say work, I mean that we largely screwed around. After a couple years we realized we shared the same sort of "outside the box" kind of thinking not to mention a similar work ethic. But more personally, Flip is the kind of guy who would road trip to a comic connvention with me while my jaw was wired shut, only to watch me make an ass out of myself in front of Stan Lee the second I got there. Or who would get up on stage and co-host a show with me, even though things weren't going too well.
Flip: That sums it up pretty well. Stan Lee didn't know what to think of the guy with the metal jaw shouting incoherently at him. I think I got that on tape...
Gavin: Where did the idea to start up the website come from, and what was it like putting it together?
MacArthur: After volunteering at 88.1 WeberFM for several years, as well as starting a club at Weber State, we had reached a point where we felt it was time to expand our operation to the next level. Consequently, this meant distancing ourselves from the university and establishing our own identity. After much brainstorming we decided that a website was the most economically feasible way of doing that. Flip has fairly extensive website design capabilities and I'm no slouch myself. With that said, the creation and organization of the website is an ongoing experimental process. Some ideas work, and some don't, but we try them all and let the public decide if they have potential or not.
Flip: Our goal with the website is to be able to give the local artists we've met or been in contact with a better way to showcase their music. The same applies for other artists as well, not just musicians. There is a really powerful art culture in our area, we're just hoping to increase awareness of it.
Gavin: What was that first year like having the website up and running, and reporting on all those events yourselves?
Flip: Our first year was incredibly productive, and the website has come a long way from where it started. We've had help getting local events covered from a few different reviewers in that time, and have done what we can ourselves to cover what's going on, but being able to give the kind of coverage we want to has been a challenge.
Gavin: What's the process like for you and others involved in getting the information out?
Flip: First, it's a matter of getting information IN. We try to encourage as many local acts as we can to promote their events through our site, which helps us decide what we will cover. Anyone registered for the site can also upload their work, whether its music, video, event reviews, or just about anything else. From there, we review what's been submitted and make any necessary formatting changes, then publish directly to the site where everyone can see it.
Gavin: How did the idea for taking over the radio show come about? And what was it like first starting it up and getting that kind of exposure across the area?
Flip: The Local Landing began as a radio show in 2001. It was started by Jordan Olsen (Rick Darby) and Mary Duclose and there were quite a few other hosts over the years until I took over in 2006. The name and the show were already established, so when we took over we were able to focus mainly on expanding the influence and to start bringing in bands for live interviews and performances as often as possible.
Gavin: What were some of your favorite moments from the time it was on?
MacArthur: Probably our last show was my favorite. A lot of people called in to wish us luck and simultaneously complain about the gap our absence would create in the local community. Some of the people were listeners, others old guests, some friends, but either way it was nice to know they cared.
Flip: I always like having guests in the studio. We'd usually feature bands, but we also had local filmmakers and other people involved with the arts scene in some aspect come in and do interviews with us.
Gavin: What eventually led to the end of the show? And have you ever thought of bringing it back somewhere else?
Flip: Like MacArthur said earlier, we had been working on a way to establish ourselves outside of 88.1 for a few months, and when the time came we parted ways. We are currently working on the launch of our internet radio station that will feature music from Utah exclusively, and we plan to host a show similar to what we did on KWCR that will feature the newest music we receive each week.
Gavin: Recently you formed a partnership with Studio 801. How did that come about and what are you both working to do?
MacArthur: We'd previously worked with Jason Rodriguez, the owner of Studio 801, through his affiliation with The Soul Shakers, a local hip hop group. Recently, we agreed with Jason that the studio may be our best bet at kicking off the internet radio version of The Local Landing Show. And as per usual, the primary goal is to advertise the "scene."
Flip: Working with Studio 801 also gives us a chance to offer another type of service to the local artists we work with, as well as to local businesses and other people looking to record audio for any reason.
Gavin: You've also expanded into helping out local bands in different forms from press kits to online services. What inspired the move to help bands out in this way?
Flip: Though we've been focused heavily on the website for the last year or so, we've also been making plans to offer these other services as a way to further promote the scene. A lot of the artists we've met have been of a mindset that they would rather focus on their work, and often don't have the time or the know-how to get their work to the most effective outlets, or to drum up interest in their events. This is where we're hoping to come in and offer some services that will help artists promote themselves without having to take their attention away from practicing and perfecting their work.
Gavin: With the way you've expanded and grown over time, what would you say the long term goal for the website is now?
MacArthur: We've been thinking long term since before the creation of the website. Part of the reason we decided to focus on the internet medium is because a website is capable of long term expansion. Right now we're specifically targeting Utah, and we always will. However, and without giving too much away, our long term goals concern nationalization. Think Twitter and Facebook combined. Somewhat similar to that, but not too similar. Yes, I am being intentionally vague right now.
Flip: Ideally, we can help to increase awareness of the scene as it stands now and keep people that are interested up-to-date with how its changing. I've heard a lot of people complain that there's "never anything to do around here". My long term goal is to get those people to shut up, or at least to make sure they know someone who knows better so that person can shut them up for me.
Gavin: A bit state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?
MacArthur: 70% of it's bad, 15% is so/so, and 15% is good. Not to sound too harsh, but part of what makes a good musician great is their drive and ability to persevere despite all obstacles and/or criticism. That's just the reality of the situation. When I say a band sucks, it doesn't mean I'm insulting the style of music or message of the band, it means they played their instruments like novices, or they couldn't write a lyric to save their lives, or the band didn't mesh well together. These mistakes are correctable, and should be treated as only minor problems, not unsolvable math equations.
Flip: I think there are a lot of incredibly talented people playing music in Utah, and at the same time there's a lot of noise being made. From what I've seen, though, the people that are dedicated to doing it well will eventually find a way to do so, even if that means going through a few different bands and a solo venture or two to get there.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it bigger or better?
Flip: Awareness and participation. Like I've said, a lot of people simply don't seem to know how many events are happening all the time. The best thing that could happen to the local scene would be for people to stop equating "local" with "under par" and give some of the acts we have a real listen.
Gavin: What's your opinion on the current airplay on community radio these days and how its affecting local artists?
Flip: There are a few stations around that seem to be making an honest effort to include and support more local music in their playlists. The problem is that each station is confined to their format, and only allowed or only willing to play certain types of music. Usually, the local exposure on those stations is further limited to a few hours per week or sporadically throughout the day. We're hoping to be able to provide a place for Utah's musicians to be broadcast regardless of what type of music they make.
Gavin: Who would you say are some of your favorite acts in the scene right now?
MacArthur: The Soul Shaker's are definitely up there. Kaotic, The Codi Jordan Band and We're Petrified! as well. Honorable mentions to John Irving, Melody Pulsipher, Liz Woolley, Higher Than Pope, Buddha Pie and Kirkland Ross.
Flip: The Gorgeous Hussies come to mind immediately. Also, Pleasant Tree, Fox Van Cleef, Alex Castle, and a long list of others. My favorite thing to see from a local act is enthusiasm with what they're doing, and it's nice to constantly find more people who are doing just that.
Gavin: What's your take on our local labels. And do you believe they help or hinder artists?
MacArthur: It depends on the label's primary goals. Is it to spread awareness about a good band throughout the community? Or is it JUST to make money? I mean, of course making money is a big part of the process, but churning out mainstream pop music doesn't encourage musicians to become better at what they do while at the same time pop culture music is making us all a little bit stupider.
Gavin: What can we expect from you the rest of the year and going into next?
Flip: The website will continue to operate as it has. We're also focusing a lot on getting our internet radio station up and running, and once it is, we'll work on loading it with as much of Utah's music as we can, as well as guest DJ's and specialty programming.
Gavin: Aside the obvious, is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Flip: Aside from the website and radio station, we're also expanding our operations to offer more promotional services to bands and artists to help them get the word out about their shows. We also consult with local businesses to help them increase their online presence and maximize their website's efficiency in attracting new customers. As far as specific plugs, I would like to remind all the local artists (of all kinds) out there that we're always glad to get exposure to new music, video, or whatever else you're doing. Uploading to the site is easy, and just in case you haven't caught a wiff of the technology these days, you can even snail mail us your work if you like, so there's really nothing stopping anyone from getting their work out.