During the early days of what we then called the “World Wide Web,” there was a mood of “digital entrepreneurism.” Anybody with a minimum of technical skills could create a website. Later, when blogs became a thing, it got even easier. You could start your own newspaper or magazine or — when the bandwidth got better and the tools easier — audio and video. Anyone could create their own “content” and do so for fun or profit. That was the dream and a few made it a reality.

One of those was my friend David Brazeal. David grew up in Republic, Missouri, a small town just outside of Springfield in the southwest corner of the state. He earned a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and then reported news at a radio station in Jefferson City, MO.

That’s where I met him and then worked with him at Learfield Communications. David started in the newsroom but migrated to some of Learfield’s early, digital businesses. He was very good at what he did but eventually grew restless and longed to strike out on his own. His idea was to create a website that covered high school sports in his hometown.

With his wife’s blessing, he quit his very good job at a very good company and started in 2009. David has defied the odds and made his “micro-site” a critical and financial success. I think it’s safe to say he covers high schools sports in Republic better than any traditional media outlook could or would. The town does not have a radio or TV station but does have a weekly newspaper.

I don’t think I could begin to describe the breadth and depth of the content on his site. If you are even remotely interested in what he’s doing, spend 10 or 15 minutes on the website. If you’re still interested, you might enjoy listening to the interview below. Runs about 35 minutes.

Missouri Death Row Audio

In the late ’90s I created a website called A Missourinet reporter had served as a witness (while covering) of every execution going back to 1989. There was no death row website because a) the web was still pretty new at the time and b) the Missouri Department of Corrections went to some lengths to avoid the term “death row,” even though prisoners sentenced to — and awaiting — execution were housed together.

At each execution, a packet of information was handed out to reporters and a stack of those were gathering dust in the Missourinet newsroom. News Director Bob Priddy and I began putting that information online and it quickly became the de facto site for information about capital punishment in Missouri. I maintained the site until I retired in 2012.

The site included a page with some of the history of capital punishment, including audio recorded by Missourinet reporters. As of this writing, much of that audio is no longer available on the site. The site was moved a few times, different servers, different platforms… files get misplaced or lost. My buddy Phil Atkinson did his best to find some of those and I’ve archived them here.

Missouri hasn’t executed anyone in a couple of years but they had quite run at one point. The audio includes post-execution news conferences, interviews with victims’ families, opponents and proponents, and the condemned.

Learfield affiliate conference call

In 1984 I went to work for Learfield Communications. At that time the company operated state and regional radio networks and had recently switched from delivering that audio programming by satellite (from land lines). Among other responsibilities, I did affiliate relations which meant keeping our affiliate radio stations happy. One of the big technical challenges in those early days was the quality of our satellite audio feeds. Really bad with some of our networks. In an effort to address these concerns I set up a closed circuit conference call — sometime in the late ‘80s — during which engineers from our affiliate stations could call in and ask questions of our technical staff. Kent Malinowski was head of our satellite division (Mark Lucas and Cathy Zeiler worked with him); and Charlie Peters, Learfield’s chief engineer)

I’m archiving the audio of this call here for posterity. No idea who might ever listen to this bit of Learfield history (or why).

Part 1-30 min

Part 2-23 min

Part 1 (30 min) – Part 2 (30 min) [It might be necessary to download these mp3 files before listening]

On the Media: Digital Dark Age

What if, either by the slow creep of technological obsolescence or sudden cosmic disaster, we were cut off from our electronic records?

Preventing a NASA Dark Age – NASA’s archives faced technological extinction, until a series of happy accidents allowed Keith Cowing to rescue the iconic photograph, Earthrise.

Vint Cerf and our uncertain digital future – Four decades after he co-developed one of the protocols that made the internet a reality, Vint Cerf is worried about our digital future.

The solar flare scenario – Could a solar flare cause a digital meltdown? Brooke speaks with Lucianne Walkowicz, astronomer at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium, about the sun’s power to affect our electrical grid.

Surviving a solar flare – Rocky Rawlins created the Survivor Library in preparation for a solar flare taking us back to a pre-digital age.

The storage potential of DNA – Paper burns. Bits rot. CDs decay. But DNA can last tens of thousands of years. That’s why researchers in England have developed a way to code digital data into the code of life.

Operation Digital Data Rescue – A guide to moving your data from those obsolete cassettes, tapes and even floppy disks to somewhere you can actually use them.

Link to podcast

Fortunate Son

I recently heard a bluesy/jazzy version of CCR’s Fortunate Son. The uke chords seemed to be within my limited range so I’ve been amusing myself (and our two dogs). This afternoon I took a break to fiddle around with Garageband. This sounds nothing like the cover that got me started. Submitted here for your amusement.

What if you could be remembered forever?

“What if all the important events, adventures and thoughts in your life would be accessible to future generations, who never met the real you? collects almost everything that you create during your lifetime, and processes this huge amount of information using complex Artificial Intelligence algorithms. Then it generates a virtual YOU, an avatar that emulates your personality and can interact with, and offer information and advice to your family and friends, even after you pass away.”

I heard about this service from a segment of the On the Media podcast (link below). Evan Carroll is co-author of “Your Digital Afterlife.” I signed up for the service, which doesn’t seem to have launched yet.