Intro from Jay Allison: This piece comes from the Transom Story Workshop Spring 2014. The students came from all over to spend two months with us on Cape Cod. Rob Rosenthal and Audrey Quinn led the class and were joined by all of us at Transom, plus Robert Krulwich, Nancy Updike, and a lot of other great producers who happened by. Check out their work. If these are beginners, look out.
I was on my third strike when I made this piece — I had already tried to investigate two separate stories about suicide and heroin on the Cape and Islands, but swung and missed both times after several hours of phone calls, driving, and getting rejected by the people I wanted to talk to. So Rob suggested Moulty to me — he pitched it as: rock star drummer, with a hook (literally), looking for true love. I obliged, begrudgingly; I didn’t want to make a story that wasn’t “mine,” and not only did I not think of the idea, my classmate Annie had already found his number, business website, and even his marital history. (She almost went with this story when one of her ideas went sour.) But I really needed a story, so I took it.
Moulty was a difficult guy from the very beginning. Not mean — just firm. When I called him, he wanted to do a 15-minute interview in a cafe, which was just not a possibility for a decent radio piece. So I pressed him for an hour in his home. We compromised at 45 minutes in his car at Plymouth Harbor, about halfway between Woods Hole and his house south of Boston. When we met up for the interview, he wanted to keep the windows down, leave the air conditioner on, and only talk for 10-15 minutes. I can get kind of anxious in situations like that, but I stayed strong and told him that we needed to roll the windows up, turn off the A/C, and talk for the agreed-upon 45 minutes. Instead of getting mad, he respected my steadfastness and took a liking to me. We ended up talking for three-and-a-half hours, about finding true love, but also about his philosophy of love and life, the painful history of losing his hand, and even some advice that he had for me as a young man looking for my special someone. If I didn’t have those three-and-a-half hours (and the insight into Moulty that I got from being with him for that long), this would be a totally different piece. And it probably would have sucked.
So I guess my takeaway is: Ask for what you need, because you’re likely to get it, and maybe even more than you could have ever hoped for.
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Alex’s Sonic ID
As soon as I met Rocky, I knew that I had to get him on tape. He owns a gym where I went to take photos during our day with Amanda Kowalski, and he was a ball of energy. He’s a boxing trainer named Rocky who sounds exactly like the trainer from the movie Rocky — it was all too perfect. He’s a really great guy, too. Even though I didn’t really get a story out of him, I’m glad we were able to talk for an hour or so.