I have been an actor, director, fight choreographer,
non-profit administrator, secret shopper for a fast food chain, emcee,
stilt-walker and, ultimately, new media producer/host/writer.
I spent 20 years working in professional theatre. I had a
pretty good run. I worked at some of this country’s leading regional theatres;
such as Seattle’s A Contemporary Theatre and San Diego Repertory Theatre. I worked with some
of this country’s leading theatre artists; such as JoAnne Akalaitis and Philip
Glass. I acted, directed, taught, coached and choreographed fights. I
never got rich or famous, but made my living working in the theatre more often
than not. I figure that’s an accomplishment in and of itself. What I didn't know then, is that my theatre career set me up perfectly for my current career. To this day, I remain in the business of communicating stories to an audience. Only the venues have changed. The amazing part is how I got from there to here.
Back in my "working actor" days, I never wanted to wait tables between gigs. So,
I developed skills that would allow me to work in the theatre, even if it meant
doing so in an administrative role. I wrote grants and press releases,
developed and managed budgets, planned seasons, asked people for money and oversaw production. I
usually had a staff job at one theatre, while acting or directing at another.
So, when my wife and I decided to make a lifestyle change and start a family, I
shifted into non-profit arts administration full-time.
We moved back to my hometown of Charlottesville, VA in 2001,
had our first child in 2003 and I became the Executive Director of First Night
Virginia, an annual arts festival. I immediately began to lead this grassroots
festival towards professional arts organization. I spearheaded a
massive re-branding and strategic
planning effort, developed a cohesive marketing plan, and specific programming
initiatives that served the organization’s artistic mission while supporting
Then in 2006 my second and third children were born. We
didn’t know we were having twins. In fact, until my son was born we didn’t even
know my daughter existed. Undiagnosed twins are unusual to say the least, and to this
day we're kind of urban legends in and around Charlottesville. Fortunately, the expansion
of my family coincided with a new opportunity professionally.
Since 2002, I had been working with a start-up called
Labrador Mobile. Labrador produced NASCAR content under the brand name Rowdy.
Rowdy was “new media” long before the term was coined. Since the company’s
founding in 2002 I had been contributing as a freelance writer and performer.
In 2006, I joined the operation full-time as a creative collaborator. My
original role was to continue to perform and write while adding a Producer
component. I learned to edit audio so I could help produce the podcast. I
learned about social media so I could activate our online community, Facebook
page and Twitter feed. I blogged. Oh, how I blogged. Most significantly,
however, I produced video.
About a year after I joined the team we realized that video,
and, more specifically, content on demand, was the future of the internet. We
knew we needed to add a video component, but none of us really had those skills. I think I must have been out of the room when it was decided that I
would head up our new video program, but I can’t say I was disappointed when I
found out. After all, my background as a performer and director was great
preparation. I already knew how to communicate story to an audience in an engaging way.
I started from scratch. I learned how to shoot and edit using Final Cut Pro,
industry standard video editing software. I thought a lot about the unique qualities required of internet-based content. With my collaborative partners, I lead
the development of new programming ideas and developed a unique look and feel
for our videos. They had an energy about them that was unlike anything else in
the NASCAR space. Still is... Quickly, the video effort that I lead became a core component
and primary focus of the business.
Rowdy has had a long and circuitous life that eventually led
us to Charlotte, NC. My friend, creative partner and Rowdy founder Tom van der
Voort has written its story much better than I could. I invite you to read that
story at his website.
For ten years I’ve been developing creative ways to
entertain and inform NASCAR fans. I do it pretty well, and I’m not done yet.