Radio Anniversary Reflections..

Saturday, November 28th, marked my 28th Anniversary of work at KIOS-FM. I started hosting radio shifts at the public radio station in November, 1992!

It has been a very rich and full multi-decade career in broadcasting, which has largely been “under the radar” due to the nature of public radio and the lack of professional recognition I have received due to various factors. So I am sufficiently inspired to begin to tell my story here–since no one else will. That’s life. So here goes.

I first felt the pull of broadcasting when I was a student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. This was back in 1988. I was working on a journalism assignment when walked into the the studios of KBLZ, the then student-operated radio station. Shortly thereafter, I started volunteering at the lively small studio for airshifts as an announcer and a jazz host.

Initially I was scared almost beyond my wits when I first went on-air. Fortunately, I quickly overcame this impediment and started to do the hard work of daily airshifts and fill in assignments. A year or so later I was able to secure an overnight airshift at the UNO public radio station KVNO-FM. Oh man, those were the days–working from midnight to 7am, getting into the real nitty gritty of learning my trade in the middle of the night, the hard way. At that time I also introduced myself to music of jazz trumpet icon Miles Davis, which turned me into a jazz fan overnight. I devoured the station’s record library, until one fateful morning I listened to Billie Holiday for the first time. Her great recording Lady in Satin. At 6am, in the cue channel. I fell in love with her music right away. And my exploration of all things jazz continued, and continues, into the present day.

I hosted the KVNO Fusion Jazz Show for two years before I graduated from UNO. In November, 1992 I was hired on as a Saturday night board operator and host at KIOS-FM. Interestingly, the radio station is located in what was once Technical High School, where I was a member of the last graduating class in 1984. And, notably, the studio space occupied by the station was my homeroom when I was a senior in high school.

Following a few years of paying dues at the station, I was made the host of the program the Last Call, on Saturday nights on KIOS-FM. And I was given a slot as a host for Jazz in the Afternoon as well. I have continued as a host for those shows up until right now.

Additionally, for decades I’ve interviewed many of today’s leading jazz artists and the legends as well. Conversations with David Liebman, Roy Haynes, Horace Silver, Ramsey Lewis and other icons have given me tremendous insight into the living history of jazz music. Additionally, interviews with Matt Wilson, Patricia Barber, Paul Serrato, Karrin Allyson, Rene Marie and other contemporary artists have helped me stay in touch with the pulse of today’s jazz music.

Then there is the jazz concert. Essential for any jazz fan, for years I attended the Iowa City Jazz Festival. It was a world class festival, offering spell binding performances with luminaries such as Jane Ira Bloom, Charles Lloyd, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Kenny Garrett and countless others whose performances were unforgettable. Hopefully the festival can make a return in future years after Covid-19 has been brought under control.

Public radio to me is a light on the mountaintop that celebrates the very best-from art to quality news reporting and of course music, including jazz. I’ve gone from playing reel to reel tape programs and cart machines to digital files on a computer playlist. Things have changed but there is one important constant–the music is the message and I am only a humble servant to share this rich musical genre with you, the listener. God willing, I can continue in this capacity for many years to come. I’m grateful to be on-air as a host of America’s great musical contribution to the world—Jazz.

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I’m still here..

It’s been a while since I was on my blog. Too much work and personal drama kept me away for months. Now that I have a bit more time to spare due to some changes, I’m going to start posting again.

When I was younger I thought that by this time in my life I would be traveling, meeting new people and participating in events that would raise awareness to a more refined level. Unfortunately Covid-19 changed all that. The awesome failure of many of the governors of the United States to respond to the escalating Delta variant has made travel and even in-person gatherings a high risk activity. So I am spending most of the my time social distancing. At least I can still write, one of the things that I wanted to do more of!

As a result of amplifying global climate change, seasonal storms have become worse and strong as ever. Just last month an awful severe thunderstorm with winds in excess of 75 mph hit Omaha. Power was out for days for thousands in my city, in my neighborhood it was out for 96 hours!! And just a few weekends ago another very strong severe thunderstorm caused rapid flooding in my city. Outside my place of employment the street became a raging river. The wind blew the rain sideways.

In spite of all of this I continue, with God’s help, to aim to fully realize my potential in the world as it is. I will be here sharing with you some of the highlights of my nearly 40 years of spiritual journey and surrender to the Infinite, because that’s what I’ve been asked to do. Also I’ll post some jazz content. I have hosted jazz programming for almost three decades on local radio and have some stories to tell about jazz and my experiences at the microphone.

So stay tuned..and take care until next we meet!

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July 2020: Checking In…

I’m back in my WordPress account after a long absence. Too long, in fact.

A lot has changed since I last posted a blog!

As most people know, this year the worldwide pandemic Covid-19 has changed everyone’s lives and at a tragic cost. And I’ll say, an unnecessary one. Why? President Donald Trump. If ever anyone needed a lesson on how one man can mislead a country into a public health and economic crisis, well, we got it. And news reports that same man allowed American soldiers to be bountied by Russia  cannot be ignored or called “Fake News”. The man HAS to go, as soon as possible.

I have taken recent events as a prompt to pull back from social interaction and yes even social media because, quite frankly, I’m not being heard. Attempts to reach out to people I thought would listen to me have gone absolutely nowhere. Facebook is the slime pit of pseudo-interaction that I am seriously pulling back from right now, for my own peace of mind.

On a positive note, I recently became a Oneness blessing giver with my local Oneness group. I am profoundly grateful for this opportunity to serve people spiritually. I have trained all my life to serve in this capacity. And, nearly 40 years of daily meditation practice have served as my anchor and continue to do so as a way to wade through the chaos of this year and the political/spiritual circus in this country. More about that next time. Till then, blessings!

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Remembering Brad Steiger

Recent news that Brad Steiger died earlier this year after a long illness has left me with a deep sadness.  His books framed the beginning of my spiritual odyssey. They were the first books that I encountered to discuss the experiences of a “new age” or paranormal kind.  His written explorations of the frontiers of experience were astonishing.

Brad’s remarkable books, “Revelation: The Divine Fire” “UFOs-Gods of Aquarius” and “The Seed” changed my life, presenting concepts and discoveries that called into question most of what I had learned up to that point. They were the first introduction I had to appearances of the Virgin Mary, alleged encounters with UFOs and their occupants from other worlds, astral projection, communion with the Divine, and other topics that were way beyond the zeitgeist of mainstream Christian religious theology as I knew it as a young person in the midwest in the 1970s.

And most notably, “The Star People” with his then wife Francie Steiger, immediately appealed to me when it was published. From that moment on,  I became a spiritual seeker, outside of the walls of organized religion, following an inner light. Years later, in 1984, I was fortunate enough to meet Brad in person at an intuitive arts fair in Sedona, Arizona with his then wife Francie Steiger. Brad made an extra special effort to give me tips about various writing organizations I could join and nudged me in that direction. And his wife was my first spiritual teacher, giving me instructions for my development. Both of them gave freely of their time and offered a  very warm farewell before I left.

I next remember meeting Brad several years later in Omaha, Nebraska. He had remarried. His new wife was Sherry Hansen Steiger, an accomplished professional and minister in her own right.  As a result, Brad was a changed man and seemed much happier. In the years that followed I found myself slowly drifting away from his publications, having learned what I needed. However I did send him a letter or email on occasion. I last corresponded with him ten years ago, in 2008. And I heard him several times on “Coast To Coast AM” discussing various topics including the JFK assassination with authoritative command of the topic matter.

I had always hoped to meet with him again at this home in Iowa, since it was so near to where I live, but it never happened, sadly. Coincidentally, perhaps,  I was thinking of him earlier this year, wondering how he was doing. I am sad to hear of his departure from this life, but I feel that he is soaring through Eternity now.

 

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The end of spiritual questions

During the weekend, I briefly attended another fair for those inclined to pursue spiritual knowledge via psychic readings, intuitive counseling, etc. The presumption is that attendees have unanswered spiritual questions that need answering via some metaphysical technique or another.

I left without seeing a single vendor. And the realization hit me soon therafter: I have no more spiritual questions that need to be answered.

Certainly, during the rest of my life I will have all kinds of practical questions that need answers. And that is the case for everyone.

However, in my case the time for asking questions of a spiritual nature has come to an end, after 35 years of a daily meditation practice under the guidance of spiritual mentors and teachers.

And in fact asking those questions is no longer appropriate.

Silent surrender to God is.

The fundamental responsibility in my case is the surrender of “me” into the Eternal Divine Presence. And that Presence is Real, not an imagination or a hopeful wish. This is my direct experience.

What follows in this life, regardless of how long it lasts, will be lived from this perspective.

 

 

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The Ebbing Of Life’s Tide

While recently at an intuitive arts/health fair I briefly encountered one of those booths that sells new-age books that celebrate endless youth, living forever, and so on.

I took it as an insult, however unintentional it might have been.

The last eleven years have been a series of personal losses. My dad, stepdad, father and law and most sorrowfully my beloved grandmother have all passed away.

And I have dealt with illnesses of family members-long term conditions that have drastically impacted their quality of life.

So “living forever” in “endless youth” in this human life is not possible.

How many times have I visited hospitals? More times in recent years than in the last 40. Some hospitals in town are dramatically expanded. One facility was where I worked as a temp 20 years ago. It has seemingly created several more buildings at least. How? Money, hundreds of millions, from all of the care offered to those who are seriously ill. Astronomical amounts of money.

Despite the promises hospitals make of  a surfire way to beat cancer that are published on prominent billboards, these facilities do have patients who are seriously ill and in many cases, terminally. For some of my family members, this was the place they spent their last days of life, in a haze of medical monitors, nurses, and family members saying goodbye.

And after those goodbyes are said, it’s incredbily difficult to find anyone to talk with about ongoing grief. They all run. In fact, you find yourself ignored and expected to “get over it” with no other words of sympathy, not even a hug. But the show must go on I guess.  People have to find ways of denying grief so they can go buy more books about living forever and endless youth.

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Help wanted..not really.

This is a column that I have wanted to write for  a very long time.

As a self-employed IT consultant I have attempted every now and then to apply for full-time gigs in the Omaha IT job market. After raising my “I’m available” flag on LinkedIn I have been contacted by various recruiters. Some are sincere. But they are in the minority.

Others are, to put it mildly, time wasters. Promising grandiose results in a vague tone of voice they give me their assurances that people like me are needed in local firms and they WILL get back to me with a good match.

But they never do.

And the beat goes on. The revolving door of people young enough to be my kids continue to send me very enthusiastic contact letters assuring me they CAN help, but in all honesty, do they REALLY WANT to help people find work in Omaha?

Qualifications? Do you want qualifications? I’ve worked for 25 years this month(November, 2017) holding down the same airshift at a local radio station. And during my nearly 30 year tenure in public broadcasting I’ve interviewed dozens of internationally acclaimed jazz artists, hosted thousands of hours of jazz programming, and published online content and e-newsletters for years. That should be as good of a foundation for any employment, anywhere.

This leads into my work as an independent IT consultant. As a “one-man band” I’ve developed multiple small business websites, many for musician and art clients. What’s more, I’ve troubleshooted problems including host migrations that didn’t go as planned(one host provider left me in the lurch, leaving the only copy of a client’s files on the local computer!) restoring damaged or “off-line” websites, and an e-commerce crisis that required a 24-hour solution due to an app that turned out to be the worst on the market.

Amazingly, this, and more than 15 years of experience running my own business, apparently isn’t “enough” to warrant consideration for full-time employment by the “decision makers” in this area.

So, like so many other talented people that wear multiple hats, I continue to pursue my career track of self-employment, rather than try to chase down the mirage of “employment opportunities” that are really wasters of the most precious commodity to any businessperson: Time.

 

 

 

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Spiritual Memoir: Star Wars

Forty years ago, the first “Star Wars” film arrived on movie screens around the world.

The movie changed my life!

The first Star Wars film “A New Hope” in part told the story of the first great adventure of Luke Skywalker and his introduction to the ways of the “Force” while studying with Obi-Wan Kenobi. Skywalker studied with Kenobi briefly before the elder Jedi met his demise (or transcendence) during a light saber battle with Darth Vader aboard the Death Star. And of course, Luke Skywalker uses the Force later to destroy the 100-mile wide battle station at the end of this milestone film.

And the first and subsequent viewings of Star Wars forever changed my orientation towards spiritual life. It was, in fact, a re-awakening to the mystical life and spiritual work that I had known in highly likely previous lifetimes as a monk and contemplative.

I could no longer accept the orthodox religious tradition as it was presented to me via the local religious institutions my family I added. Spiritual life had to be about the direct experience of the Divine. I began to ask questions. I began to seek out a deeper experience of God, and a spiritual training of some sort. This was quite a shift for an 11-year-old young boy in Nebraska in 1977!

Carrie Fischer was only 10 years older than me when I watched the first Star Wars film. Her passing not long ago along with the death of her mom Debbie Reynolds left me with a deep sadness, and a reinforced determination to meet each day as a gift. That is one of the most important lessons I have learned in my lifelong commitment to spiritual work and surrender to God.

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Monetizing the Zoo

I’ve been a supporter and avid visitor of the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium for years, but a visit this last weekend started to change my opinion about this place that so many years warranted “Best In the World” status.

Much to my regret, I observed that a construction project was underway at the Prairie Dog Hill Pavillion. It leaves me with sadness to see this only untouched part of the zoo, a wooded area where prairie dogs along with other wildlife roamed, undergoing a forced renovation for other uses.

Why is this necessary? I spent countless hours in this sanctuary, over many years, seeing animals in nature and finding much-needed peace at the same time.

I’ve observed prairie dog behavior up close as well as the arrival of the new prairie dogs in late spring. I’ve watched turkeys wander by, sometimes six at a time, and on one day they flew miraculously into the trees above me!

Now visitors will likely not have that experience.

Furthermore, while walking through other parts of the zoo, I can’t seem to be allowed any degree of peace while public address systems blare needless pop music.

Exactly why does Huey Lewis and the News and REO Speedwagon have to be blasted over loudspeakers in a place where people should be able to find communion with nature? Really???

A zoo should offer patrons the chance to observe and appreciate animals at close range. It is hard to do that when the focus of the place becomes mere entertainment: A circus-like atmosphere for maximum stimulation, instead of a refuge away from all of the stimulation of this present day, where magical encounters can take place between humans and animals.

I’m fortunate to have had many of these encounters before the rush to monetization took place.

 

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Spiritual Memoir: The Beginning

I was born Christopher S. Cooke in June 1966 in Omaha, Nebraska. Since earliest memory, I have had the experience of the Presence of God in my life. The challenge of my early years was to find if the direct experience of God could be deepened by the church I was part of as a result of my family.

The Presbyterian Church in the 1970s was arguably a good place for any start of a theological consideration to take place. And by my 10th year, I was reading a wide variety of spiritually minded books as well as the Bible itself. I have always enjoyed reading books.

There was much to learn in Sunday School about the life of Christ, which I studied very carefully. I also paid attention to the Old Testament and especially the books of Genesis and Exodus. These received many hours of careful study and examination on my part. I remember as a young kid drawing my own conception of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ which I felt would take place at the turn of the century(back in the 1970s several noted authors alleged this would happen.).

Unfortunately, the church that I attended was one where the direct experience of God was not actually encouraged. Nor were any questions about theology, doctrine or dogma. And my youthful innocence and diligence at studying my lessons was, in fact, made fun of by several young people who were just “coasting” through the confirmation class.

The tradition that I grew up in was one where the experience of God (via Christ) and other miraculous happenings attributed to the saints happened long, long ago. And not surprisingly, I was told not to mention my own experiences of God to anyone. I wondered, wasn’t this the kind of experience that the church would presumably want people to have?

As a result, I started to have questions about the church and worship environment that I was in. Those questions were answered in part by a series of events that happened in the late 1970s that led into the early 1980s. More on that soon. Stay tuned!

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