Media Watch

DRUDGE REPORT: With this issue of the Tucson Weekly, Joan Schuman finally hands over the drudgery of compiling listings, as well as the more creative task of writing City Week and the Pick of the Week, to Carrie Stern.

Listings are among the most dreaded, tedious tasks in newspapering, second only to sports agate (like box scores), which is assigned to rookies and veterans who are being punished. But Stern knows what she's getting into; she did the calendar in the Arizona Daily Wildcat's Go Wild section, as well as writing about arts and straight news during her two years there.

Stern, who came to Tucson from San Diego, graduated from the UA in December with a degree in history; now she's in graduate school, studying environmental education.

She promises that her coverage of events in City Week will be as surprisingly varied as her academic studies. "Tucson has a diversity of interests," she says, "and I hope to reflect that in my Picks, because I know that not everybody goes to Centennial Hall to see the latest show, and not everybody goes to clubs on Fourth Avenue.

"People have warned me that this job can get dull, but I will take heart in the fact that I'm enriching the lives of the people of Tucson by helping them find fun things to do."

As for what Stern does for fun, "I enjoy the outdoors," she says. "My boyfriend's a botanist, so we talk about plants a lot."

If they ever get together with an ornithologist and an apiarist, the conversation must really get provocative.

SOUND DECISION: Meanwhile, Joan Schuman has given up the TW listings after two years (and City Week after a year and a half) to devote more time to long-form writing and her independent audio productions, which she calls "radio sound art."

"I hate the fucking listings," Schuman growls, but she will miss the Pick, which she implemented last March. "I got to talk to people who were doing really interesting things, and usually, they were doing it with passion," she says. "Some of them were very strange, and some of them were very exciting.

"Amy Goodman [of Democracy Now!] was on a terrible deadline the day I interviewed her. She said she only had 20 minutes to talk, but she gave me 20 pristine minutes. They weren't rushed; there was no shtick; there was nothing canned. It was Amy Goodman unplugged."

Schuman herself, like Goodman, is no stranger to radio. In 1985, once she got tired of her first listings job at an alternative weekly in Philadelphia, she walked into WXPN radio in that city for training; within six months she had a documentary on the air.

"That introduced me to this passion of interviewing people and getting their stories and ideas, and weaving them with various sound elements," she says.

"I really love sound and radio, and I also love storytelling, and primarily the way people tell stories, and their voices. So I started making radio art narratives in 1992. It's sound art, pretty much using the radio broadcast vehicle as my medium, as my presentation space."

Schuman, while obtaining an master's in digital media arts, managed to get through a visual-arts program doing nothing but audio. "What I come back to again and again is how to tell stories in a nonlinear, woven, very sound-rich fashion," she says.

Schuman's work has aired in Europe, Canada, Australia and the United States, including on NPR. Right now, she's finishing up a project called The Taboo Box, which will be premiered not on the radio, but as the March 20 launch of a three-week installation of sound art at Dinnerware Gallery.

"It weaves three different elements," she explains. "One is recollections of dreams that women have had that they consider taboo. Interwoven with that is one person's story of betrayal, which I narrate. It's a very, very personal, emotional piece. It came through a couple of years of -- we'll call it growth. The third element is the sound of somebody--me--inside a large cardboard box. I like to bring these performative elements in on tape, but you'll never catch me prancing around in front of people. I'm too much of an introvert for that."

"Taboo" dreams include, according to Schuman, "one woman's flesh falling off her skeleton and washing away. Another woman woke up with a full-body orgasm and asked, 'Who's doing this to me?' and the answer was Jesus."

You can sample Schuman's work at the following sites:

· (scroll down to "Silence")
· (put her name into the search field)

ART ON THE AIR: Producer Mary Jane Overall, a refugee from the Australian outback, is launching a new Access Tucson show called 15 Minutes. The program features the ideas and works of such local artists as Mirle Freel, Judy O'Toole Freel, and Mauricio Toussaint. The program airs Mondays at 2:30 p.m. and Wednesdays at 6 p.m., but the big launch will be 7-9 p.m. this Saturday at Access Tucson, 124 E. Broadway Blvd. As a tie-in, there will be a workshop 1-3 p.m. Feb. 14 at Access Tucson on how to create and use QuickTime movies as a promotional tool, with a look at the works of new-media artists. The workshop costs $5. For info, call 743-1148.

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