Q: Tell us about yourself?
A: I received a BA in Mass Communications from Anderson University (Indiana). I have spent the last 34 years working in journalism and public affairs, the last 11 with Miami University. I’m a huge fan of music, although I don’t play an instrument (all thumbs) and my singing voice is (and should be) limited to the shower.
Q: What does a typical day look like for you?
A: I oversee a small team of professional superstars with expertise in community relations, marketing, graphic design, web communications and social media. We market for enrollment and events, and we publicize success stories among our students, faculty and staff.
My team is responsible for developing and executing an array of branded marketing and promotional materials, including for the Artist Series. So, following the retirement of longtime Artist Series director Howard Epstein, it made sense to keep this signature program in-house since we were already heavily involved in it.
Q: What are some of your hobbies, past times? What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?
A: I’m an outdoor rec guy. I thoroughly enjoy backpacking, camping, canoeing and kayaking. The common denominator in all of those activities is fishing. I’m also a two-wheel guy. I love bicycling and adventure motorcycling – especially when they involve touring.
I obviously enjoy live music. I attended my first concert, Elton John, at UD Arena in 1973. I have appreciated live music ever since.
Q: What do you consider as your biggest accomplishment to date? Have you received an awards or accolades?
A: By far my biggest accomplishment was adopting and raising two young children who are now self-sufficient, civic-minded adults.
On a work-related note, as a former Journal-News reporter (1985-90), I shared an Ohio Associated Press Award in the Breaking News category with (now retired) reporter and columnist Ercel Eaton. An overnight house fire in Hamilton killed seven people including five children. I was working the police/fire beat at the time, and Ercel was working the deadline copy desk that morning. We met the 7 a.m. deadline with only seconds to spare. I think that was the first time I ever high-fived anyone.
Q: Part of your role is overseeing the Miami Regionals Artist Series. Tell us about that?
A: Well, from my perspective, replacing Howard Epstein is like replacing (legendary basketball coach) John Wooden at UCLA. Clearly, I have my work cut out for me. The Artist Series attracts many out-of-state patrons, so it’s good for area hotels, restaurants and bars. While I negotiate pricing, book performances, execute contracts and present the shows, others are working behind the scenes in support roles developing marketing and PR materials, arranging for hospitality and lodging, etc. The devil is in the details. I’m grateful for the energy and expertise of my colleagues.
Q: What characteristics/strengths do you feel you bring to the role?
A: I bring my own passion, confidence, resourcefulness, personality and commitment to customer service. I love the Artist Series and I care about it. I was mentored by one of the very best in the business. I will certainly put my own personal touch on the Series, but I do not intend to stray too far from the genres of music that I know draws well in this part of the country. A lot of people in this part of country have proud Appalachia roots. I’m one of them.
I am a huge fan of the Artist Series, having been a longtime season ticket holder. Like other season ticket holders, I just knew that any shows Howard booked were going to be good, and they were. I have to earn the respect of the loyal patronage that Howard worked so hard to develop and grow. He had to earn it, too. I cannot rest on Howard’s laurels and expect the Artist Series to continue at the same level of success that he enjoyed. Howard’s early years were understandably lean. He built the Artist Series from the ground up. It’s my job to preserve the level of excellence that people have come to expect, and strategically build upon it.
Q: How has the Artist Series grown and evolved?
A: Through trial and error. You’re not going to hit on every show, but you have to hit on the vast majority of them. The shows have to be high quality and affordable. We work hard to accommodate the performers and their entourage. We want it to be memorable, so they’ll want to come back. The venues speak for themselves. Both Parrish and Finkelman have roomy and comfortable seating, and awesome sound quality and lighting. Great atmospheres for live music.
Q: How has the concert series been able to carve out a niche in the market?
A: All the credit goes to Howard. He conducted exhaustive research. Howard had a special knack for identifying up-and-coming acts before they fully blossom out of our price range. He was equally masterful at booking more established, nationally-known artists whose music careers were waning, but they were still excellent.
In my opinion, Howard Epstein retired as one of the all-time greatest presenters of live music anywhere in the world.
Q: What have audiences come to expect from the series?
A: Excellence and affordability.
Q: What are you most pleased about of as far as being able to offer the concert series to the community?
A: It is one of our longest running and most successful cultural programs enjoyed by thousands and thousands of people.
Q: How’s the series going so far this season and what’s ahead for March and April?
A: The Lone Bellow show in Middletown was a smash hit, as was Sierra Hull in Hamilton. Both shows were near sellouts. Tickets are going fast for both The Texas Troubadours on March 3 in Middletown, and Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver – the season finale — on April 14 in Hamilton.
Q: Talk specifically about the Texas Troubadours show on March 3. What do you anticipate will be some of the evenings highlights?
A: The Texas Troubadours brings Ruthie Foster, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Carrie Rodriguez − three of the Lone Star State’s finest − together on stage to swap songs and collaborate. This songwriting circle will be an unforgettable evening of music with a little bit of grit and a whole lot of heart.
Q: What can audiences expect from the evening?
A: This show will be a powerhouse vocally and instrumentally. Expect a blend of alt-county, blues and folk. There will be two sets. The first will include a blend of solos and duets; the second all three will be on stage together.
Q: Why would you encourage the community to come out to a concert/support the series?
A: It is affordable and memorable entertainment. The concerts draw locally and regionally. The Series is an established stalwart on the Cincinnati-Dayton fine arts landscape.
Q: How can we find out more about the Miami Regionals Artist Series?
A: Email RegArtistSeries@miamioh.edu for Information about tickets and upcoming shows or go to the website MiamiOH.edu/Regionals/ArtistSeries.
Contact this contributing writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.