Monday, January 19, 2015

Interview with ABSOLUTELY MINDY!

I have lamented frequently enough about our new carpool commute this school year and my attempts to embrace it as quality family time. We do a variety of activities to place a positive spin on those miles, including, as I mentioned here, listening to Sirius XM's Kids Place Live channel. We particularly love listening to the morning kids show, "The Absolutely Mindy Show," which has the most incredibly clever, creative, and hysterically funny programming that helps our daily commute.

SO imagine my surprise when one recent morning I heard Mindy mention the snow delays for DC-area schools. I somehow had totally overlooked the fact that the Kids Place Live offices are in DC! Immediately I knew we had to try and interview Mindy, who in addition to hosting our favorite morning show, is the Program Director for Kids Place Live. Our kids really think she is the bees knees and, personally, I find her creativity and quick-thinking with kids really inspiring. I sent off an email and heard back from Mindy herself -- the interview was on!

Now I don't really have any experience conducting this type of interview. In fact, my prior professional experience with interviews was in my capacity as a defense attorney, which meant you probably were not really psyched to be interviewed by me. But the kids and I put our heads together and came up with a plan. We discussed how interviews should have a "beginning, a middle, and an end." We planned to start out by asking Mindy about how she got started in her career, specifics about her current show, and then some questions about her family. My goal really was to let the kids do the talking, so I sent Mindy their list of questions ahead of time -- just in case they had trouble being clear, she'd know what they were getting at. Before we called Mindy, we went over some interview basics: no talking over each other; ask open-ended questions; listen to Mindy's answers; try to ask follow-up questions; make it a conversation, etc.

I wouldn't say we nailed our plan, but I was very proud of both kids. Kane took it very seriously, but still had fun. The initially-shy Cami spoke up and inserted herself into the conversation (even if it wasn't always with appropriately-timed questions). Their interview (and some interview-prep photos of them watching video of Mindy and just generally jumping with excitement) is set forth below. Man I love these kids.

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After some brief introductions, Kane was chomping at the bit to ask the first question, and, in so many words, asked Mindy to "provide some more information about her show for kids who might not yet be listeners." Mindy described her show as a "daily interactive morning show" that includes great music from independent kids artists, popular movies and t.v. shows, and other artists from around the country. Her overall goal is to act as a "buddy as you ride to school," so in addition to the music, she plays fun games on the show and gets kids to use their imagination and creativity to warm up their brains before school! And then Mindy went on to describe one of the biggest reasons I love to listen with the kids: she knows families often don't have a lot of time together and so she considers it part of her job to help provide fun prompts for families to interact with each other in the morning. It's totally true. Each morning we have fun discussing together whatever silly idea or fun activity Mindy has going. And the kids love to carry the discussion throughout the day long after carpool time is over.

So Kane did a great job of getting the interview started, but I really wish you could have seen Cami silently and urgently stabbing her hand in the air the whole time Mindy answered Kane. It was clear -- Cam wanted a turn. Instead of asking a "beginning question" like we'd discussed, Cam went right for her gold question (which wasn't really a question at all, but a declaration): "I'M GOING TO TOUCH THE LLAMA."

"Well, that's an odd comment," I'm sure you're thinking. But, in addition to Mindy's show in the morning, we listen to Kenny Curtis' Animal Farm show on our afternoon ride home (also on Kids Place Live). One of Kenny's animals, Lorenzo Llama, is notorious for refusing to let anyone pet him (a side effect from living most of his life in a petting zoo). Kenny runs an ongoing joke where listeners call in and ask to touch the llama. In fact, he even plays a remix of Duck Sauce's "Barbra Streisand," mixing in Lorenzo's warning: "Don't touch the llama." It's a hysterical bit that gets us every time. Unfortunately, Mindy relayed that not even she was allowed to touch Lorenzo. In fact, other animals on the farm served as bodyguards for him, so it was unlikely Cami would ever get a turn either. Sorry, Cam.

Kane brought the interview back on track and asked how Mindy came up with the name of her show because "of all things she could come up with, why Absolutely?!" Mindy took us back to her college days when she was coming up with ideas for a radio show and thought, in true interactive fashion, that she'd name her kids show: "The Absolutely {BLANK} Mindy Show!" Meaning that each day, she'd have a kiddo come up with an adjective to fill in for the show's name. After kindly describing to Kane what an adjective was, she put the question back to him: "What would you name the Absolutely {ADJECTIVE} Kane Show?" He sweetly described his physical appearance: big eyes, curly hair, etc. and them summed it up as "The Absolutely CRAZY Kane Show!" I promised that I actually already listen to that show everyday. All day long.

Swing back to an apoplectic Cam who shouted out "It's Taco Tuesday!!!" That very morning Mindy had talked about her infamous imaginary "Stunt Cats" celebrating Taco Tuesday by turning a giant 18-wheeler into a taco truck and shooting tacos out into neighborhoods as they drove around. So I guess Cami wanted confirmation that it was in fact still Taco Tuesday? Yep, no real question there; but you did your research Cam and showed you're a listener.

I reminded them that we were actually conducting an interview and Kane remembered that he wanted to know "how Mindy found music for the show." It's honestly one of the only kids channels I can listen to, so I was also really curious to hear how they curate such a good selection. Turns out they find music in several different ways. The show is well-known enough now that their receive lots and lots of submissions to the station. They also find music from popular movies and t.v. shows. But then they also try to find music that isn't necessarily "for kids," but that kids will love. And then Mindy threw out the example of "Pineapple Princess," which is one of Cam's faaaavorite tunes from the channel and one of her current nicknames. Swoon! Mindy also fessed up to playing music that she personally can't stand, but that she knows kids will LOVE. I won't dime her out on any examples, but I'm totally comfortable sharing my own love/hate relationship with "What Does the Fox Say?" with which my kids looooove to torture me and I put up with because it cracks them up every time.

Cue random comment from Cam who, instead of asking an interview question after whining that she wanted to ask "ALL MY QUESTIONS NOT JUST ONE," decided she needed to put in a song request. And bless Mindy -- she told Cam she'd play whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted. Just to have me email her. As if we didn't already think she was the nicest. dj. ever. (And she did it! She played Fall Out Boy's "Immortals" from Big Hero 6 and gave them a shoutout the very next morning. They were in seventh heaven.)

Kane was temporarily abuzz with the news that they'd get a song request granted, but calmed down long enough to ask me what was next on his list of questions. Since so many of our readers are local, he wanted to know what Mindy likes to do in D.C. with her own kids. Turns out that her family is quite outdoorsy and their favorite thing to do is go hiking together! Their top local spot is the Billy Goat Trail in Great Falls, Maryland, which we've done before too! Not only do they like tricky trails like the Billy Goat, they love to take walks through the woods looking for mystical creatures or pretending they're riding them (sounds just like our storyplaying adventures!). Mindy's son also loves to pretend that he's a trail ranger and makes up all kinds of fun facts about the forest as they hike (some true, some not). Love it!

All of these activities help Mindy's two kids forget sometimes that they are out hiking and keeps the whining to a minimum. Having significant familiarity with the need for hiking distractions, Kane shared with Mindy our favorite anti-whining hiking activity: geocaching! Being on a treasure hunt definitely helps the kids forget we are waaaaay far away from the car and need to hike back. If you haven't tried geocaching, you can find all our tips to getting started right here! And, if you're local, check out the awesome intersection of art and geocaching we found on our street mural geocache tour.

Back to the interview! By this point, Cami had recovered from her song request and asked what shows Mindy's kids loved to watch. Mindy revealed that Netflix now hosts all episodes of Pee-wee's Playhouse! It was one of Mindy's favorite shows when she was young and she is now getting to watch them all over again with her kids, and she claims that it's held up over time. I don't know if I'm ready yet to pull that trigger (I know I will have both kids maniacally Pee-wee laughing, which I know is a certainty), but I love that Mindy loves it. It definitely highlights how perfect her personality is to host our favorite morning show!

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You can hear The Absolutely Mindy Show weekday mornings from 7-10 am ET on Sirius XM's Kids Place Live (Channel 78).

Mindy, thank you SO much for taking the time to talk to us, share all about you and your family, and for your patience with our beginning journalists. We'll be listening for a long time to come!

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