Dallas radio veteran Rick Vanderslice joins the queer blogosphere
For a guy who’s comfortably in his fifth decade, Rick Vanderslice is quickly becoming a streaming-audio technocrat. Since the Internet and XM Satellite service are challenging terrestrial radio’s dominance, Vanderslice is also transitioning with the times. The former KOAI-FM, RadioLeft.com and KERA-FM host recently added "podcast host" to his resume.
Every Sunday at 1 p.m., Vanderslice rounds up three guests in the "library nook" at Buli CafÃ© on Cedar Springs Road. With headsets and microphones, the weekly foursome bounces around topics for an hour: Twentysomethigns Today, Obama vs. Clinton, gay marriage.
In the background of the thoughtful discussions, listeners can hear the weekend afternoon rush at Oak Lawn’s gayest cafÃ©. And with the help of Vanderslice’s audio engineer, Shawn Bolling, the quality of the podcast is surprisingly well produced — especially with four people talking.
Instead modeling his podcast like the "hot topic" panel catfights — a la "The View" — Vanderslice hopes to inspire intellectual conversations. And by conversation, he means listening to each other as well as well as running one’s mouth.
"We have a lot of debate out there. There’s no lack of debate. But there is a need for thoughtful, critical thinking," Vanderslice explains.
Before the on-air light goes on, Vanderslice tells his guests that no one should be trying to "win" their point of view. He wants them to bring their experience and wisdom to the table. And he wants them to be attentive to those who disagree with their point of view.
"I want to create an environment where we can understand ourselves. I don’t think we can understand others until we understand ourselves," he says.
At 6’4", Vanderslice is a tall drink of water. And usually the taller the guy, the deeper the voice. The sound of Vanderslice’s velvety second-bass register practically destined him for a spoken-word career. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Vanderslice moved to Highland Park as a high schooler. His dad — also a tall guy — was a Baptist preacher.
"He had a deep voice, too. But from him, I learned that the voice wasn’t enough. To get people’s attention, you had to use your voice effectively and what you said had to be interesting," Vanderslice says.
While in high school, after appearing as a guest on a local radio station, Vanderslice was invited back as a regular to offer the "youth voice" point of view. In college, he majored in philosophy. He took up singing for a while, but in the mid-’70s, he was offered a gig as DJ on a music radio station.
"But my favorite part was conducting one-on-one interviews," he remembers. Over the years, he’s interviewed Ringo Starr and Jackson Browne. He won a Katie Award for his Ella Fitzgerald interview.
While the queer blogoshephere is replete with young fresh talents — like Chicago podcast team Marc Felion and Fausto FernÃ³s of "Feast of Fools" — one has to remember that radio techniques aren’t easy to master. Audio talkshows are enhanced by nuance and subtlety. Perhaps an old-time expert like Vanderslice can teach the new generation how its done.
"Conversations from the Buli CafÃ© with Rick Vanderslice" are posted on TheBuliSalon.com.
New shows tape Sundays at 1 p.m.
This week’s show, "How Good is Dallas’ Gay Life," features filmmaker Israel Luna, writer Jenny Block and Stonewall Democrat Jessie Garcia.
Buli CafÃ©, 3908 Cedar Springs Road.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 11, 2008.