While on 99X for more than 12 years, former morning host Jimmy Baron loved doing interviews, be it with regular people or celebrities such as the Dalai Lama or Paul McCartney.
Out of radio since November after rock station 92.9/Dave FM let him go following a two-year stint, Baron is now pursuing an idea to parlay his interviewing skills: talk to average folks and create “stories of your life” videos.
About 30 years ago, he did a video of his grandmother. “That planted the seed,” Baron said, “a seed that stayed dormant for 20-some-odd years.” (He found the VHS tape years later but sadly found out that he had taped a Wrestlemania match over most of it. “That was one my ultimate big fat fails,” he noted archly, referencing his former daily radio bit.)
In 2008, while Baron was between radio gigs, he did one for a friend’s father. “Hearing him tell the story of his life and relating his memories is priceless for the family,” Baron said. “I tell people, ‘Think about it if your old family photos could actually speak.’ ”
He recently launched a website, www.storiesofalife.net, which explains the different packages, which range from a straight interview to a full-fledged “legacy” DVD with videos and photos.
Packages start at $2,100. That may sound steep but people will spend that much to do family portraits, he said.
“What I’m doing is telling stories,” Baron said. “Having an ear for a good story is something that is ultimately what’s going to make the videos good. You can have all the fancy production you want but at the end of the day, the person who is producing needs to know how to tell a story.”
He first consults with the family to line up questions. If need be, he has the family collect photos and videos, too. He’ll sit down with the subject for two to five hours.
Baron said he’s not doing an expose to delve into the darker parts of people’s live. “Its’ supposed to be a feel-good thing,” he said. “It’s a way to honor their life and celebrate the great life they’ve given their families.”
He said he feels he has a knack for making people feel comfortable in front of a camera, especially people who are not used to it: “Often, people will open up to a total stranger easier than a relative.”
Baron won’t be doing narration and though his voice might pop up now and then during the interviews, he tries to keep himself out of it. “People don’t want to hear me,” he said. Then he couldn’t help but joke, “I know that because that’s what Dave FM management said to me.”
So far, he’s done about a half dozen videos and has several more lined up. He hopes once he generates enough volume, he can focus on the interviews and outsource more of the editing. (He has gotten technical tips from his former Morning X colleague Steve Barnes, who is now running his own social media consulting company.)
Some of his favorite interviews on radio included one with James Woods talking about being on a test flight with some of the 9/11 terrorists, reporting suspicious behavior and having nothing done. He also enjoyed hearing McCartney express his disappointment when Michael Jackson purchased the rights to the Beatles songs from under him.
As for a future in radio, 50-year-old Baron said he’s open to opportunities but given his ties to Atlanta, his options are limited. “I need to concentrate on building my future via other means,” he said. “If something comes along, who knows, but I’m not spending a lot of time thinking about it.”
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk