In Spite of Fall-like Conditions, Chicago Public Radio Presents... Busts Out Another Sold Out Event
"I wish you could just do ten of these..." - a thrilled attendee
Doing events in Phoenix must be a cake walk.‚ I mean, all the other factors come into play when planning a public event in Arizona - the venue, the
capacity, the selling of the tickets, the actual program, the day-of setup, the post-event strike - an event is an event is an event.‚ In Chicago, however, the 800-lb Gorilla sitting in his car just outside the show is the infamous Chicago weather.
After all the planning and work we had put into our "very special book reading" at the Heartland Cafe, it was the rain that threatened to derail the whole proceedings.‚ As someone who has produced live events in Chicago, I know with a certainty a few die-hard rules of thumb:
1.‚ Never produce an event on Super Bowl Sunday or Easter.
2.‚ The Friday after Thanksgiving is great because everyone wants to get out of their homes and away from their relatives for a couple of hours...
3.‚ People in Chicago will brave the heat, the wind, and bitter cold but rain will keep them home.
"What a great evening out.‚ What's next?" - another excited audience member
As the day unfolded, it became abundantly clear how unclear the skies were and that rain‚ was going to spit on us all day and night.‚ We had sold tickets that were near capacity but, unlike AIG or Goldman-Sacks, this series is not about the greenbacks.‚ Even though the tickets were sold, a live literary event with no audience is just a bunch of English majors reading their papers out loud.
As 6:00 p.m. approached and the four authors were eating a fine Heartland Cafe meal, the brilliant WBEZ volunteers were stuffing bags for our guests and setting up our many displays, and Thomas (the suave young guy in charge of getting all of our supposed patrons seated) began moving chairs and arranging tables.‚ I could be found staring out at the pouring sky and cursing Tom Skilling.
Fortunately, like a strange autumnal miracle, not only did all of our pre-purchased tickets and most of complimentary guests began to show up, we sold a few tickets at the door.‚ By 6:45 p.m., Breeze went from explaining to damp but expectant walk up traffic that we were sold out to telling them we were going to begin violating the fire code - there simply was no more room for people.
"Really a lovely evening. CPR Presents Rocks!" - Sandra Barnett-White
The authors took the stage and Nick White (a WBEZ producer who frequently records our ...Presents... series for posterity - pictured left) and myself took our places.‚ I introduced JC Gabel, editor-in-chief of STOP SMILING Magazine and the thing was afoot.‚ In spite of having to compete with the lively (and loud) kitchen, our four writers were amazing.‚ When they finished Allison Cuddy came up and moderated a Q & A session that had the room roaring.
Next month on November 16, we host Speaking of Faith's Krista Tippet and Interfaith Youth Corps founder Eboo Patel for an extraordinary opportunity to hear these two in a one-on-one conversation called "Evolving Faith: Meaning, Ethics, and Ideas"
at the historic Fourth Presbyterian Church in downtown Chicago.‚ Enjoy a pre-Thanksgiving reception and participate in assisting poet/collage artist Krista Franklin lay the foundation for a mixed-media collage that will be displayed in our Navy Pier digs later in the year.‚ Then join us for the‚ main event.
You can purchase tickets here
or contact me
for discounts on groups of ten or more.