History

Our True Tale: How True Tales Live Came to Be

There wasn’t always a True Tales Live storytelling program. It began thanks to John Lovering. While TTL is now taped before a live TV audience, it began as a radio show. It was John’s idea at the get-go so he tells our true tale:

True Tales Live Began on Radio

It was November of 2013. I’d been hosting the “Audio Theatre” program since 2004 at WSCA so I was well-established at the station. And I had this idea that I proposed to the station’s Programming Committee. I suggested that on the last Tuesday of each month the time slot scheduled for Audio Theatre be used for a new program to be called “True Tales Radio.” [Editors note: True Tales has taken place the last Tuesday of each month ever since.]

image of our first radio show
Our first radio storytelling show

It would be a local storytelling program. Unlike some storytelling programs, there would be no competing, or scoring, or judging. I wanted to encourage tellers, not frighten them away. The show would be open to anyone in the community who had a first-person story to share. And each show would be based on a monthly theme. The concept fit well with the mission statement of WSCA which included the phrase “Open to the Community.”

picture of our first radio show
More of that first show

On January 28, 2014 True Tales aired its first live storytelling program based on the theme “Beginnings”. Our first guests were Sharon Rhodes, Pat Spalding, Lynne Nickerson, Lucas Perry, Dee Hebert, Nelson Linscott and Cathy Wolff. I hosted the show with Jean Gagne as our set manager and Steve Kowal as our archive photographer. Peter “Rocky” Smith was our audio engineer and Richard Jenisch handled the audio mixing board.

After the first show it was clear to me that trying to do the audio engineering, being announcer, emcee and producer was too much. We needed help. Amy Antonucci offered to be the Announcer. Pat Spalding, who was a guest on the first show, asked if she could help out. She became the Emcee. Jean Proulx, the Volunteer Coordinator at WSCA, helped promote the show. Eventually I settled in as the producer and co-audio engineer.

After the first show it was clear to me that trying to do the audio engineering, being announcer, emcee and producer was too much. We needed help. Amy Antonucci offered to be the Announcer. Pat Spalding, who was a guest on the first show, asked if she could help out. She became the Emcee. Jean Proulx, the Volunteer Coordinator at WSCA, helped promote the show. Eventually I settled in as the producer and co-audio engineer.

On July 29, 2014, David Phreaner made his first appearance on True Tales with his story “How I Became A Sailor.” He appeared for a second time on December 29, 2015 with “How I Crashed Christmas.” Shortly after this show, David signed on as part of our crew helping out with greeting people at the door, handing out programs and as time went on got involved with Pat and Amy doing storytelling workshops on the first Tuesday of each month.

The Storytelling Workshops began in January of 2015 and grew increasingly popular, helping us to draw more people into the station to tell their “True Tales.” In 2016 True Tales was voted the Best Storytelling Program in New Hampshire by New Hampshire Magazine. Our audience was growing and we were seeing more and more tellers.

In February of 2016 Portsmouth Public Media Television with Bill Humphreys and Chad Cordner indicated a willingness to tape the show at the radio station, then air it on PPMTV (Comcast Channel 98). That offer got us to thinking about the visuals of storytelling in addition to the spoken word. After all, when people tell stories their gestures and facial expressions often add to the effectiveness of the story and to the audience’s enjoyment.

It was also in February of 2016 that Jon Nash, who been working as a co-host on Audio Theatre with me, began a new True Tales feature. He interviewed one of the tellers during the 6 to 6:30 pm time slot, prior to the start of the live show. The storyteller interview continues as part of True Tales Live.

image of Planning session at PPMTV
Planning session at PPMTV

On August 30, 2016 we did our final radio broadcast and began to make plans to bring our show to Portsmouth Public Media Television as True Tales Live.

True Tales Live

On November 29, 2016 we began taping our monthly broadcasts on PPMTV with our present crew of Pat Spalding, Amy Antonucci, David Phreaner (now our Interviewer), Steve Kowal, and me.

image of True Tales Live camera operator
Camera 3, True Tales Live

Of course we could not do the television program without the talents and work of many different people at PPMTV, in particular: Bill Humphreys and Chad Cordner, the camera operators, and the Control Room techs.

We currently do the show 9 months a year, bypassing July, August, and December. Our shows are all taped before a live audience. I then edit them and place them in PPMTV’s Channel 98 programming queue. We also make shows available on-demand on the PPMTV YouTube Channel. And we offer a Podcast at www.soundcloud.com where we have audio files of every show and interview that we’ve produced since 2014.

Storytelling Workshops

The Storytelling Workshops continue at PPMTV on the first Tuesday of the 9 months in which we have shows. They run from 7:30-9 pm at 280 Marcy Street in Portsmouth. Pat, Amy, and David welcome more and more storytellers to the fun, art, and craft of storytelling.

True Tales Live Onstage

image of audience at ACT ONE
Audience awaits Act One show

In addition since 2015 we have been fortunate to work with the Artists’ Collaborative Theatre of New England (ACT ONE) and Stephanie Van Nugent, the Executive Director. As a result, True Tales Live has performed for 4 seasons during ACT ONE’s Fall Festival Series. At these performances we bring some of our favorite storytellers for an afternoon of live storytelling to enthusiastic audiences. Most every show has sold out!

And in conclusion…

As I write this on January 27, 2019, in drawing our own true tale to a close, we have produced 28 radio shows and 21 PPMTV shows. We have performed at ACT ONE at the West End Theatre for 4 years. We also had the pleasure of doing a special show at the Rye Public Library. In total we have done 54 True Tales shows involving about 185 different storytellers and approaching 1000 in-studio and theater-going audience members.

It’s pretty clear by now that idea that began in November of 2013 was a good one. True Tales Live is happening. And we are loving what we are doing! For those who have attended our shows or participated in other ways, we thank you for your support. And if you haven’t (yet), come join us. As Pat often says, “Hey, What’s Your Story?” ~John Lovering