by Janice Limbaugh
It might have been bitterly cold outside last evening, but inside the Wyoming Branch of the Kent District Library it was warm, friendly and entertaining thanks to Tom Rademacher. The award winning columnist and author chased the winter chill away with the first strum of his guitar, leading into a short and silly song, followed by a room full of chuckles. It was a master storyteller’s unexpected ice breaker with his audience. And like his writing, he hooked everyone within those first few moments into his presentation promoting storytelling, writing, and WKTV’s citizen journalism project – this website.
The event, Spend an Evening with Tom Rademacher, is the second presentation sponsored by WKTV to encourage residents in Wyoming, Kentwood and surrounding areas to start “telling their stories about their community” by sharing them online at now.wktv.org. It’s called being a citizen journalist and it is a current global initiative of modern media communication. Across the nation and around the world, communities like ours, are turning to citizen journalism websites to capture the essence of daily living that is being lost in the corporate newspapers of today. Fortunately for us, Tom Rademacher, known for his storytelling genius and memorable writing style, supports our initiative.
“The best stories I’ve ever found, are right around the corner,” Rademacher confessed to an audience of over 20.
“You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t interested in sharing and telling good stories. This project through WKTV is your opportunity to do just that,” he said.
“Whether you realize it or not, you are all artists in training. Your palette is the entire alphabet. Have fun with it!”
Participants were of all ages and backgrounds. A few were long-time writers. Others were not. Some were simply curious. But the one commonality everyone shared, according to Rademacher, was we are all observers. “Every day, everywhere you go, there’s a story happening around you. The question is, are you aware enough of what’s going on in your surroundings to take notice?”
For over an hour and a half, Rademacher conversed with the audience discussing everything from his memorable experiences to writing tips to reporting do’s and don’ts. But it was his genuine passion for people and their stories that seemed to make the greatest impression on those attending.
“You write a story about something for two reasons. It’s either interesting or important,” he said. “And if you keep your eyes and ears open, you’ll find there’s a lot of good deeds and memorable people living in your community. Share their stories…it’s worth it.”