Cover To Cover is the anchor program for GPB’s literary coverage. Cover To Cover features a collection of distinctive Southern voices interviewing Georgia writers, Southern writers, and writers dealing with the South. The GPB Southern Lit Cadre will provide you with a varied, weekly glimpse at fiction, non-fiction, history, poetry, and even the occasional ‘old school’ nod to Flannery O’Connor or William Faulkner.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Cover to Cover the Video

I mentioned in my very first posting to this blog that Cover to Cover is now being videotaped each month and posted to the website for on-demand viewing. If you haven't yet taken a look at what I'm now calling "Cover to Cover the Video," you can see the debut effort on the GPB website; look for the April 2007 edition of the show featuring Jackie K. Cooper and his book The Bookbinder. Other show pages offer you the chance to "Listen Online," but this page let's you "Watch Online."

I have to admit that when the idea was first floated I wasn't at all keen on it. I was scared that adding a camera into the studio would somehow alter the show; I've done enough television to know that it's a completely different animal to radio. For TV the emphasis is always on the visual with the result that content plays second fiddle to form.

I've always been proud of Cover to Cover because of the simplicity of its concept and the fact that form is less important than content. What is always preeminent in each show is the conversation between readers and an author. I was concerned that videotaping the show would detract from it as both myself and the guest would be conscious of the camera which might make us more nervous or make us go over the top.

Eventually after much prompting from well-meaning colleagues at GPB (including my boss!), I decided that I should put my concerns aside and give the visual a chance. If I didn't like the results, or if the show suffered because of the camera's intrusion, I could always call the experiment off.

What I didn't count on was Raegan Hodge (pictured above, looking "alluring"!). This force of nature was given the "short straw" assignment of producing the first Cover to Cover video. Raegan impressed me right from the get-go and continues to do so.

The first thing that made me realize she wasn't just going to set up a camera and give me the tape after the show was the appearance of two cameras in the studio--a "two-camera shoot" as those in the business call it. I had never even considered this possibility. It's like adding a second character to a story; suddenly you have the potential for dialogue and this makes the narrative so much more interesting.

As well as working for GPB, Raegan is a graduate student at Georgia State University studying for an MFA in film, so she brings to the Cover to Cover the Video task a certain artistic vision and flair, not just in videotaping but also in post-production.

After the April 2007 show with Jackie K. Cooper, Raegan began to work her magic and invited me up to her cubicle to view a rough cut of the shoot. I was dumbfounded. Not only had she succeeded in making my well-worn face look good (a sine qua non!), she'd also done a spectacular job of adding in visual elements to make the entire show eminently watchable. It wasn't just fixed camera shots of myself and Jackie cut together; Raegan had added B-roll footage and marvelous editing techniques that made the finished product a work of art. It can be watched and enjoyed just like a TV show.

Raegan did a superb job of interpreting the Cheatsheet, Cover to Cover's synopsis of the featured book. I had never considered how this part of each month's show would be handled. The Cheatsheet is recorded ahead of time and played back during the live broadcast. That means that both host and guest don't have anything to do for those several minutes other than listen to the synopsis. Doesn't exactly make great viewing. But Raegan's genius turned the Cheatsheet into a work of art.

She's now working on June's show when Powder Springs author Joshilyn Jackson joined me to talk and take calls about her second novel, Between, Georgia. I've seen the "almost final" cut and think it's even better than the The Bookbinder video. It should be posted to the Cover to Cover pages of the GPB website ( within the next few days and I urge you to watch it and email your reactions to

Thank you Raegan Hodge for adding a new and engaging element to Cover to Cover and allaying the irrational fears of a curmudgeonly British host!