A "Rendezvous with Radio"
October 29, 2013
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. -- A new radio program geared toward introducing listeners to the daily lives of the Soldiers and families of the 101st Airborne Division aired this past weekend.
"Rendezvous Radio," is a project between the Division and the city's oldest radio station WJZM. The program debuted Oct. 18 over the Clarksville airwaves and is now in its third week and is rated the number one government podcast show, according to PodOmatic Podcast.
The two-hour program is believed to be the first of its kind in the Army, in that it is a partnership between a civilian operated media outlet and a military organization.
" 'Rendezvous Radio' is more than just some radio show on just some radio station; [it] is one of the largest opportunities for the American people to hear the real stories of our uniformed heroes directly from the Soldier's mouth," said Joe Padula, the program's radio host.
Typically the Army uses its own command information television and radio channels, as well as social media products, to inform the general public about the Soldiers and their lives.
The project was approved by the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs in Washington, D.C., and originated two months ago following on the heels of a pilot project, "Air Strike," which focused on the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Abn. Div.
Padula, a former Army public affairs specialist with the 2nd BCT, 101st Abn. Div., hosted, "Air Strike", bringing his unique personality and New Jersey accent that is peppered with his catchphrase, "Absolutely!" with him. The station wanted to expand that show and focus it more toward the entire Division.
They hired him recently after he left the Army, and he agreed to stay on as the host for the military radio program.
"Having served with the Screaming Eagles on and off the battlefield as a Soldier combat correspondent allows to me to have an instant rapport with them and enables me to effectively bring out their emotions during our interviews. I am honored and humbled to still be able to tell the Soldier story, absolutely," he said.
"What I personally enjoy about this hour of the show is we take what can easily be an information-overload discussion and turn it into a relate-able, interactive and conversational talk amongst real people …the listening audience is guaranteed to be informed, entertained and given a front row listening view into the lives of a 101st and Fort Campbell Soldier."
Padula said the partnership of the Division, Fort Campbell Garrison, and the Clarksville radio station --which he dubbed, "The Big Three - is monumental in creating effective community outreach and command information.
"With the tightening of the military budget, shutdowns, furloughs, sequestrations, it is imperative to ensure the Soldier story continues to be told to an audience as large as possible and "the Big Three" are making that happen on a scale never before seen," he said.
The program's concept is straightforward. In the coming weeks, each of the Division brigades will feature a guest during the first hour of the program. The topics are intended to cover the gamut, and can even include re-enlistments or military promotions on air.
The second hour of the program will be split each week between Fort Campbell and Blanchfield Army Community Hospital, as they bring in guest to discuss issues that are relevant to the garrison and health environment.
The premiere show featured the 101st Airborne Division Band and its Sounds of Acoustic Recovery (SOAR) project, a group created to assist in the healing of wounded Soldiers through the use of playing instruments and creating music; and clinicians from BACH, which highlighted National Depression Awareness Month and National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Sgt Michael Kiese, a guitar instructor with the SOAR program, led a small group of aspiring musicians through the interview. The band (quickly named, "the Awesomes" for the program) performed two songs for the listening audience, "Under the Boardwalk", and "Chasing Cars," by the band Snow Patrol.
Kiese said what has made the project so successful is music's ability to draw people together.
"It's a communal thing that helps people get along with each other," he said. "When you start to do it as a profession, it becomes a job and it takes on different aspects. What I love about SOAR is that it's therapy for them. By giving them the gift of music, they can take that with them once they leave the Army."
Padula said he believes having the guests on the program telling their stories helps with their recovery. "I back that up with the smiles and laughs we shared during the interview," he said."