Saturday, December 01, 2007

Wayne Kelly's tips for being on the radio

In advance of my being a guest on the Travel'n On Radio Show, hosted by Ian and Tonya Fitzpatrick on 630 WMAL, I reviewed the fantastic set of tips from professional radio broadcaster, Wayne Kelly, whose website, is devoted to useful public relations resources.

From Wayne's Kelly's online tutorial:

Use these preparation hints for any interview. With this checklist you will remind yourself of the things you have to do to be a great guest.

1. Remember: Radio is about telling stories.

• The best storytellers are expressive. They can be serious, funny, angry or sad.
• The best stories are simple. Avoid statistics and numbers unless you really need them to illustrate a point.
• The best storytellers talk about people and emotions by describing thoughts and emotions.
• They do not regurgitate boring facts.

2. When preparing for any interview, ask yourself the following questions:

• What is my message?
• Does every detail pass the “So what?” Test? You have to share with listeners why they should care about your topic.
• What are the key points I want to express? (Up to four.)
• Do I have interesting ways of telling my story? Remember that failure stories are as inspirational as success stories. It makes you human, and listeners like that.

3. Remind yourself of these points:

• Tell the truth.
• Avoid a yes or no response unless you are asked for one.
• Ums and ahs kill a great story. Try avoiding them as much as you can.
• Avoid reading from prepared statements. Throw away the long notes and give the interview from the heart. It works every time.

4. When being interviewed:

• Keep your answers simple and brief.
• Be sincere.
• Find a way to get your message out.
• Be nice. Do not get angry with a poor interviewer.
• Always attempt an answer. Do not leave the host hanging.
• Be funny when it is appropriate.
• Use the host’s name if you get a chance.

5. Mechanics (if you’re in the studio):

• Do not rock or swivel in your chair.
• Match the host’s energy level.
• Speak closely to the microphone but avoid popping your Ps by avoiding direct contact with the microphone.
• If you are holding a pen, do not click it throughout the interview. (It is amazing what nerves make us do)

6. Mechanics (if you’re on the phone):

• Speak clearly into the mouthpiece (This may sound silly but many people hold the mouthpiece under their chin)
• Do not use speaker phone as the quality is terrible
• Do not use a cell phone as the drops and delays can sometimes make it sound very weird and nothing sounds worse than you constatntly saying “Pardon?” because you couldn’t hear the host.
• Stay out of the bathroom…there is too much echo. (Don't laugh...people have done it)

Wayne Kelly
© 2004 - 2007 On-Air All rights reserved.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A trip to Farragut North is a journey back in time as well as foundation for the future

When I was in high school, each summer I worked at a Washington, D.C., law firm headquartered across the street from the Farragut North metro station. As a teenager, it was thrilling to dress up (think early 80's styles), take the subway downtown from Bethesda and go to work in the nation's capital. Emerging from the subway, I loved joining the flow of hustling business people packing the sidewalks on Connecticut Avenue.

Today, I got to enjoy Farragut North again, but with a new twist: I met with two National Geographic travel editors to discuss book proposals. Larry Porges and Barbara Noe (pictured right) and I discussed ideas over lunch at the Tabard Inn. Of course, I can't tell you the top secret ideas, but I will happily point to the NGS books they have published thus far to give you an idea of their titles.

Coming up soon - details so you can tune into the Travel'n On Radio Show this Saturday, Dec. I will be one of the featured guests on the topics of travel, fitness and travel writing.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Halloween on the Wharf, Santa Cruz, CA, October 31, 2007 - Karen emcees as Carmen Miranda

One of the highlights my Halloween every year is emceeing the City of Santa Cruz's Halloween on the Wharf. On a gloriously sunny afternoon, I dressed to the hilt in my Carmen Miranda costume and announced the Kid's Costume Contest. Here are a few photos taken by my beau, Norman Field. For more Halloween photos from Norman, visit his gallery at Pbase.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival

Karen embraces a handsome specimen at the 37th Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival.

Adventure Travel World Summit 2007 - highlights

Friday, October 5, Whistler, British Columbia — Don George (red sweater), Everett Potter and I formed a media panel and did a 90-minute presentation entitled "How to Tap into the Influential Freelance Writer Market and Improve your Public Relations Strategies."
To indicate it was time for questions and answers from the audience, I put on my bike helmet, in tribute to the conference's host city, Whistler, famous not only for its skiing, but also mountain biking.

Photo credits for the media panel photos go to Drew Simmons of Pale Morning Media LLC, in Waitsfield, Vermont.

Adventure Travel World Summit 2007

For full collection of photos from Canada, visit:
the photos on my

A Taste of Fat Tire Adventure in Whistler

My mountain biking debut in Canada was just like in the movies! After years of watching radical riders tackle the legendary mossy green trails of British Columbia in the Banff Mountain Film Festival, I knew just what to expect on a steep singletrack trail: lots of elevated, narrow wooden bridges to navigate.

My Saturday, Oct. 6 afternoon ride with a group of participants from the Adventure Travel World Summit was tame by Banff Mountain Film standards, but the adrenalin factor was still high. Our ride leaders, Chris Ford and Grant Lamont, from Whistler Bike Guide, took us on a fun maze of singletrack trails. Our 3-hour bike tour took us by Lost Lake and other scenic spots not far from Whistler Village.

My favorite part of riding was the challenge of crossing the wooden-planked bridges, which were narrow, uneven and twisty. I stayed on course on five of the six bridges I crossed in the woods: one one bridge, I dropped a foot off the side of the bridge but managed to stay upright on my bike.

When a heavy rain started to fall, it was time to head back. I was happy to have a taste of cross country adventure in a town where downhill mountain biking is king. Whistler Bike Guides plan to offer guided one-day and multi-cross-country tours in 2008. Check them out: Whistler Bike Guide.

The trip was sponsored by Outside Magazine as part of the third annual Adventure Travel World Summit, hosted by the Adventure Travel Trade Association.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Adventure Skydiving in Hollister

My friend Christian wanted to do something "he had always dreamed of" to celebrate his 40th birthday this past September. The party entertainment? Skydiving! Fortunately, he knew where to go to get expert instruction: Adventure Center Skydiving in Hollister, out only eight of the 100+ guests invited took the host up on his unusual birthday offer. I am glad I lived to tell about it!

Special thanks to Sebastien Nicolas, my tandem skydive instructor. He had a great sense of humor paired with solid experience. Plus, we had fun talking about what his fiance, Sarah, thinks of his job (she thinks it's cool!). My fiance, Norman, was on the airplane with me, also about to do his first tandem jump.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Skydiving - here I come!

Santa Cruz, CA —
Instead of my usual Saturday morning yoga class in Santa Cruz, I am about to go skydiving in Hollister instead! It was not my idea of a relaxing weekend morning, but when my good friend Christian Fine invited Norman and me and 163 other of his closest friends, to celebrate his 40th birthday with "one of those things I always wanted to do" - how could we refuse? Actually, all but 8 of us declined his invitation. At 10 a.m. this morning, we will all meet at Hollister Airport (about a 45-minute drive from Santa Cruz) and jump out of a perfectly good ariplane from 18,000 feet. I will let you know how it goes, hopefully...

Although it's morbid to consider my funeral arrangements before I leave this morning, if I don't make it back to complete this blog entry after my first tandem skydive jump with Adventure Skydiving, Inc., know that I want the cause of death stated in my obituary: "Karen jumped off of a perfectly good airplane at 18,000 feet up and she had a great time — 'til the end."

Not surprisingly, I am not the first person to ponder the wisdom of the jump - Adventure Skydiving helpfully addresses the issue in their Frequently Asked Questions section of their website:

Is Skydiving Dangerous?
Of course it's dangerous. You get out of a plane three miles above the earth. And gravity does work, in fact, it rules supreme. The only thing between a skydiver and "deceleration trauma" is a chunk of nylon about the size of your living room. Which part of not being dangerous was unclear?

Is It Safe?
Ahhh...a much better question.
Adventure Center Skydiving owns the latest student, solo, and tandem gear. All of the equipment used at Adventure Center Skydiving is serviced and maintained by FAA certified technicians of the highest ratings. The parachutes are packed by professionals, the reserves packed and repacked even if unused (it's not only a good idea, it's the law). Although an inherently dangerous sport, just as driving a car is an inherently dangerous activity (you did know that, right?), we take every precaution to assure your safety while on our drop zone. Do you drive with bad brakes and bald tires?

So, the short answer is that the sport of skydiving has been made as safe as possible. And at Adventure Center Skydiving, we take every precaution possible before, during, and after your skydive.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Air and Space story on Burning Man

Burning Man's Magic Airport

Watch the Burning Man revelers pull an airport out of the desert…then make it disappear.
By Chad Slattery.
My mom emailed me the link to this wonderful article from Air and Space. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Love-Hate Affair at Burning Man 2007

My first Burning Man experience was a love-hate affair. During my five-day stay in Black Rock Desert in Nevada, (Monday, Aug. 27 to Friday, August 31) my feelings fluctuated between jubilation and loathing. I loved the spirit of freedom, the fabulous art cars and massive art installations. My primary interest in attending was to view the incredible sculptures and buildings I had seen in pictures for years - what I saw in the dusty desert actually surprassed my expectations. However, I hated the constant cacophony of contrasting music that thumped through the playa past 2 a.m. and started again at 6 a.m. for a pagan sunrise ritual. Though I was massively sleep-deprived, I am absolutely glad I went because it is an experience I will always remember. Will I go again? The verdict is still out! More soon.. For more of my Burning Man 2007 photos, visit

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Burning Man - Off to the Playa!

At home in Santa Cruz, Norman models a pink wig, gas mask and goggles - what he will wear when a dust storm hits in the desert. We leave on Sunday, August 26, to drive to Black Rock Desert in Nevada. We plan to carpool with Cory and John to honor the theme of Burning Man 2007 - "The Green Man," an emphasis on global sustainability. For now, we are packing costumes, outdoor wear for cold nights and hot days, camping gear and of course, toilet paper. The only thing supplied on the playa is porta potties. We will take 2 gallons of water per person per day to drink. Our quartet - all newbies to Burning Man, will join a group of 30 from Santa Cruz, a group named the Twisted Quackers. Although we have packed for plenty of 24-hour bike races, packing for this event has been an unprecedented challenge! Yet, we think all the preparation is worthwhile and anticipate our first Burning Man will be a wild adventure!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Tufa towers at Mono Lake, CA

Mono Lake is one of my favorite places in Northern California. On a recent camping trip at Convict Lake in Inyo National Forest, Norman and I made a point of taking a 30-minute drive to Mono Lake for sunset. Here are a few of my photos.

Friday, June 29, 2007

24 Hours of Adrenalin + Hula Hooping!

Saturday, June 9 - Sunday, June 10
Laguna Seca Raceway, Monterey, CA—

At 10:15 p.m. I set off on my first night lap—I had not done any night mountain bike riding since the 2006 24 Hours race. I was nervous, but also excited to ride under the stars. As part of a 5-woman relay team, Go Go Go Girls, I had been designated the last rider in our rotation. I had only completed one lap before this night time lap and did not know the course well. My daytime lap had gone okay —although only 10 minutes into that ride, I lost the left lens of my sunglasses. It bounced out of the frames and vanished in the tall grass along a steep rutted section. That section of the race course would return to haunt me at night.

My Crash

I was feeling confident and strong for the first 15 minutes of my first night lap. Then I smashed face-first onto the dirt trail. I flipped over the handlebars and BOOM—breath knocked out of me, my face in the dirt, the grit coating my lips and teeth. I lay moaning, terrified. Upon impact pain had shot up my jaw and neck. I slowly picked myself up and moved to the side of the steep trail - the same spot where I had lost my sunglasses lens. I stood there debating whether to call it quits. I could easily walk back to the start line. I looked down and saw blood streaming from my right knee.

I looked like a massive dust-powdered doughnut with some cherry filling leaking out. Grit filled my gloves and shoes. A kind rider stopped to see how I was. He stuck with me and eventually took off. I stood still, shaken. Another rider went by and called out: "Are you ok?" at the top of the descent. "Yes, I am ok," I assured him with more confidence than I felt. I turned to watch this considerate cyclist navigate the steep section skillfully. In the dim light of my headlamp, I was amazed to recognize the red helmet and Team Santa Cruz jersey: It was my fiance Norman riding by! "Norman, it's me!" I shouted as he flew downhill. No reply. Only the sound of his bouncing chain. My heart sunk.

Pivotal Moment
I really wanted to cry, but I latched onto a more powerful desire: to win the Midnight Hula Hoop Contest! The race organizers were hosting the first-ever 2007 24 Hours of Adrenalin midnight Hula Hoop contest. Despite my bloody and swollen knees, dusty face and shattered confidence, I walked and rode back to the start/finish area as fast I could, determined to get to that contest to prove myself. Many of you know, I can hoop with the best of them! On the long ride back to camp, Santa Cruz solo rider Sean Sullivan insisted on stopping to make sure I did not have a concussion.

I rode hard to get back to camp by 11:50 p.m. I passed Norman's tent, which was on the race course. Miraculously, he was there and not out on the race course. "Norman, that was me!" I said, "The one who crashed." He was going so fast and did not hear me when I called his name. His heart was breaking when he saw me covered in dirt. I told him that he had been very kind to offer to help a "stranger" in the night during his grueling solo effort and that all was ok. We briefly rode our bikes hand and hand before we parted. He continued racing and I had handed the baton to my teammate, Rita. Then I went to the Hula Contest.

So You Think You Can Hula?

"Whoa! What happened to you?" the race announcer and hula hoop contest emcee asked. "I did a faceplant on the trail," I said. "Wow!" he said, eyeballing my dust covered body and face.

I downed two pieces of hot corn, helped round up a few other hula contestants and we were underway! The ground rules were declared: he/she who hoops the longest is the winner! I knew I could hula hoop til dawn if need be. Soon enough, I out hooped the others, even showing my special John Travolta disco moves while hooping. I felt victorious!

My moment of triumph at the 24 Hours of Adrenaline mountain bike race had arrived in the unlikely form of being the Hula Hoop Winner. My prize? A pair of fleece shorts, donated by Cowboy, the owner of Fuzzy Duds. I chose the most outrageous multi colored paisley shorts I could find.

Then I sought medical attention for my wounds. A big thanks to Marc, the famous brewer and Mel's fiance, for generously volunteering to take a midnight stroll and look all over for the nearly-impossible-to-find first aid tent.

Grand Finale
I hobbled back to camp well after midnight and woke up Michiko for her lap. The pain was setting in and I went to clean off my wounds in the light of the nearby bathroom. I was horrified to see that both my knees were grotesquely swollen. My left in particular looked like it had sprouted a lemon on top of the knee cap. I knew my race was over when I saw that. I got ice packs out, left the Go Go Go Girls team a note that I would touch base in the morning but it looked doubtful I would ride again that day. I went to sleep about 2 a.m. and slept soundly til 5:30 a.m.

I got up then to find Rita preparing to go out on a lap. That was one of the lowest points of the race for me—I was physically unable to go, or more precisely, I could have gone, but the outcome for my knee could have been serious. It was a big risk. Nevertheless, by taking care of myself, I felt like I was letting the team down. I felt sad, which fatigue and injury can heighten. Rita assured me it was fine that she ride in my place, but I was disappointed—for the team and for myself—the dawn lap is a glorious time to be on the trail while the rest of the world sleeps on a Sunday morning...

Our team captain Henri was unwavering that this was the 100 percent right decision for me not to race with my bashed knees. I felt better and she was thrilled by my hula hoop contest story and goofy shorts. I shifted moods and dedicated myself to being our team photographer for the remaining few laps.

I also had a better chance to monitor Norman's incredible progress in his solo 24 hour race. He had ridden steadily through the night, no sleep, supported by a great crew at camp that included Mark, Evan, Eric and Darik, who were also assisting Melanie Dominguez. I am happy to report that both Norman and Melanie had stunning finishes in their respective solo categories: Norman, 3rd place in the men's solo division, Melanie, 3rd place in the women's. Incredible results against steep competition! Bravo! It was also exciting to see Team Cloud Nine, consisting of dear friends Cory and John Caletti, and their teammates Dan'O, Eric and James win 2nd place in their tough 5-person co-ed category.

Awards Ceremony
I offer a final salute to my fantastic teammates: Henrietta, our Team Captain, from Pacific Grove, Rita Leon of Team Santa Cruz, Michiko of Berkeley, Yvette of NorCal! You guys were super fine Go Go Go Girls. To Barbara, our team volunteer, we could not have done it without you. It was a pleasure to have our moment of fame as Third Place winners in the 5-woman category!

For full event photos, visit:

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Puerto Vallarta Mexico, December 2006

The Festival of Guadalupe was in its final two days when Norman and I arrived in Puerto Vallarta on December 11. We walked the cobblestone streets to the plaza and church and watched for hours as processions of colorful dancers, singers, mariachis and groups paraded to the church to worship.

Other highlights of our visit included: parasailing, a jungle canopy tour and an hour's boat taxi to Yelapa. We have posted more photos at Norman's pbase website

Hasta luego!