Warren Odess-Gillette of Baha’i Perspective

For 18 years, VFR member and automator Warren Odess-Gillett has been making sure the right programs play at the right times every week.

Get to know more about Warren in this Q & A interview. Read on!

Interview by Miasha Lee

What is the name of your show, the premise and when it airs?

My show is called “A Bahá’í Perspective.” It airs on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m., and I interview people who have either chosen the Bahá’í faith as a way of life or who have a relationship with the Bahá’í faith.

What is Bahá’í faith and what does it mean to you?

The Baha’i Faith is a world faith that has three basic tenets:

God is One – we all worship the same god regardless of what we call god (e.g., Great Spirit, Jehovah, Allah, etc.)

Humankind is One – we have reached the age of maturity to realize the potential that we are all one human family (“The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens”).

Religion is One – god reveals his message from age to age in a progressive manner like school. This message is communicated to us via the world’s great religious founders: Abraham, Moses, Christ, Mohammad, Buddha, Krishna [and others that are part of Indigenous cultures]. I became a Baha’i when I was eighteen looking for a spiritual community that shared my most treasured values and I have been a Baha’i ever since.

How many days do you automate?

Editor noteautomation is software that helps our radio station stay on air 24/7 between live programs. Automation requires weekly maintenance.

I automate three days a week (Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday). Technology has changed over the years. Initially, you had to be at the station to put the program files into the automation application, but now it’s so much simpler because you can do everything at home. You don’t even need to interface with the automation program. I can put files in a certain location and a folder structure. That’s all I need to do.

What town are you from and did you always aspire to be in radio programming?

I’m from Hadley, MA and I’ve been living there for 29 years. After I graduated high school, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do. At first, I thought I wanted to be an engineer; then to be a social worker and then I thought about psychology, so I left college for a year. I went back to college to study special education for a year and a half, but I wasn’t cut out for that. All of this took place in the Baltimore area. After that I moved to Connecticut and tried engineering again. I studied electrical engineering at the University of Hartford. I had no intention of going into radio at all. It just came to be.

How did you first hear about Valley Free Radio?

David Gowler, one of the founding members of Valley Free Radio, told me about a new station coming on the air and if I was interested, propose a program. I thought, what an opportunity to get the Bahá’í message out there on the airwaves. I started interviewing local Bahá’í’s and then I was able to broaden my interviewee base by using Skype. I’ve been doing that since 2006 and I have had about 500 interviews.

What made you want to automate other shows?

To be a VFR member you have to have a job and since I was familiar with the automation technology to load my own pre-recorded program, I was happy to take on the responsibility of automating certain periods of time. At first it started with Saturdays. Then on Tuesdays and at some point, it expanded to the whole weekend as well as Tuesdays. It was going to be a job that I can do for Valley Free Radio in order to have my program. That would be a perfect fit for me, and it’s been a great job.

What’s the most interesting thing that happened while you were automating?

I don’t know if this is funny or not, you have to connect remotely to the computer that hosts the automation software. I thought I had disconnected myself and then I was going to shut down my own computer. I wasn’t disconnected, so I shut down the automation computer instead and nothing was playing on the air. I frantically called Bob Gardner who lives close by the station and told him what happened, and he graciously went over there and got things started again. Now, I’m a lot more careful when it comes to that kind of thing.

Editor note: we still have a dedicated office computer that needs to stay on 24/7 for this task!

What is the biggest technological enhancement you’ve seen in automating?

The biggest technology enhancement I appreciate is being able to log in remotely because it makes facilitating the automation process that much easier. If there’s an opening for somebody to automate a particular day, I highly recommend taking that job because you can do it at home on your computer and they’ve made it so much simpler.

What has been the most rewarding or fulfilling part of this entire experience?

Getting to know the radio technology, which was very mysterious to me. I remember the first day I did my program I had to switch on the microphone and be on the air. It was scary because now everybody can hear me from all over and it’s just been rewarding to understand how radio is done and to work with good people at Valley Free Radio that were very helpful and understanding especially if I made a mistake when I automated. It’s amazing to be able to work with a station that appreciates what I do and what I contribute.