TestingTesting – The Show

 TestingTesting is a music show that is broadcast on the web. Normally it is broadcast on Monday nights from the living room of Gordon Coale (Gordy the WebGuy™) who creates the web site and is the announcer for the show. There is a house band that usually plays a couple of pieces during the show and backs up the special guest as appropriate. The house band is Steve Showell on mandolin, guitar, fiddle; Joanne Rouse on mandolin, guitar, banjo; and Derek Parrott on guitar. Robby Cribbs from Sound Trap Studio does the sound

TestingTesting is like a radio broadcast in many ways but we recognize that this is a new medium and it is not radio or TV. One of the things that sets the Internet apart is its interactivity. TestingTesting uses a web guest book that the Internet audience can add comments to during the show and from which Gordon reads to the performers during the show. We are playing with this new medium to see what it can do.

We are expanding the concept to venues larger than Gordon’s living room that have paying customers so that there are two audiences: the audience at the venue and the audience on the Internet. One of the hallmarks of the Monday shows is the informal living room feel. This is something we tried to move to a larger stage with the Gods of Mongrel Folk at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts. (See the archive show page at http://www.electricedge.com/testingtesting/pictures/04-09-99/pictures04-9-99.htm.) It worked very well. Concerts on the web are usually treated like radio and listener is passive. We want to make the Internet audience part of the show.

The following is based on how we ran the show for the Gods of Mongrel Folk at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts and the way we propose to run the show for Christine Lavin at the South Whidbey High School Auditorium.

Stage Setting

In order to catch some of the living room feel on stage we will move Gordon Coale’s living room to the stage. The furniture and props from Gordon Coale’s living room are:

Couch, comfy chair, car hood painted with a quote from Jack Kerouac, the TestingTesting studio clock, a conga drum, a wash board, a carved flying pig suspended in front of the curtain about 12 feet above the stage, and four Persian carpets.

They can be seen on the Gods of Mongrel Folk archive show page.

Computer and Sound setup

TestingTesting is a regular show and has a format that works well with the Internet audience but does have a different setup. The announcer opens the show, introduces the acts, reads the comments from the guestbook, and closes the show for the Internet audience. To do this he must be on the stage. To read the comments from the guestbook he must use a computer logged on to the Internet. Because of this, the computer and announcer are on stage, off to the side, stage right. This is the same computer that is processing the sound for the RealAudio signal that goes to the web. The soundman is mixing the sound used by the house and the Internet. To provide a proper sound level for the Internet he needs to be able to view the computer monitor processing the sound. So the soundman is located, on stage, next to the announcer at the computer. He will provide a feed to the house sound system whose level can be set by an operator at the rear of the auditorium.

We understand this is not the optimum placement for the soundman but it is a compromise that gets us good sound for both the Internet and the house. It also adds to the theater aspects of the event in that the house audience becomes more aware that this is also going out to an Internet audience located all around the country.


The couch and comfy chair are stage left. Before the TestingTesting House Band performs they come out and sit on the couch and comfy chair as the audience is being seated. They will do three or four songs. Christine is welcome to join the House Band on the couch and comfy chair before the show starts, or she can come out and sit there while the House Band is playing or remain offstage until her show starts.

When the House Band is done they exit and the stage is Christine’s. How she wants to interact with the Internet audience is up to her.

As the show progresses the Internet audience types comments on a web page that goes to the web guest book that Gordon monitors. In between songs, where there is space, he normally will read a few of the comments reading the name, city, state, and comment. Christine and the audience can react to the comment. It will be slower for Christine to elicit direct comments from the Internet audience since they have to type them in and enter them and Gordon has to scroll through them. It usually works if a question is asked of the Internet audience to wait until the next song is done to read the responses. This is part of the show that is new for everyone and there are few rules. We would invite Christine to play with this. We also do not want to upset the rhythm of Christine’s show so we will have to work out how this will work best for Christine. Gordon usually jumps in with the comments between songs but if Christine wants to control it she could ask what the comments are when she wants to fit them in. Think about it.

Technical details

We have 100 RealAudio streams available to us. That means that 100 people on the Internet can listen at one time from anywhere in the world. If there are 100 listening then the 101st listener will not be able to get a stream. If a listener disconnects then that stream will be available for the other listener to connect to. This is for the live portion of the show.

After the show is over we will archive the show the same way we do for our other shows. To do this we do the following.

  1. The archive sound is taken from a tape of the show. We use a DAT with a cassette backup. The tape is used to create a .wav file, which is encoded into a RealAudio file that will work with a 28.8 modem. The RealAudio file can only be streamed and not downloaded. A streaming file comes over the Internet, is buffered and played out through the computer speakers and disappears. It cannot be saved as a computer file. It is also not CD quality. Listen to our archived shows to hear what it will sound like. There will be no MP3 files created or posted.
  2. There will be pictures taken during the show with a digital camera. The flash will not be used. These pictures will be posted on the archive show page.
  3. We are starting to move into RealVideo and would like to videotape the show and put up approximately 5 minutes of RealVideo clips.
  4. The guestbook will be saved with the rest of the show.

The archive show page, with the still pictures, links to Christine’s web site, the RealAudio of the entire show, RealVideo of approximately 5 minutes of clips, the guestbook, of the show, will remain up indefinitely. This page will provide a record of the show located on one page that you could link to from Christine’s web site. It usually takes one to two days to get the archived show up on the web.