Mike Lee

Senior Producer: Arts Eclectic, Get Involved, Sonic IDs

Mike is a features producer at KUT, where he’s been working since his days as an English major at the University of Texas. He produces Arts Eclectic, Get Involved, and the Sonic ID project, and also produces videos and cartoons for kut.org. When pressed to do so, he’ll write short paragraphs about himself in the third person, but usually prefers not to.

Several years ago, he featured a young dancer on his Arts Eclectic program, and she was so impressed by his interviewing skills that she up and married him. Now they enjoy traveling, following their creative whims, and spending time with their dogs.

Henry Melton is no newcomer to comic or sci-fi conventions. He's a lifelong science fiction fan, and he's been going to cons for decades now. But starting about ten years ago, he's gone not as a fan but as an artist. That's around the time he started self-publishing his own sci-fi books, which he says fall roughly into two categories.

There are his several young adult adventures, which tend to feature young protagonists who "run up against something unusual," he says. "Time travel, teleportation, portals to other worlds, all that kind of fun stuff. And then they have to solve the problem [and] dig themselves out of trouble."

And then there's his "Project Saga," an ongoing series that's at nine books so far, with (probably) six more to go. That saga starts in present day Austin, and goes on to feature aliens, supernovae, the destruction of technology on earth, and humans who have been captured and moved off world. It's a pretty ambitious undertaking. 

"The world doesn't need another... how-to manual on how to be creative," says musician Darden Smith while discussing his new book The Habit of Noticing: Using Creativity to Make a Life (and a Living). "I think there's some really good ones out there, and I don't even know how to do it, so I don't know how to write it."

The StoryCorps mobile booth was in Austin in January, and we’re bringing you some of the stories that were recorded there. Locally recorded stories will air on Monday mornings during Morning Edition and archived here.

Cristina Helmerichs sat down in the StoryCorps mobile booth with her good friend Bibi Lobo. They talked about Cristina’s longstanding job as a court interpreter, but started by talking a bit about her family history.

"The first one [was] 30 Dates, and then the next one was  30 Loves. and the next was 30 Trips," says artistic director Leng Wong about Lucky Chaos Productions' ongoing series of short plays. For their fourth entry in the '30 Somethings' series (and the first one since 2015), the company is looking at the subject of heroes and heroism.

The StoryCorps mobile booth was in Austin in January, and we’re bringing you some of the stories that were recorded there. Locally recorded stories will air on Monday mornings during Morning Edition and archived here.

The StoryCorps mobile booth was in Austin in January, and we’re bringing you some of the stories that were recorded there. Locally recorded stories will air on Monday mornings during Morning Edition and archived here.

Sandra Molinari and Lisa Pous are friends and co-workers at the SAFE Alliance, which serves the survivors of child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual assault. But when they met, Sandra was a staff member at SafePlace and Lisa was a client. They sat down in the StoryCorps mobile booth to talk about their relationship and their history.

From Austin Youth River Watch, this month's Get Involved spotlight organization:  

Austin Youth River Watch transforms and inspires youth through environmental education, community engagement, and adventure. As a result of our work, youth are better prepared to create positive outcomes for themselves and the environment, ensuring a better future for all.

Playwright Lisa B. Thompson wrote the play Monroe in the nineties, when she was still a graduate student. For years, the work went unproduced, largely because Thompson herself overlooked it, thinking of it, in her words, as "an early play... how good could it be?"

But that changed earlier this year when Thompson finally revisited the play, which is set in rural Louisiana during the Great Migration. "I had a good friend in California who kept saying to me, 'What about Monroe? Send it out! Send it out!,' and I'm glad I listened," Thompson says. 

Monroe became one of the winners of Austin Playhouse's 2018 New Play Festival, and was chosen by artistic director Lara Toner Haddock to open its 2018-2019 season. She's directing the world premiere production.

The StoryCorps mobile booth was in Austin in January, and we’re bringing you some of the stories that were recorded there. Locally recorded stories will air on Monday mornings during Morning Edition and archived here.

Close friends Emily Seales and Stacey Thompson sat down with each other in the StoryCorps mobile booth to talk about their friendship, and how they’ve bonded during the weekly walks they’ve taken together over the past several years.

"For the past little-over-a-year, I've been inspired by this house that's the Smoot Mansion," says artist Valerie Fowler. "Now it's called the Flower Hill Foundation and it's a historic Austin home, right on West Sixth Street, that's becoming a museum."

The StoryCorps mobile booth was in Austin in January, and we’re bringing you some of the stories that were recorded there. Locally recorded stories will air on Monday mornings during Morning Edition and archived here.

Vanessa Lozano-Sanchez spent some time in the StoryCorps mobile booth with her mother, Marión Sanchez. Marión was born in Venezuela and came to the United States as a teenager in the 1980s.

"It's not personal experience for me," playwright Raul Garza says of his new work, There and Back. "But it's a story that's told from a personal point of view, as opposed to something about statistics or policy only."

With There and Back, Garza is attempting to give a human face to the story of immigration. "Obviously -- obviously if you could see and the group -- that's the background that I'm from, Mexican-American. But the experience that we see in the play is not one that I had directly. It's one I saw a lot growing up. It's one that a lot of us, especially from South Texas and Central Texas see in our everyday lives. But we never really get to look at it closely from the viewpoint of the person experiencing it firsthand."

Andy St. Martin

This weekend (and this weekend only), artist Andy St. Martin is showing a collection of new works at Prizer Arts & Letters. "The last year or two, I've decided to try and focus on working on paper," St. Martin says. "And I don't have to prepare that so much -- it's almost like making watercolors. You get the paper out [and] if you have the paint, you can go to work."

From Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, this month's Get Involved spotlight organization:  

Did you know that live music is not only part of Austin's cultural identity, but also an essential economic engine for our city, bringing in billions of dollars through live performances each year? In maintaining this vital identity, it is important for us, as a community, to ensure our musicians are alive and well, and able to keep playing that music we all love.

The StoryCorps mobile booth was in Austin in January, and we’re bringing you some of the stories that were recorded there. Locally recorded stories will air on Monday mornings during Morning Edition and archived here.

Sisters Tiffany and Tara Lee sat down together in the StoryCorps mobile booth to share some memories of their mother and grandmother, and to talk about their close sibling bond.

"On all fronts, I've been affected by gentrification," says Zell Miller III. "As a teacher who has a kid who lives in Kyle, or they live in Del Valle. ... I've got kids from Round Rock, man, because their families cannot afford rent anywhere in the city."

Miller, who's an educator by day and also a multifaceted writer and performer, has seen the effects of gentrification for years in Austin, and that worries him. 

"And I know that what tends to happen... when they begin to gentrify areas is that you get over-policing of a particular area, so then you have that issue going on," Miller says. "So all of those aspects caused me to write this show."

The StoryCorps mobile booth was in Austin in January, and we’re bringing you some of the stories that were recorded there. Locally recorded stories will air on Monday mornings during Morning Edition and archived here.

Chris Kirk sat down in the StoryCorps mobile booth with his father, Randy Kirk. Chris was interested in hearing more about what he considers an “almost mythical” period in his father’s life — the years between Randy’s graduation from UT in 1967 and Chris’s birth in 1974.

The StoryCorps mobile booth was in Austin in January, and we’re bringing you some of the stories that were recorded there. Locally recorded stories will air on Monday mornings during Morning Edition and archived here.

Pilar Sanchez was joined in the mobile booth by her husband, John Hernandez. They talked about the different ways they raised and how they’re raising their eight-year-old daughter, Victoria, who joined them in the booth. They all also weighed in on the correct pronunciation of Pilar’s first name.

"I hadn't painted in almost twenty years," says Robert Kane Herrera. "[For La Raza] was.. one of the last murals I ever painted." Together with fellow artist Oscar Cortez, Herrera created For La Raza in 1992. This year, the two were hired by Austin's Art in Public Places Program to restore the beloved eastside mural.

Twenty years ago, with a young but growing family, Herrera stopped painting to pursue steadier and better-paying work as electrician. Now that his kids are older, he's got a little more time in his schedule to get back to his artistic roots. "I get to be me again," he says. "Or at least who I thought I was."

"We initially came up with the idea just as a joke," says producer/performer Linzy Beltran, who created the female-led jazz and comedy show Jazz Kween with Sarah Marine and Jessica Pyrdsa. "We were like, 'Oh, we should be Jazz Queens' ... because Sarah's from New Orleans and Jess is a musician and I do a lot of comedy in town."

"It's the second in a trilogy of dances with Austin Aquatics," says Forklift Danceworks artistic director Allison Orr, speaking about this weekend's production of Dove Springs Swims. Last summer, Forklift partnered with the city's aquatics division to present Bartholomew Swims, and next summer they'll stage a third performance at a yet-to-be-named east Austin pool.

The StoryCorps mobile booth was in Austin in January, and we’re bringing you some of the stories that were recorded there. Locally recorded stories will air on Monday mornings during Morning Edition and archived here.

Ellie Patel sat down in the StoryCorps mobile booth with her longtime best friend, Les McLain. Ellie, who is now a labor and delivery nurse, shares the story of giving birth at age seventeen and giving that baby up for adoption.

From Austin Angels, this month's Get Involved spotlight organization:  

Every child deserves love and consistency. But too many don’t receive it — especially those in our foster care system. Austin Angels is out to change that.

"This year's our sixtieth anniversary season, and that's terrific because we really get to celebrate all of the wonderful people and organizations and donors and volunteers that have all come together over the last sixty years to make us really Austin's favorite summer musical," says Zilker Theater Productions' artistic director, J. Robert Moore.

The StoryCorps mobile booth was in Austin in January, and we’re bringing you some of the stories that were recorded there. Locally recorded stories will air on Monday mornings during Morning Edition and archived here.

Karen Kelvie, age 58, recently sat down with her son Xan Bauer, who was just about to turn 21. They chatted about their life together, and about what they’ve learned from each other over the years.

Errich Petersen

"Reina has this uncanny ability to mash together hard science and the most fantastical myths that you’ve ever heard of," says director Liz Fisher of Reina Hardy, the writer of the new play The Afterparty. "That seems like a really unlikely pairing, and yet through the sort of beautiful alchemy that only she can do, she creates these stories that are beautifully human and... universal in their themes -- these ideas of love, of loss, of moving on, of hope, with a whole lot of magic."

Austin's Nook Turner started the Jump On It Summer Music Festival way back in the '90s, when he was just a teenager. Twenty-one years later, the festival has grown larger and more ambitious than ever. The fest has always featured live music (including hip hop, jazz, and R&B) and an educational component, but this year they're expanding both of those efforts.

This weekend, Spectrum Theatre Company is presenting two staged readings of the new play Juneteenth Chronicles, by local playwright Abena Edwards. The play is drawn from the actual words of former slaves, who were interviewed in 1937 by the Federal Works Project Administration. Transcripts of those interviews now reside in the Library of Congress.

The StoryCorps mobile booth was in Austin in January, and we’re bringing you some of the stories that were recorded there. Locally recorded stories will air on Monday mornings during Morning Edition and archived here.

Ernestine Balderrama Kubicek earned her Masters and Ph.D. from the University of Texas, had a long career in corporate America, and now runs her own consulting firm. But before all that, she was born in Brownwood, Texas, to a contractor father and homemaker/bookkeeper mother. She sat down in the StoryCorps mobile booth with her son, Christopher Morse, and shared some memories.

The StoryCorps mobile booth was in Austin in January, and we’re bringing you some of the stories that were recorded there. Locally recorded stories will air on Monday mornings during Morning Edition and archived here.

The founding members of the Puro Chingón Art Collective  — Claudia Aparicio-Gamundi, James Huizar, and Claudia Zapata — all sat down together in the mobile booth when it was here. Since 2012, Puro Chingón has created events, publications, designer toys, and murals, all championing Latinx art. In this conversation, they remembered the early days of Puro Chingón, which began with a self-published art journal called Chingozine.

Pages