Skip Alan Smith
At first glance, to look at Skip you might think he's a little crazy, unpredictable, eccentric or "over the top." To talk to him for a while you'll find he's a little crazy, unpredictable, eccentric, and "over the top." How did that happen?
"When I was growing up I wanted to be a professional musician--a drummer to be exact--which makes the intent even funnier to some of my musician buddies. They would say, 'Drummers aren't musicians.' My Dad told me if I wanted to be a professional drummer, I better learn how to play as good or better than Buddy Rich or Gene Krupa, that is if I didn't want to starve. He told me to get a 'real' job."
So after 25+ years in an Engineering career, that includes experiences like the International Space Station, Stanford Linear Accelerator, Cold Fusion projects, Telecommunication and Spy Satellites, Nuclear Power and Weapons and the Alaskan Pipeline, he stopped.
Why? To go back to his "real" job, music, acting, and voice-over. "In the Fall of 1997, I quit engineering to pursue careers that are more fun. When I talk to people about what I did for gainful employment I say, 'I have proudly helped to spend billions of your taxpayer dollars.' But, when you really think about it, most of the stuff I naively worked on wasn't helping anyone. When I was involved, I really believed it was cool and the right thing to do. Now that I realize what my government has done with those 'toys,' I see they have been used to kill, or ruin the lives of millions of people around the world."
How and why did you come to KVMR?
"I looked at it as being a good way to 'keep up my chops' for the voice work and acting I was doing in San Francisco. Then a conversation with Steve Baker in 1998 changed all that. He said, 'You know there's no American Indian music on KVMR...' So to quote Jimmy Accardi 'my head caved in.' What a great way to fix some of my mistakes; do a program that honors the music, history and culture of Indigenous people--even better, do it in the same region of California that was most directly responsible for their destruction.
He goes on to say, " The Indians got it right, 'Honor Mother Earth.' America's way of life is clearly unsustainable. If we kill our planet, we as a species go with it. People might think the 'oil wars are bad, wait until we have 'water wars.'" He's not suggesting we step back 10,000 years, but things better change quickly. "Indigenous people all over the world are facing the same things that started here in 1492. It's time we honor the wisdom and knowledge of those cultures".
Is Skip eccentric, unpredictable and "over the top"? He would answer, "Yes, Dreamwalk has been on the air for 5+ years now. I never 'plan out' a program. I like the spontaneity of the listener's input; they direct the program while I'm on the air. That makes good radio, in my opinion. I've started with the music adding in small doses of the culture, history and politics. If the listeners want it, I'll add more. I love it when people call me while I'm doing the program and say, 'that's not Indian music!' My answer is, 'What is Indian music? Isn't it music made by Indians?'"