When we book guests on Studio 11 LA, of course we look for people we think our audience will find interesting but I don't think we've ever thought about how interesting they would find one another; Maybe better put, how useful. Monday made me look at our bookings a little differently.
I had prepared to interview Dr. Josh Ruxin, Columbia University professor and an expert on self-sustaining development in third-world countries. He's written a wonderful book about moving his family to Rwanda, "A Thousand Hills to Heaven". Later in the show, we would have international superstar DJ Armin Van Buuren on to talk about the exploding popularity of Electronic Dance Music (we're still thrilled Armin came by!). Both men were great guests, although we had to interrupt Prof. Ruxin for the verdict in the Bell corruption trial of Angela Spaccia. Sorry!
Van Buuren talked of playing to millions and looking for new musical territory to conquer. Ruxin talked about all the misconceptions of Rwanda; how lush it is, filled with some of the kindest people on earth despite being only a decade removed from one of the worst genocides imaginable. After the show, Ruxin lamented how tough it is for him to get the word out about Rwanda.
Even though his book is about how he and his wife opened what has become a world-class restaurant, getting his message to the masses has been elusive. I told him, "Yeah, you need to go beyond the NPR audience" (with great respect to NPR's audience). It wasn't until both men left that I thought, Damn! Ruxin's answer was just standing next to him here in the studio! Armin Van Buuren's massive audience is all about shared experience, feeling the closeness that his music brings. What those EDM concerts lack that, say, a U2 concert does not, is a dash of greater purpose. While most agree Bono can be preachy for his causes, Armin could merely flash images of Rwandans and a text message of how to help end their poverty, maybe even a cover of Ruxin's book!
EDM transcends borders better than any modern music, so carry the message that Rwandans are no different than every pogo-stick-styled dancing twenty-something in Van Buuren's audience. They just need a hand.
So I've decided I'm going to send Dr. Ruxin and Armin Van Buuren this blog and see if together, they can make more than music.