Meet KCDML’s new Audio Production Expert: Marvin Lyman

President of the Black Economic Union, Marvin Lyman is poised to mentor youth who participate in after-school programs offered by the Kansas City Digital Media Lab.

“The same access to high quality technology that’s available in suburban areas should also be present in urban areas,” Lyman tells KCDML AmeriCorps VISTA Angelica DeSimio. “We’ll work together to deliver a quality educational service to our young people.”

For Lyman, this position goes beyond giving suggestions to youth on how to record and edit content.

“If we as professionals, keep young people as our focus and intentionally create learning opportunities, we can transform the economic base of communities which are often forgotten about.”

With a head for business and a heart for growing the Kansas City community, Lyman will join KCDML’s Manager Andrea Ellis and Associate Marcus Brown to develop curriculum and build an audio production studio at the Southeast Branch of the Kansas City Public Library.

Lyman believes this partnership will begin to uplift urban and disenfranchised people, starting with the youth. “I applaud the Kansas City Public Library leadership for having the fortitude and heart to address (this) issue within the black and urban community in Kansas City.”

Interview highlights

On how Lyman got started in audio production

I was a Congressional Intern for the Senate Republican Conference in Washington D.C. back in 1996. The SRC had three difference departments: graphic art and design, radio production and television production. I was able to work in all three of those areas as a young college student. (I worked in) radio production, recording soundbytes, editing those and distributing them to radio stations across the country. When I moved back to Kansas City, I worked at Genesis School (link) and helped build their digital recording studio, taught radio production, and adapted the studio so we could record music, and generate greater interest in writing for the students.

On being described by a colleague

How would someone describe me? They would describe me as a conscientious person, caring about the community. I am a people person, I’m a servant, a devout father of two little girls. I’m a fighter of those who are disenfranchised, and of those who are often forgotten. If there’s something I believe in, I go after it. I’m very optimistic. I see the good in people, and I see the possibility in life.

Advice to people interested in audio production

I would challenge people to listen to talk radio. You get an awareness of how to carry on a conversation. Talk radio is live – you don’t get a do-over. Whatever mistakes you make, people hear you in your realest form. If you listen to those types of shows, you can begin to pick up on what preparation needs to take place before you get to the studio.  Young people think of going to the studio like, “I’m gonna go in and I’m gonna record.” There’s a lot of planning that goes into it – mentally, emotionally, and even mechanically when you’re writing down what you’re going to present. It’s one thing to be able to give information, it’s another thing to give it in a way that appeals to your audience.

On people who inspire Lyman

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Myron Fears from the Carter Broadcast Group. When I started working at Genesis School, he was very instrumental in teaching me about radio and music production. Another key figure would be DonJuan. DonJuan is one of the unsung music heroes in Kansas City. He has launched several careers, including TechN9ne and an integral figure in the 57th Street Rogue Dog Villains. I would go to his house, to his studios, and learn more about mixing music, trying to get the right quality of sound, determining the right kind of set up to get the right input. (I)t’s not just about editing, you’ve got to have something good to work with before you get to the editing stage of music and sound. It’s like baking a cake. You can’t start off with spoiled ingredients.

On Lyman’s background in mentoring

One of the things I learned at Genesis School was that if I wanted students to write better, I also needed them to read more. I needed them to not just read comic books, but books that contain substance – magazines, newspaper articles – things that related to modern happenings. To generate that interest, I had to offer them a caveat, which was music production. That allowed the students to do what they wanted to do, and to research. As they performed their research, then they could expand vocabulary skills, they could expand the topics they rapped about. It had a great effect on their total outlook. They saw that music was not just an art, but also could be a tool to address the needs within their community, and was a means for them to increase their knowledge.

On the relationship between digital media and youth

You look at how technology has changed and it’s remarkable. I went to the best high school in Kansas City – Lincoln Prep, but we didn’t have the Internet. I wasn’t exposed to the World Wide Web until I entered College at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. My first teaching job was in Minnesota, and I was teaching 11th grade Advanced American Literature. The students we all surprised that I did not have Internet in high school, and I was just a few years older than they were.

The student’s role now is to be responsible with digital media, and to think of ways to do good with technology, to think of how to improve people’s lives; technology should be for making things better. Not easier per say, because we don’t want to lose our ability to decipher information, or to think critically. If we could reach out into communities here in Kansas City and address their needs, it would transform people’s lives for the better.