Bob Bidewell is the founder, Resident Music Director, and Executive Director of The Studio Theatre in Little Rock. He has worked on over one hundred productions with community theatres in Jonesboro, Paragould, Little Rock and North Little Rock.
Prior to The Studio Theatre, Bidewell taught public school music for ten years and has served as a church musician for almost forty years. He holds both Bachelor and Master Degrees in Music from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.
Bidewell is active in the music community as a member of the Little Rock Wind Symphony, the Central Arkansas Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and currently serving as Interim Director of Music and Worship Arts for St. James United Methodist Church.
Up In Your Business is a Radio Show by FlagandBanner.com
[0:00:03.2] TB: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. Be sure to stay tuned till the end of the show to hear how you can get a copy of this program and other helpful documents.
Now, it's time for Kerry McCoy to get all up in your business.
[0:00:21.2] KM: Thank you, Tim. Like Tim said, I’m Kerry McCoy and it’s time for me to get up in your business. For the next hour my guest and I will be having a conversation of curiosity and storytelling. We hope you’ll learn something, want to get involved or be inspired to take action in your own life.
This show, Up In Your Business with Kerry McCoy began with entrepreneurs in mind, a platform for me, a small business owner and a guest to pay forward our experiential knowledge in a conversational way. As with all new endeavors, it has had some unexpected outcomes like the show is not just for entrepreneurs and want to be entrepreneurs, but for everyone. We are all inspired by everyday people’s stories of how they worked hard, took risks and found their voice. Another is that business is creative more so than I ever thought. Last, behind each of my successful guest is the heart of a teacher, and my guest today is no exception.
But before I introduce my fabulous guest, I’m going to try to get to this next part. I would like to take a moment to honor my mother, Sarah Kraus, who passed away this week at the age of 94. She was a smart woman, my mentor who played a pivotal role in the founding and the naming of Arkansas Flag & Banner. She was born during an era when sacrifice was part of life and a badge of honor. My father, Edwin Kraus, was a World War II vet, a Purple Heart recipient, who was shot down over Germany and remained a POW for two years before the war ended and he was reunited with my mom. They had three children and were married for 62 years.
Because this show is about paying our experiential knowledge forward, at the end of today’s program I want to share what I learned in the last 6 weeks as my mother lived and died in a hospital bed in my den. For all of you baby boomers who are dealing with aging parents, you will find this information comforting, and I can tell you the experience was not what I feared or expected. So stay tuned till the end of the show.
Okay! Today my guest is Mr. Bob Bidwell, founder of The Studio Theatre in Downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. You lucky listeners won’t just learn what it’s like to be a starving artist and a performer. You’ll also get the inside scoop on the life of musician turned entrepreneur. There’s money, cash flow, employees and temperamental actors to consider. You’re not want to miss our in-depth conversation about the business of show business.
If you’re just tuning in for the first time, you may be asking yourself, “What’s this lady story and why does she have a radio show?” Well, Tim is here to tell you.
[0:03:14.7] TB: Thank you, Kerry. Over 40 years ago with only $400, Kerry McCoy founded Arkansas Flag & Banner. During the last four decades, the business has grown and change dramatically from door-to-door sales, to telemarketing, to mail order and catalog sales. Now Flag & Banner relies heavily on the internet, including our newest feature, live chatting.
Each decade required a change in sales and strategy procedures. Her business and leadership knowledge grew with time and experience as well as the confidence to branch out into multimedia marketing that began with our Dreamland Ballroom nonprofit as well as our in-house publication, Brave Magazine, and now this very radio show that you’re listening to.
Each week on the show you’ll hear candid conversations between her and our guest about real-world experiences on a variety of businesses and topics we hope you’ll find interesting. Kerry often says that many business rules such as know how to treat your employees well, know your profit margin and have a succession plan can be applied across pretty much any industry.
What I find encouraging is that her example of hard work pays off. Did you know that for nine years while started Flag & Banner, she supplemented her income with many part-time jobs. I think that shows that persistence, perseverance and patience will prevail.
Today, Flag & Banner has 10 departments and I have 25 coworkers. It reminds us all that small businesses are the fuel of our country’s economic engine and that they empower people’s lives. If you’d like to ask Kerry a question or share your experience or story, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
[0:04:55.0] KM: Thank you, Tim. My guest today is musician, thespian and now entrepreneur, Bob Bidwell. Yes, Bob’s gotten the small business owner bug and opened a community theater in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas called The Studio Theatre. There he combines his love of music and live performances into his very own brand of business. Some of the shows he has slated for 2018 season are Fun Home, the 2015 Tony winner for best musical; and Hand to God, once nominated for best new play. Along with these shows will be some old favorites, like Best Little Warehouse in Texas. Who don’t love that? And coming up next is Breakfast of Tiffany’s.
Prior to opening The Studio Theatre, Bob taught music in the public schools for 10 years and has been a church musician for four decades. He holds both bachelor and master’s degree in music from the Arkansas State University in Jonesborough. Bidwell is a community activist as he is a member of the Little Rock Wind Symphony, the Central Arkansas Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and he’s currently serving as interim director of music and worship arts for St. James United Methodist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas.
It’s a pleasure to welcome to the table the multitalented and overzealous, Bob Bidwell.
You love music.
[0:06:16.4] BB: I do.
[0:06:17.7] KM: So what made you decide as a child — When did you start studying music? You went to college. Very few people go to college and then graduate and actually do what [inaudible 0:06:24.7] they in college.
[0:06:25.8] BB: Yeah, you’re right. I started piano lessons at my grandmother’s request or demand when I was 6 years old.
[0:06:35.0] KM: I love grandmothers.
[0:06:35.5] BB: Yup. She bought us a piano if we would study. Me and my sister both took lessons.
[0:06:41.8] KM: Did she keep it up?
[0:06:42.8] BB: Yes.
[0:06:43.5] KM: She did? Your sister did too?
[0:06:44.7] BB: But she ended up — It was one of those things where she would say, “Play this for me.” So I would play her piece for her, and then she’d sit down and play it better than I did and we found out she was playing by ear. She doesn’t read at all.
[0:06:55.8] KM: I’m so jealous of that.
[0:06:57.2] BB: Thank you. Me too.
[0:06:58.3] KM: You don’t do that.
[0:06:59.0] BB: Mm-mm.
[0:06:59.7] KM: So all of my kids took piano. All four of my kids and none of them really play, because it’s extremely hard.
[0:07:06.0] BB: It is.
[0:07:06.5] KM: Did you practice a lot? She’s gifted, it sounded like.
[0:07:09.4] BB: I practice when I had to and I wish I had practiced harder when I got older.
[0:07:14.4] KM: Is that the instrument you play to this day?
[0:07:16.6] BB: I still play piano and organ, both.
[0:07:18.4] KM: That’s your —
[0:07:19.9] BB: Yeah. I was an instrumental major in college. I played clarinet.
[0:07:24.2] KM: What does that mean?
[0:07:26.3] BB: You study an instrument in college even though you’re an education major to be a band director, or if you would study voice if you’re going to be a choral major.
[0:07:33.6] KM: So you studied education and then you studied instrument.
[0:07:38.4] BB: You’re also — You have to have a major instrument and a minor instrument.
[0:07:42.7] KM: Okay. You’ve graduated from college in Jonesborough.
[0:07:47.1] BB: Yes.
[0:07:47.6] KM: And did you decide you’re going to go and work in that field?
[0:07:51.8] BB: I knew I was going to be a band director from when I was in junior high. I wanted to be a band director, because I was so enamored by my high school and junior high band directors. They inspired me so much. I just want to be a band director, so for 10 years I did that.
[0:08:06.5] KM: Teachers don’t realize how much they can make a difference in people’s life, or I guess maybe they do, but I hear that all the time, that it was a specific teacher that inspired me to go into architecture, or into history, or whatever they go into.
[0:08:19.3] BB: My good friends — I grew up in Poplar Bluff, Missouri and we’ve started a new Facebook page just called Poplar Bluff of the Past, and that’s the one thing that everyone of us have talked about, was what an impact our elementary school teachers had on us and also all the way through till high school.
[0:08:36.0] KM: Really?
[0:08:36.3] BB: Oh, yeah. That’s one of the number one threads.
[0:08:39.5] KM: So you get out college. What do you do next?
[0:08:44.1] BB: I taught for 10 years.
[0:08:45.1] KM: You went an applied for a job where?
[0:08:46.7] BB: I taught in a little town in between Jonesborough and [inaudible 0:08:49.4] called Manila, Arkansas.
[0:08:51.7] KM: Never heard of it.
[0:08:52.2] BB: Small town, about 3,000 people. Had a fantastic high school band, and I stayed there for three years and then I moved to Paragould and helped team teach the Paragould high school and junior high bands.
[0:09:03.5] KM: And then what?
[0:09:04.2] BB: And then two more years at Green County Tech, which was just right outside of Paragould, and those were my 10 years.
[0:09:11.2] KM: That adds up. So you didn’t teach in Little Rock, Arkansas ever.
[0:09:13.5] BB: No. Never.
[0:09:14.6] KM: And then you did you get to Little Rock?
[0:09:16.1] BB: Well, after I finished teaching, the theater bug had always been in my background. I did a lot of community theater in Jonesborough and Paragould, and with my piano skills I was able to develop I think a pretty good help as far as being a music director for a show, because [inaudible 0:09:34.8] my scores. They’re not easy, especially when you reduce it down from a full orchestra to just the piano player to help teach the singing and then play the show. One of the professors at Arkansas State said, “Why don’t you come back to school and do some theater hours?” So I did that, and worked retail, waited tables. You hear that, but it’s the truth.
[0:09:54.2] KM: I love waiting tables.
[0:09:54.5] BB: Yeah, wait tables. Worked retail and I was always playing in a church. That always help supplement the income, plus I enjoyed the music. So that was a good thing. And I ended up as an organist at a church in Jonesborough, and then in 1999 a job opened in North Little Rock and I moved — I got that job at Lakewood United Methodist Church of Little Rock and I was there for seven years, and then at St. Paul United Methodist Church for seven years, and then after 40 years I kind of thought, “I’m ready to do something else,” and now I just sing in the choir at St. James, but now our music director resigned and I’m filling in until we can find someone full-time there.
[0:10:36.1] KM: Doesn’t that church have a wonderful men’s choir?
[0:10:40.0] BB: No, that was Trinity United Methodist Church. Well, the River City Men’s Chorus.
[0:10:43.9] KM: That’s what I’m talking about. Where was that?
[0:10:45.1] BB: They sing at Second Pres now. Yeah.
[0:10:47.4] KM: But they used to sing at your church, right?
[0:10:49.0] BB: Well, they might have done a concert there.
[0:10:49.6] KM: Is that church that you’re talking about on Mississippi?
[0:10:52.7] BB: No. It’s Pleasant Valley.
[0:10:54.6] KM: I don’t know my churches very well. Sorry, guys. I got to get my Methodist churches lined up. They all sound the same, St. James, St. Paul.
[0:11:01.0] BB: Yup, they do.
[0:11:03.6] KM: So you’re not singing in the men’s choir. That’s what I was [inaudible 0:11:05.5]
[0:11:05.6] BB: Correct. I play in the Little Rock Wind Symphony. That’s my therapy every week.
[0:11:09.6] KM: The business you founded is a performance theater.
[0:11:12.8] BB: Yes.
[0:11:13.2] KM: But you are a music major. What made you decide that you want to go into not just the music part, but the whole complicated ball of wax?
[0:11:29.8] BB: After I retired from the church job, I auditioned for a show with the Community Theater of Little Rock. They were doing the musical called Baby, which was about three couples that are expecting, and I played the older gentleman, of course, and it was performed truly at the Public Theater, which is a very neat little space, but it’s very small.
[0:11:50.7] KM: Where is that?
[0:11:51.2] BB: It’s on Center Street right beside — Right off of 7th. And truly the stage is about as big as this room.
[0:12:00.1] KM: We’re on the radio. Nobody knows what this size is. What size is this room, 10 x 12? Okay.
[0:12:05.4] BB: Very small. Yeah. And a bunch of us decided we can find a space and let’s start something and see what we can do.
[0:12:14.9] KM: This was just five years ago.
[0:12:16.8] BB: Four years ago.
[0:12:18.0] KM: Four years ago.
[0:12:18.0] BB: Yes.
[0:12:18.0] KM: Okay.
[0:12:18.3] BB: Yeah, and the five original board members got together. Some of us put in quite a bit of money to get this started, and we looked over town. We looked at West Little Rock, we looked in midtown and just right around the corner from where we had been performing was used to be Balfour Printing Company. It’s a big old building. It had been a rave for a while. It had been art studios. Originally it was a furniture store built in 1921 and it had been refurbished and brought back up to pretty good standards. So we got with the landlord and worked out a deal with them and we started our theater.
[0:13:00.4] KM: To go back, you auditioned for a theater role, but you’re a musician in Babe, in the movie Babe. What made you — Was that the first theater role you’d ever had?
[0:13:10.6] BB: Oh, gosh! No.
[0:13:11.3] KM: So you’ve been doing that for all along.
[0:13:12.8] BB: Yes.
[0:13:13.4] KM: You’ve always been kind of a thespian musician at the same time and decided you wanted your own place.
[0:13:18.1] BB: Yeah, depending on the show [inaudible 0:13:20.8]role for me or what I do play in the pit. That’s how that worked out. Yeah.
[0:13:27.1] KM: Yeah. So you went over there with your friends and you opened it up four years ago.
[0:13:31.5] BB: We did.
[0:13:32.4] KM: How big is that stage?
[0:13:33.6] BB: It’s probably 20 feet across by about 14 feet deep. It’s a proscenium, which means it has a front on it where it’s not just a black box open to the audience. If you’ve been to the Weekend Theater, that would be called a black box theater where there’s nothing. The black back stage at all. So we have wings and dressing rooms and everything is on the sides and the building itself has a horseshoe balcony that goes all the way around, and we can use the balcony for part of our sitting and storage mainly.
[0:14:07.9] KM: Balfour Printing had a balcony in it?
[0:14:09.4] BB: It sure did.
[0:14:11.3] KM: What was like made for that?
[0:14:12.1] BB: Yeah.
[0:14:13.3] KM: Is that what you felt when you walked in? You went, “Oh my gosh! This is made for this?”
[0:14:15.7] BB: We did. One of the guys that was on our original board said, “I think we found it. Come downtown right now.” So I did, and we walked in. We walked around and none of the walls were there. It was one big wide open space and we just — They laid it out and figured out where they were going to put the theater, the intermission bar, the box office, dressing rooms, and in the back is a shop for construction. It’s a perfect location.
[0:14:41.4] KM: Perfect layout.
[0:14:41.8] BB: Yeah, it is.
[0:14:43.2] KM: All right, let’s take a quick break. When we come back, we’ll continue our conversation with Bob Bidwell, founder, music director and executive director of The Studio Theatre in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. We’ll hear what the experience has been like, the challenges, the rewards and learn about his 2018 performances and find out how you can get involved. And at the bottom of the hour we’ll be taking calls, so listen and get your questions ready.
[0:15:10.1] TB: You’re listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. If you missed any part of this show, a podcast will be made available next week at flagandbanner.com’s website. If you would prefer to listen on iTunes, YouTube or SoundCloud, you’ll find those links there as well. Lots of listening options. We’ll be right back.
[0:15:54.6] KM: That was good. That was from — What was it from, Bob?
[0:15:57.5] BB: Fun Home.
[0:15:58.2] KM: Fun Home, but that’s already played.
[0:15:59.6] BB: It did. It played back in September. It opened our 4th season.
[0:16:02.6] KM: I love that. You’re listening to Up in Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. I’m speaking today with Bob Bidwell, founder, music director and executive director of The Studio Theatre in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas.
So we talked about you worked in a church for a long time, and then we talked about you taught school. We may go back to that, but I’d really like to just go ahead and jump in to the business of show business. You’ve been in business for four years, but only last year you turned it into a nonprofit. Why did you decide to do that?
[0:16:34.7] BB: Well, when we first formed the theater we decided we were going to be for-profit and connected to the theater is the lobby bar, and we had originally thought the bar would be open every night, could have entertainment, musicians, comic shows, whatever, any night that there wasn’t something in the theater. But then we found out that it really conflicted with rehearsal schedules and the sound transferring from both spaces just didn’t work out.
So originally we went in for profit thinking that the bar would help support the artistic part of the theater. So we stayed pretty much in the black for that first couple of years. It was rough. It was rough. We lost some board members when we decided we wanted to go to the nonprofit.
[0:17:22.1] KM: Oh, really?
[0:17:23.0] BB: Yes, we did. And we applied, got our nonprofit with the help of some folks from other theaters and somehow tax was not filed and we lost —
[0:17:39.6] KM: Oh! It’s so complex.
[0:17:40.9] BB: It’s very complex. We lost our nonprofit. We had to completely reapply. It was by like five days.
[0:17:47.9] KM: I’m so sorry.
[0:17:47.8] BB: And they would not work with us on that.
[0:17:49.9] KM: I just want to say they are —
[0:17:52.4] BB: Yeah, it was tough.
[0:17:53.5] KM: It’s like, “Come on! Give me a break.”
[0:17:54.8] BB: Yeah. And our accountant did everything she could to work with the IRS explaining what had happened. It was really their fault and not our fault. Anyway, we reapplied. It was granted, and then we — Part of the nonprofit being that you have to form a new board. I was president of the board, which I can no longer be that. So I’m really right now just serving as executive director hoping that we can find someone to take that position when we’re able to pay someone to do that.
Our board went to a great workshop with the Arkansas Arts Council on how to form a new board. They offered us a workshop, and our whole board went, and it was phenomenal. And we got good leadership on that and they’ve been so helpful, “Here’s what you need to do to apply for grants. Here’s who you need to go to for funding.”
Then, or course, as things always changed, the worst part is, is they had the most wonderful program to hire an executive director for your artistic endeavor.
[0:18:59.7] KM: Yeah, they matched the salary. Don’t they? 50-50.
[0:19:02.0] BB: Aha, and that was a three-year program, and then they ended the three-year program. They would hope that you would be ready to pay that person fulltime. That program ended the year we got our nonprofit. So we’re working on something else to work out with them. We’ve got 15 members on our board.
[0:19:21.2] KM: So tell me why the board — Did you have to change the whole board around or just reelect some of the same people?
[0:19:26.7] BB: I’m the only one left from the original board. We had a couple of people that came on a little bit like maybe after about the second or third year.
[0:19:34.4] KM: That are still there. I don’t think that’s unusual. I do not think that’s unusual. Startups are so volatile and emotional that whoever you start with a few years later are often [inaudible 0:19:44.5] for whatever reason, because change is hard.
[0:19:47.2] BB: It is.
[0:19:47.6] KM: When you went from a for profit to a nonprofit, that’s a huge change that a lot of people are like, “I don’t want to do that anymore.”
[0:19:55.1] BB: It is.
[0:19:56.1] KM: So you don’t have the bar upfront?
[0:19:57.4] BB: The bar is there, but it’s only open now to service like at the intermissions or before the show.
[0:20:02.5] KM: That’s the nonprofit, and I have a problem with you serving alcohol.
[0:20:04.9] BB: No.
[0:20:05.8] KM: That’s interesting.
[0:20:06.6] BB: As it works out, the lobby bar can be a business entity that support the nonprofit organization.
[0:20:14.5] KM: I love that.
[0:20:16.5] BB: Yeah. So it’s all really one, but any funds — Like if we have a cabaret on Monday night, if it’s an artistic endeavor, we can account that as non-taxable for us, but we can count that funding towards our artistic —
[0:20:29.1] KM: I thought the bars had to always be like a donation towards the nonprofit, but you can actually separate into two entities. We may have to talk about that, Matthew, about the Dreamland Ballroom and how we can maybe do something with that.
So you got partners, don’t you? Before the break you said that you and some friends had this vision and you all put in money — How many partners do you have?
[0:20:50.8] BB: I was the biggest contributor, and then there was one other person that donated quite a bit. When she left the group we had to pay her out, and it was not a bad situation at all. She just said, “I can’t do this anymore.” [inaudible 0:21:10.0] and we worked out a deal with her.
A couple of other people were more in it, not so much financially, but just one guy was really good with tech stuff, one guy was really good with set designer, whatever. They were just part of the board as more artistic than financial.
[0:21:26.8] KM: They had talent.
[0:21:27.7] BB: Talent. Yeah.
[0:21:30.0] KM: The three T’s — Or no, the three — What is it? Three money? Talent and time. Treasure, talent and time, the three T’s.
[0:21:39.7] BB: I like that.
[0:21:40.4] KM: Treasure, talent and time.
[0:21:41.2] BB: Yeah.
[0:21:42.1] KM: Okay.
[0:21:42.7] BB: Anyway, it just ended up with this nonprofit board. We found that we could reach out and find people in the community that could help us find funding and ideas, more ideas than what the original board could think off. There’s only so many people that three people or four people can reach. When you got 15, more ideas.
[0:22:05.9] KM: So you got 15 people in your board.
[0:22:06.6] BB: 15 people are on the board right now, yes.
[0:22:08.9] KM: Did you say you’re the ED, the executive director?
[0:22:10.7] BB: I’m the executive director until we can find someone to take that position, yeah.
[0:22:16.8] KM: So that includes probably all the money and the cash flow and doing all of that. Do you have an accountant that helps you, someone that’s got talent?
[0:22:25.7] BB: We do. Unfortunately we have a treasure who just had to resign from the board. So we’re looking for a treasurer to take that on, but most of the money right now is coming through me and I make all the deposits and the box office and things like that.
[0:22:39.8] KM: And then you need your accountant to come in at the end and pay all your taxes and make sure you do everything right.
[0:22:43.2] BB: Yes, and we’re working on that right now.
[0:22:48.1] KM: As the executive director, are you in charge of everything? Do you have to plan the shows?
[0:22:52.5] BB: No.
[0:22:53.6] KM: Okay.
[0:22:54.0] BB: The good thing about being an executive director is that you can delegate. My favorite, delegate.
[0:22:59.5] KM: Well, a lot of people aren’t very good at that. It sounds like you are.
[0:23:00.8] BB: I know. Well, I hope so. But Justin Pike is our artistic director and we are so lucky to have him, because he’s got such — We’ll, he’s directed many of our shows and he just has great sense when it comes what will be a good show for us to do, and helping him is Hannah Sawyer, who’s our associate artistic director, and she is on the faculty at Central High School. Those two together have known each other a long time and they come up with all of our artistic ideas as far as like we’re planning next season, which will be announced May the 5th for our 5th season.
[0:23:35.6] KM: I think there’s a lot of artistic people out there just looking for a place to have a voice, to express themselves. It sounds like you’ve given a platform and a lot of freedom for people to make a difference and to express themselves and define themselves. I think that’s the sign of a really good leader, is not micromanaging. I mean, guiding. You got to come in for sure and say, “This is our vision and this is not making any money,” or whatever, but you got to be able to really let go of people, especially in your business to let them really find their voice and express themselves artistically.
How many people are on the actual payroll?
[0:24:11.5] BB: We have one, and that’s our bar manager. She’s the only one that is paid right now.
[0:24:16.1] KM: Were you going to say something about those artistic people?
[0:24:18.4] BB: Well, I was just going to say that it’s nice to have people that will volunteer right now to help us get through until there comes a time that we will be able to pay a salary for these artistic people.
[0:24:30.5] KM: Do you have a plan for when that’d be?
[0:24:32.5] BB: Not right now. We are just now starting work on getting grants and funding from the community and reaching out to other entities and —
[0:24:41.4] KM: You know, it took Arkansas Flag & Banner nine years before it could support me. Tim read that in the beginning, that I worked a part-time job. Dreamland Ballroom is nine years old this year, the nonprofit Dreamland Ballroom, and it’s still not really on its feet, but we don’t commit the kind of time that you’re doing. You have another job, don’t you?
[0:24:59.9] BB: Well, right now I’m interim music director at a church. Yeah.
[0:25:02.8] KM: So is this a career or a hobby?
[0:25:05.0] BB: Yes.
[0:25:05.0] KM: Which one?
[0:25:05.7] BB: Yes.
[0:25:09.5] KM: That’s a good answer.
[0:25:10.1] BB: No. I think you are talking about being involved. The hardest thing for me not to do is when people say, “Oh! You’re working at Bob’s theater,” and it can’t be that. It’s got to be The Studio Theatre, and I’m really having to step back and let this board take over and let them do their job.
[0:25:26.4] KM: I think Bob’s Theater is a catchy name and easy to remember. The Studio Theatre is very vague. It could be — It doesn’t even have to be a theater almost. It could be a hair salon. No! For a Studio Theatre — I don’t know. Studio is a very — It could be a radio show. It could be — Studio could be a lot of things, but Bob’s Place, that’s pretty catchy. Okay. You’re going to have a hard time breaking that habit though.
[0:25:58.4] BB: That’s okay. I know.
[0:26:00.7] KM: Let’s talk about the biggest challenges. It sounds like your board has been a big challenge.
[0:26:03.9] BB: The board coming on, especially just from brand new. Some of them have been on nonprofit, some have done some grant writing, some have been in the legal field, some have been financial, and just to get us altogether and to start the journey, that’s the hardest part.
[0:26:20.7] KM: Is there something that’s happened that you didn’t anticipate?
[0:26:23.9] BB: Yeah.
[0:26:24.3] KM: Is it harder than you thought?
[0:26:25.3] BB: It’s much harder than we thought. Just getting started and keeping what has been going so well, artistically going to be able to support it financially. That’s the hardest part.
[0:26:38.8] KM: How many theaters are in Little Rock, Arkansas?
[0:26:40.6] BB: We’ve got really — We’re really lucky. We’ve got the Weekend Theater, which is down in Chester and 7th.
[0:26:46.8] KM: And it’s a community theater. What would you call that? Amateur?
[0:26:49.0] BB: It is. Volunteer, just like we are, and then the Community Theater of Little Rock, which has been around for 60 years.
[0:26:55.8] KM: That’s also volunteer. So there’s three.
[0:26:57.3] BB: They’re all volunteer. Argenta over in North Little Rock is all volunteer, and then — Let’s see. That’s the four amateur or volunteer theaters. They’re not amateur at all. That’s for sure. Then of course, the Rep is our professional theater. Then the high schools around here are doing amazing productions too.
[0:27:14.1] KM: And the Children’s Theater, The Art Center.
[0:27:15.5] BB: Children’s Theater, The Art Center. Exactly.
[0:27:16.9] KM: Is it only one you really get paid at, the Rep?
[0:27:19.3] BB: Yes. Well, or Murray’s or I think —
[0:27:21.1] KM: Murray’s Dinner Playhouse.
[0:27:22.9] BB: I think Children’s Theater, I think they are paid actors there.
[0:27:26.8] KM: That’s right, Murray’s Dinner Playhouse is a well-kept secret.
[0:27:30.7] BB: Yes, and it’s coming back. It’s really strong right now.
[0:27:33.1] KM: It seems like there’s not enough thespians in the town to go around.
[0:27:37.0] BB: You’d be surprised.
[0:27:38.2] KM: Really? That seems like a lot of theaters all vying for the same dollars.
[0:27:45.1] BB: Right now there are four different shows going on, and at four different theaters. That includes Benton and Conway. I’m going to include them too, because they’re so close and they’re community theaters. But everyone auditions and they kind of know which show they want to go for. If they get cast in another show, they have to let this director know that they’re not going to be in the show.
[0:28:06.7] KM: Is juggling that part hard?
[0:28:08.8] BB: Sometimes, for the director.
[0:28:10.4] KM: Are ticket sales hard?
[0:28:11.4] BB: Ticket sales are not really that hard amazingly. Musicals are selling better than just our book shows.
[0:28:17.4] KM: Everybody loves musical.
[0:28:18.0] BB: Yeah. We were just talking about Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which closed out our third season in August. It’s a two-person case. So we were thinking, “Okay. Audiences are going to be really slim, because how many friends do two people have?” It’s sold out every night.
[0:28:36.1] KM: Well, Tim went and saw it.
[0:28:36.1] TB: Yeah, it was amazing.
[0:28:37.6] BB: Yeah. It’s what we were talking about. Fun Home, which most people around here probably don’t know, even though it won the Tony Award, was one of our biggest shows also. It’s always a surprise.
[0:28:51.6] KM: And I know from being with you in New York when we were having wine after a show one day, you were talking to me about how you have to all vie for the same shows, and buying a show and getting a show and the business of that, and I want to go into that, because I didn’t even ever think about that part of it. But it’s time to take a break.
When we come back we’ll continue our conversation with Bob Bidwell, founder, music director and an executive director of The Studio Theatre in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. Whether you’re an actor, a musician or interested in the business side of show business, you will want to hear what he has to say. And if you have any questions for Bob, Tim will give you the telephone number right after the break.
[0:29:30.8] TB: You’re listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. If you missed any part of this show, a podcast will be made available next week at flagandbanner.com’s website. If you would prefer to listen on iTunes, YouTube or SoundCloud, you’ll find those links there as well. Lots of listening options. We’ll be right back with the phone number for calling in.
[0:29:51.1] AM: Arkansas Flag & Banner is proud to underwrite Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. McCoy began this broadcast a year and a half ago with the intention of offering a mentoring platform for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. Through candid conversation and interesting interviews with business and community-minded Arkansans, listeners gain insight into starting and running a business, the ups and downs of risk-taking and the commonalities of successful people.
Kerry McCoy, founder and president of Arkansas Flag & Banner, believes in paying knowledge and experience forward and developed this radio show as a means of doing so. The biographies, life experiences of her guests would likely go unheard if not for this venue. Rarely do people open up for an hour to an audience about their life, mistakes, triumphs and pitfalls. This unique radio show allows the listener intimate access into the stories or prominent leaders in our state.
I am Adrienne McNally, manager of the Arkansas Flag & Banner show room and gift shop located on the first floor of the historic Taborian Hall on the corner of 9th and State Streets in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. In business for 43 years, we offer an old school shopping experience with front door parking, clerks to help you and department store variety. Open to the public Monday through Friday 8 to 5:30, and Saturday, 10 to 4.
[0:31:17.0] KM: Thank you, Adrienne. You’re listening to Up in Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. I’m speaking today with Mr. Bob Bidwell, founder, music director and executive director of The Studio Theatre in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas.
You have your business now, is starting and planning your theaters, your shows. Exactly how do you go about that and how do you start? Do you start a year in advance? Tell us how you — And do you do a business plan and you say I got to have these many shows, where I’ve got to have these many tickets and I can only spend this much money on expenses. Are you a business that much or you just go, “That’s a cute show. I think I’ll play it and run it and see if we make any money.” Like most small business people do.
[0:32:04.4] BB: You know me really well, don’t you? That’s the one reason this board has come on for sure, is to help with the financial part, that that’s not my strong point. I’m more artistic.
[0:32:14.7] KM: When you sit down to plan your season — Let’s just go backwards. You’re going to plan the — Or no, let’s go forward. You’re going to plan the 2019 season. When do you start planning it?
[0:32:25.7] BB: Okay. They started pretty much right when we opened this season in September.
[0:32:31.2] KM: You’re talking about a year and a half in advance?
[0:32:32.8] BB: Yes, and one thing we have to do is, with four other theaters in town, we have to kind of get our [inaudible 0:32:40.3] out to see if we know kind of maybe where they’re leaning. Good thing about it is like the Weekend Theater, we know they are going to do what we call socially significant plays. They have a niche of what they perform. They do throw in a couple of good musicals.
[0:32:53.4] KM: Like Hair.
[0:32:54.2] BB: Yeah, or like —
[0:32:55.2] KM: And a gay — They do a lot of gay performances. Yeah, Socially — What you call them?
[0:33:00.1] BB: Socially significant.
[0:33:01.5] KM: Social aids, social significance.
[0:33:03.1] BB: Yes. I mean, yes, they’ve done the Sound of Music. Yes, they’ve done the Drowsy Chaperone, just some fun musicals too. But that’s, I guess, they still are socially significant.
[0:33:13.1] KM: Not really.
[0:33:13.7] BB: Then we know that Community Theater of Little Rock, they like to do some of the standards, Annie Get Your Gun, some of the older shows, but they’re also branching out and doing some new shows. One thing about CTLR, they were in our space with us for the first three years. We alternated months.
[0:33:33.0] KM: Wouldn’t that be lovely?
[0:33:33.4] BB: We did a show, they would do a show. We did a show, they did a show.
[0:33:36.5] KM: That seems perfect.
[0:33:37.4] BB: It was, and they decided they want to get back their own entity and they’re opening somewhere else soon. They’re going out on their own again, and we’re going to miss them.
[0:33:49.8] KM: I know. That’s the one that’s been in business for 60 years.
[0:33:52.4] BB: 60 years, yeah, which is great.
[0:33:54.6] KM: That way you can share expenses and stuff.
[0:33:57.0] BB: Well, they paid us rent to use the space. We got to use their lighting or whatever and costumes and things. It all worked out great, but man, we wish them well.
[0:34:08.5] KM: What you told me in New York is that you can’t get a show if somebody else has got that show slated, and that there’s — I’m not sure who it is, but where does everybody call for shows? New York?
[0:34:18.1] BB: There are three or four agencies that you can get the royalties and rights to do your show.
[0:34:22.0] KM: Only three or four in the county. I think that’s interesting. They look by region and they kind of delegate out what you can have, which I thought was interesting.
[0:34:32.5] BB: Our first summer musical is going to Hairspray, and that would have been in the summer of 2015, and we got the rights for it, and then all of a sudden Murray’s got the rights for it, and they pulled it from us.
[0:34:47.3] KM: Because Murray’s has been around like 50 years.
[0:34:48.3] BB: Well, and plus they are not an equity theater, but they’re a paid professional theater. So we lost the rights to that.
[0:34:55.5] KM: If a paid theater wants it, they get first right of refusal.
[0:35:02.5] BB: Let’s say example would be the Rep. They’re doing Mamma Mia. We had applied to do Mamma Mia. They got first dibs, of course, because they’re a professional theater. Well, and we actually had the rights to the Color Purple, and it was going to be one of our big shows of the season, and a month before auditions they said, “I’m sorry. It’s going back to Broadway. You can no longer perform the show.”
[0:35:25.8] KM: Because if it’s on Broadway, you can’t have it —
[0:35:28.0] BB: A lot of times they will not — Or if it’s coming by on tour. Let’s say the Musical Chicago was coming on tour to Little Rock, they would not let anyone in the city have it for a year beforehand.
[0:35:39.3] KM: Isn’t that interesting?
[0:35:39.8] BB: It is.
[0:35:40.2] KM: The business of show business, and there’s only three or four —
[0:35:44.5] BB: Three or four agencies that rent out these —
[0:35:47.2] KM: What are those agencies called?
[0:35:48.7] BB: One of them is called Rodgers and Hammerstein Musical Library.
[0:35:51.5] KM: Are they all music libraries?
[0:35:53.7] BB: Not really, but some of them have plays.
[0:35:54.0] KM: Or is there a name of that kind of a — It’s just an agency.
[0:35:57.5] BB: Yeah. One of them is Music Theater International, one is Samuel French.
[0:36:01.9] KM: It’s last September. We’re planning 2019. What is the first thing that a theater board sits down and does to plan for 2019?
[0:36:13.8] BB: Right. First thing is, is the artistic directors have to get together and see what shows are available, what tat? Like maybe has just left Broadway, kind of like we got Fun Home this year. We were the first community theater in the country to get the rights for it. We were not the first community theater. Another theater in Montana started. They opened three days before we did.
[0:36:35.2] KM: Congratulations, Bob.
[0:36:35.6] BB: Yeah. So that was pretty cool.
[0:36:37.3] KM: That is very cool.
[0:36:38.3] BB: That’s all the artistic.
[0:36:39.3] KM: Did you do a press release about that?
[0:36:40.5] BB: We did.
[0:36:41.5] KM: Good job.
[0:36:41.2] BB: And that’s the artistic director. He’s on top of all that.
[0:36:45.6] KM: Good job.
[0:36:45.4] BB: Yeah, exactly.
[0:36:47.3] KM: Okay. So pick out your shows and then you start sending out your requests.
[0:36:51.7] BB: Yup. First thing we have to do is, of course, we’re waiting a little bit, because we know the Rep is going announce their season on February the 19th, which is a couple of Mondays from now.
[0:37:01.5] KM: How you can start planning in September if you have to wait for the Rep?
[0:37:03.8] BB: Well, we just have to wait. That’s why we let them go first.
[0:37:07.3] KM: So you plan your shows and you wait and see what the Rep comes up with or maybe Murray’s and then you go ahead and maybe pull something that you had in there and pulling some other. Then you send your request off to these agencies and they approve you.
[0:37:19.5] BB: Yes, or not.
[0:37:20.2] KM: That doesn’t mean it’s set in stone.
[0:37:21.5] BB: Right.
[0:37:21.8] KM: Because if somebody wants it —
[0:37:25.7] BB: First thing you do is you apply for the license to produce the show. You have to give them the date, like we’re going to do it in April of 2019. So they will send the contract back. You have to sign all of it, and they’re really good about not having to send a deposit in, which is a good thing, because if something happens or we have to change the show or whatever. Yeah.
[0:37:46.2] KM: Okay. So then you’ve got your shows and then you write down — Do all the shows cost the same?
[0:37:51.1] BB: No.
[0:37:52.3] KM: You write down how much the show costs. You write down what your expenses are for that show, and then you turn around and say, “We got to sell these many tickets for this show. Oh my gosh! We’ll never do it,” or is that how you pick your ticket prices, or are they all different?
[0:38:07.7] BB: Musicals are 25 and 20. The 20 is for student military or seniors above 65.
[0:38:13.0] KM: Always.
[0:38:13.7] BB: And then just to book play, a nonmusical would be 20 and 15.
[0:38:19.2] KM: I would always pick cheap shows.
[0:38:22.1] BB: I wish we could.
[0:38:22.7] KM: You don’t think people would come?
[0:38:24.2] BB: I don’t know. It would depend on the title.
[0:38:26.9] KM: I would always pick inexpensive shows if you can never change the price of a show. If the show is never going to be more than $25, then I would never get a show where I was going to make less money.
[0:38:35.6] BB: Yeah. It’s a good question.
[0:38:38.5] KM: It was not a question. It’s a statement.
[0:38:40.7] BB: Yup, a statement.
[0:38:41.4] KM: I would just say I’m going to always pick shows that never go above this price because I have to make this much every time I open the doors, and I’m never going to — Now, would you sell tickets if you did that?
[0:38:51.4] BB: Probably not.
[0:38:53.7] KM: Say, “Here’s the deal.” You might not —
[0:38:54.6] BB: Let’s take — We just did Meet Me in St. Louis for December in Christmas.
[0:38:58.6] KM: Isn’t that what we saw in New York together? Dolly Parton? What was that show we saw with Dolly Parton?
[0:39:04.3] BB: That was Bette Midler, Hello Dolly. It’s okay.
[0:39:09.7] KM: Another loud woman, Bette Midler. What was that show?
[0:39:12.6] BB: You were a little under the weather, if you remember correctly.
[0:39:14.1] KM: No, I don’t remember.
[0:39:15.0] BB: You don’t?
[0:39:16.7] KM: What’s that? I don’t drink. It wasn’t that. What was it? I wish this was TV so y’all can see all seven of the people in this room making faces and I’m out of the loop. I don’t even know what it is.
[0:39:32.0] TB: Meanwhile, Bette Midler —
[0:39:33.4] KM: Okay, yeah. Okay. So Bette Midler — Oh! I did get sick.
[0:39:39.5] BB: You did.
[0:39:40.1] KM: That’s right. I had to have a steroid shot.
[0:39:42.2] BB: That’s right. You did. We were worried about you.
[0:39:43.3] KM: No way! All right.
[0:39:47.4] BB: No. Seriously, we were talking about we were going to do Meet Me in St. Louis. We knew that the costume budget for that would be more, because it takes place in 1904 or whenever the St. Louis World’s Fair was. So we knew that we had to budget a little more for costumes for that show, where like I did a book play called Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which was a comedy, but it’s set in current day so people could just wear their regular street clothes. So those were things that kind of balance each other’s out.
[0:40:13.9] KM: Does the Rep let you borrow from their costume and wardrobe department?
[0:40:17.1] BB: They have.
[0:40:17.6] KM: Gosh! They have clothes in there. Gosh!
[0:40:20.3] BB: They have. We’ve been real lucky. We’ve had a good relationship with them.
[0:40:23.4] KM: I would think all the community theaters would work together.
[0:40:26.1] BB: We do.
[0:40:27.3] KM: I’ve always said this, that I would love to work together and build a coalition of all the theater groups so that they all kind of got together at the same time and put together advertising materials for everybody to put at the hotels.
[0:40:41.0] BB: Yup. We’ve talked about that, believe it or not. And we actually talked to the mayor. He came to one of our art shows one night and we were saying, “Why don’t you designate 7th Street as the theater district?’
[0:40:51.8] KM: Thank you.
[0:40:53.1] BB: And he said, “That’s really a good idea.” So I’m hoping that happens.
[0:40:57.0] KM: I am too. We don’t have —
[0:40:58.6] TB: He’s a friend of the show, by the way.
[0:41:00.3] BB: Good!
[0:41:00.6] KM: Yeah. The mayor was on the show. That’s exactly right. How do people — Before we have to leave, because we’re running out of time. I love talking to you. Talk about how we get tickets, where you buy tickets and how people can audition.
[0:41:16.9] BB: Sure.
[0:41:17.2] KM: Okay.
[0:41:17.5] BB: Best thing to do is to follow us on Facebook. We have a great Facebook page under The Studio Theatre, and we spell theater on the end T-R-E, not T-E-R. So Studio Theatre.
[0:41:26.5] KM: Theatre.
[0:41:27.3] BB: Theatre. And our website is studiotheatrelr.com, and—
[0:41:32.8] KM: What’s that?
[0:41:33.5] BB: Studiotheatrelr.com. It’s our website.
[0:41:37.0] KM: Oh, okay. Don’t forget the LR.
[0:41:39.6] BB: Yeah, email is email@example.com.
[0:41:44.1] KM: And they can email you for tickets or they can email you to find out about auditions?
[0:41:48.6] BB: Our tickets come through Central Arkansas ticket agency, which is attached to Arkansas Times. It’s a business that they have on the side, and Central Arkansas Tickets, and that’s been a great partnership. We’re loving working with them. And you order online. On occasion where we’ll have tickets at the door that a lot of times our shows are selling out, so we have to —
[0:42:09.8] KM: What a good problem to have.
[0:42:10.7] BB: Yeah, it’s a nice problem to have. We can’t really do phone sales, but you can call if you need to and all that information is on our website.
[0:42:16.9] KM: So order online, but at the door, but you run a risk, and not big on phone sales, because you don’t have a staff sitting or manning the phones. You can leave a message, I guess, and somebody will call you back, and you can pay with credit cards, I guess, with y’all.
[0:42:28.5] BB: Yup.
[0:42:29.4] KM: So if you all are sold out all the time and you’re not making money, you need me to come down there and look at what’s going on.
[0:42:36.9] BB: Looking for a new board member.
[0:42:39.5] KM: Oh no! Not me. I am filled up with stuff.
[0:42:42.8] BB: I know that.
[0:42:43.7] KM: No. So I just want to tell everybody that are listening to Up in Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy, and I’m speaking today with Mr. Bob Bidwell, founder, music director and executive director of The Studio Theatre in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. What if I’m a thespian or a musician or a singer and I want to come down there and audition? How do I find out about that?
[0:43:03.6] BB: What’s going to happen in May, on the May the 5th, we’re going to announce our 5th season. People are already asking, “What are you doing? What are you doing?” I mean, they’re planning that far ahead to find out what we’re doing. And once a season is announced, we usually audition three or four, sometimes five months ahead of time for the show just to make sure the cast is set and ready to go. You can find all that information on our website or on our Facebook page. It’s also in the papers too.
[0:43:32.9] KM: What’s the Facebook page again?
[0:43:34.7] BB: Just The Studio Theatre.
[0:43:36.4] KM: LR? No, just The Studio Theatre. Don’t forget to put “the” on it.
[0:43:39.2] BB: Yeah.
[0:43:39.4] KM: Because I did that a couple of times. I couldn’t find it. You got to put in The Studio Theatre.
[0:43:43.0] BB: And probably Little Rock. I think you might have to add Little Rock on there too.
[0:43:45.3] KM: But the website is definitely Little Rock.
[0:43:47.4] BB: LR.
[0:43:48.9] KM: Really, why can’t you sell tickets for more than $25? Is that just a standard thing you cannot do in town?
[0:43:54.1] BB: It’s not, and we’re actually probably one of the highest as far as our ticket prices, as far as the community theaters are concerned. We have such high overhead on our building. That’s the main reason.
[0:44:06.4] KM: You’re looking for somebody to share space with you.
[0:44:08.9] BB: Well, maybe. We do rent it out to other groups. People can rent the space. So that helps a lot on our down months.
[0:44:17.0] KM: What if you went to a $29 ticket?
[0:44:19.3] BB: We could.
[0:44:20.6] KM: I mean, does anybody really know the difference between 25 and 29? I’m looking at my young people. Do y’all really know the difference between 25, 29?
[0:44:27.2] TB: It really depends on what the play is. I would have paid extra to see Hedwig.
[0:44:31.3] KM: So how many people do you sit a night?
[0:44:34.1] BB: We can sit up to 85 or 90.
[0:44:37.4] KM: What’s 85 x $4? That’s $400 almost. So let’s say $350. How many nights does it play?
[0:44:44.1] BB: Usually 8 or 12.
[0:44:45.4] KM: What’s 350 x 10? $3,500 I’ve just added to everyone of your shows if you can go to $29. Okay! That was your free advice today.
[0:44:53.2] BB: Hey, that’s good.
[0:44:55.4] KM: I don’t know. What do you want your legacy to be?
[0:45:01.5] BB: My legacy? That’s a good question. I just want to know that we provided a space for people to express themselves artistically.
[0:45:11.8] KM: How long are you going to do a four if it doesn’t any money? Nine years? I think nine years is a good —
[0:45:16.3] BB: We’ll see. Yeah, 9 or 10.
[0:45:18.3] KM: Or 10.
[0:45:19.3] BB: Yeah, see how we do.
[0:45:20.3] KM: I think you could be making money within nine years.
[0:45:28.6] BB: If we can get some grants and some financial support from industries.
[0:45:33.7] KM: I bet there’s a lot of people looking for grant money in your industry.
[0:45:37.0] BB: Yes, there are.
[0:45:39.3] KM: And you don’t have a longevity in your business. So they never know if you’re going to fold. What did they tell Dreamland Ballroom? Something like we needed like 5 years, I think, under our belt before they’d say, “Okay. You’re really here to say, because so many of them closed.” I think I’ve already asked you what your biggest obstacle was.
[0:46:02.9] BB: Financial, right now. Just getting money in the bank so that we can do what we want to do.
[0:46:09.1] KM: What’s the advice you’d give to young people that are just starting to get into music? Do you think they need to go to college?
[0:46:14.4] BB: I think it’s really interesting that that billboard — I don’t know if y’all saw that online about the UALR billboard. It cost quite a bit of controversy. A lot of our state senators said the UALR had a billboard that you could get a major in dance at UALR, and he said, “Why would anyone want to major in that? There’s no money in the arts. We need more math teachers. We need — ” See? Already everybody in the room knows what I’m talking about as far as — And it cost such a controversy. I hope he learned a lesson, that everyone needs the arts, everyone. Even if you major in music — I mean, not even. If you major in music, you’re going to find a job. Education is great. Performance right now — Look at all the music people that are making money performing. Theater is the same way. Theater right now is huge. Look at Broadway. You know. I mean, my gosh! So do not , just because you don’t think you can make it, not major in the arts. That what I’d say.
[0:47:13.2] KM: I will say this about cable TV. When cable TV came on and MTV became a music channel, dancers found a place like never before. All those videos where they could express themselves through dance, because prior that you’re either a ballet dancer or you really weren’t dancing anywhere.
[0:47:31.6] BB: Or on tour with some group or some singer. Yeah.
[0:47:36.1] KM: You really weren’t dancing very much. So there’s a lot of, like you said, careers in music, and you don’t have to be Justin Beiber. You don’t have to be that kind — Or Justin Timberlake. You don’t have to have that kind of success to have a great career in music.
[0:47:49.0] BB: That’s right.
[0:47:53.4] KM: Who has probably influenced you the most? Your grandmother?
[0:47:57.5] BB: I think I would have to almost say my whole family, because they’ve all been so supportive. My whole family are coaches, basketball and football coaches.
[0:48:05.9] KM: We had a guy in here the other day who said that that’s very close to acting. It kind of comes from the same DNA.
[0:48:13.9] BB: Kind of like being a lawyer.
[0:48:15.5] KM: What does that mean? Oh! Acting.
[0:48:18.8] BB: Yeah.
[0:48:19.6] KM: Being a lawyer.
[0:48:20.2] BB: Yeah.
[0:48:20.6] KM: I never thought about that. A trial lawyer.
[0:48:23.0] BB: Trial lawyer, yeah.
[0:48:24.5] KM: So was it we had that said that they wanted to be an actor and they ended up being a sports writer? Oh! It was Trey Reid.
[0:48:31.0] TB: Trey Reid, that’s right.
[0:48:32.2] KM: He wanted to be a football coach or an actor, and he ended — I know! He ended up being the Arkansas Game and Fish spokesperson, and he said theater and sports are very similar.
[0:48:46.1] BB: Yeah, I hadn’t thought about it, but yeah, it is.
[0:48:48.5] KM: So what do your brothers teach, or sister?
[0:48:50.9] BB: My brother has just retired as a basketball coach up in Missouri. My sister is retired from Arkansas Parks & Tourism. Yeah. And all of my nephews are basketball coaches in South East Missouri.
[0:49:03.7] KM: Are they tall?
[0:49:04.7] BB: Mm-hmm.
[0:49:05.6] KM: Oh. Okay. One word to sum you up.
[0:49:11.7] BB: Trying. I’m trying.
[0:49:14.3] KM: Oh, okay. Good. I was going to say you are trying.
[0:49:16.0] BB: I know. That didn’t come out right. Struggling. No, that’s not right. But you know what I mean, because I’m really working hard.
[0:49:21.8] KM: You are working hard. You are always working hard. I think there’s one thread that runs through every one of the people we have on. They’ve got the heart of a teacher. You definitely do. You are a teacher. You cannot be successful if you don’t know how to communicate well [inaudible 0:49:35.5].
You just opened up a business four years ago. At what age?
[0:50:14.1] BB: 60.
[0:50:15.8] KM: Come on now! That’s good right there. You took your life savings and opened up a business at 60. Ugh! I love that. That’s really great. I have enjoyed you, Bob. We got a gift for Bob, don’t we? You’re welcome. I don’t know what they are. Tim picked them out. Or did you pick them out, Tim?
[0:50:32.8] TB: Me and Adrienne worked together in finding this one.
[0:50:34.6] KM: Oh, Adrienne. Oh! It’s good. Say what it is, Bob.
[0:50:40.7] BB: It’s the theater masks. Wonderful!
[0:50:43.9] KM: Yup! On a flag.
[0:50:44.1] BB: Tragedy and — That’s going on in my house, because it’s also the colors of Mardis Gras.
[0:50:49.1] TB: It’s true. Yeah.
[0:50:49.9] BB: That will go in my house.
[0:50:51.4] KM: Oh, yeah! Mardis Gras is next Tuesday.
[0:50:51.7] BB: All my flags is from you anyway.
[0:50:54.3] KM: Oh, thank you. I didn’t know you were a good customer if Flag & Banner. Thank you very much.
[0:50:58.5] BB: Thank you, guys. Thank you so much. This has been fun.
[0:50:59.1] KM: You are so welcome. It has been fun. Well, you love live performance.
[0:51:03.3] BB: Yeah.
[0:51:03.7] KM: This is as live as it gets, reality radio.
[0:51:06.6] BB: But when I can express what I do and the opportunity to put it out there and let people know what we’re doing. It’s great.
[0:51:11.2] KM: So everybody, go on to flagandbanner.com’s website, click on radio, find out about how to get in touch with Bob, or you can email him at —
[0:51:19.7] BB: Info@thestudiotheatrelr.com.
[0:51:24.2] KM: Or go on his The Studio Theatre LR Facebook page and read all about how to get tickets or how to audition. Okay, I didn’t forget. I promise to share my mother’s recent end of life story not just for me and her, but for our listeners too who might find our story helpful, especially if you’re dealing with aging parents.
If you’re just tuning in, I’ll catch you up. At the beginning of today’s show we took a moment to honor my mother, Sarah Kraus, who passed away this week at the age of 94. She was a smart woman and my mentor and she played a pivotal role in the founding and the naming of Arkansas Flag & Banner. Because this show is about paying our experiential knowledge forward, I would like to share what I learned in the last six weeks as my mother lived and died in a hospital bed in my den.
She was residing at Woodland Heights, an upscale assisted living facility in Little Rock when her health took a turn for the worst. We found Woodland Heights care to be subpar. It’s easy for me to recognize poor management and poor processes. There was lots of excuse making, lots of employee turnover and an uncooperative nursing staff to say the least. My anxieties and sleeplessness grew as I felt more and more helpless.
Husband, Grady McCoy, who we’ll now refer to as St. Grady, suggested bringing her home to our house. This sounds like a bad dream come true seeing your mother nude, wiping your mother’s mouth and the dreaded changing your mother’s diaper, but for some reason, when St. Grady suggested it, along with the dread came a sense of peace too.
On December 31st, New Year’s Eve, with the help of Arkansas Hospice, we moved mom into our den. First of all, my mother’s hand, face and feet looked old, but her body, I guess shielded from wind and weather, was beautiful. I had no idea that women’s bodies are beautiful till the day they die, and changing her diaper was no more than changing a baby’s diaper.
All the end of life fears I had harbored in the back of my mind for 10 years were unwarranted, and that is the gift I would like to give to you today. As your parents age, try not to worry about the end of life episode. It may not be what you’re thinking.
When I went to work in the day, I was lucky enough to be able to afford a caregiver, but in the evening, it was just me and St. Grady caring for my mother. Like a baby, and as the saying goes, once man, twice a child, the dying comes to you in a quiet way, and as they progress, so do you. It’s a learning progress, that for us came in manageable bite sizes. As it seems with all of life, you’re never given more than you can handle.
Thank you for listening and spending time with me. My guess, Bob Bidwell and the UIYB staff, if you think program isn’t about you, you’re right. It’s also been for me. Thank you for letting me fulfill my destiny. My hope today is that you’ve heard or learned something that’s been inspiring or enlightening and that it, whatever it is, will help you up your business, your independence or your life.
I’m Kerry McCoy and I’ll see you next time on Up in Your Business. Until then, be brave and keep it up.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[0:55:14.3] TB: You’ve been listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. If you’d like to hear this program again, next week, go to flagandbanner.com, click on the tab labeled radio show and there you’ll find a podcast with links to resources you heard discussed on today’s show.
Kerry’s goal; to help you live the American dream.