James Coberly Smith remembers filming the first episode of Boise Song Talk very well. His guest, local musician Johnny Shoes, pulled his car into the parking lot of Treasure Valley Community Television's studios, where he was greeted by a camel. The animal was a special guest on wildlife expert Corbin Maxey's show Live with the Reptile Guy, Smith explained, which was being filmed right before his program.
"I've told Johnny Shoes, 'Nobody else got a camel, buddy. Only you. No one got that treatment,'" he said, laughing. "And I watched him when he drove into the parking lot. He's looking like, 'What the heck?'"
In Smith's view, the moment illustrates a truth of public access TV.
"That's what it's like: You better be ready to roll with it, you know?" he said.
That attitude has seen Smith through three seasons of Boise Song Talk, which has featured Rebecca Scott, Rosalie Sorrels and other Idaho songwriters discussing their craft. The show's third season premiered on TVCTV April 4 with an episode on Pinto Bennett. Episodes will air Friday nights at 8 p.m., but the entire season can be viewed now at boisesongtalk.com.
Season three arrives a year and four months after season two, which aired between Oct. 5-Dec. 7, 2012. Smith explained that he used the time between seasons to hone his interviewing skills.
"You start to see how little you know and how much more you have to learn," he said. "And then you try to improve." This involved doing more research on guests and figuring out how to structure and guide interviews.
The learning process continues during the filming of each season, not just for Smith but for the Boise State University students who shoot and edit the episodes.
"Once I introduce the guest, I tell [the students], 'It's yours. It's your show. Be creative, have fun, do what you want to do. I don't want to constrain you at all.' And I think they enjoy that. ... Anything can happen, so it's a very live show," Smith said.
Smith looks forward to applying lessons learned to future interviews.
"There are plenty more people I want to talk to, no doubt about it," he said. "There's some great people in this town that I haven't talked to."