October 3, 2002
Nook' celebrates milestone
When David McCullough,
the author of the acclaimed biography of John Adams, set out to promote
the publication of his book in paperback recently, he didnt expect
that one of his best conversations would take place with a DJ from a tiny
town in Ohio.
But thats what
happened when McCullough appeared on WYSOs Book Nook,
which is hosted by Vick Mickunas, and airs weekdays at 2 p.m. as part
of Mickunass segment of the music program Excursions,
which he hosts with Niki Dakota.
That was wonderful,
a clearly surprised McCullough said following his hour-long talk with
Mickunas. Its such a pleasure to be in conversation with someone
who actually thought about the book.
When asked by Mickunas
if such a situation is unusual, McCullough said, very unusual.
a moment about 10 minutes into the interview when a light bulb goes on
in the author and they realize youve actually read their book,
Mickunas said in an interview last week. Its a wonderful feeling.
On the Book
Nook Mickunas has interviewed bestselling writers such as Pat Conroy,
Sue Grafton and Anne Lamont, celebrities such as Charlton Heston, Ted
Nugent and Buzz Aldrin and local writers such as Bob Fogarty and Katrina
Kittle. To both fiction and nonfiction, local writers and national celebrities,
Mickunas brings the same curiosity and thoughtfulness.
I love my job,
he said. I like people. I love books. I like making connections.
that those listening to his show can feel that magic, as well. Everyone
loves to eavesdrop on a good conversation, he said. I believe
that the art of conversation is in decline, and Im trying in my
own way to reverse that trend.
To ensure a good conversation,
Mickunas first does his homework, which means reading each and every book
talk for an hour and fake it, he said. Not reading the book
would be a disservice to the author. Fortunately, I love to read.
Mickunas goes into
each interview with no notes or plans. Rather, he trusts his instincts
Over the past eight
years each week Mickunas runs a balance of new interviews and old
ones Mickunas has encountered many surprises, such as the down-to-earth
nature of mystery writer Sue Grafton and the initial humbleness of current
bestselling writer Nicholas Sparks. He was less surprised by the arrogance
of Donald Trump, whose office Mickunas called every day for a month to
set up a show.
It was terrible,
he said of the Trump interview. The whole time he just talked about
how wonderful he is.
He receives considerable
positive feedback from his audience regarding the Book Nook,
Mickunas said, which doesnt surprise him since surveys identify
reading as public radio listeners favorite leisure activity.
I get e-mails
about the show all the time, he said. Ive gotten a great
I said no
about 10 times, he said. Then I finally said, Why not?
I love books.
Mickunas began loving
books as a child in Des Moines, Iowa, where his book-loving father taught
him, at age 4, to read by drawing letters on icy windows. Mickunass
mother, an artist, loved nothing more than a good conversation, and in
his book show Mickunas seems to have blended qualities of both parents.
As well as being an
avid reader, Mickunas loves music, and he began managing a record store
of diverse and eclectic music in the late 1970s. When a friend
asked him to host a morning show at a newly created jazz station, Mickunas
got involved in radio. He then moved on to an evening show at a commercial
station while he worked days as a market researcher.
In 1993, Mickunas
moved to Yellow Springs after beginning a relationship with an old high
school acquaintance, Amy Achor, who lived here. (The couple is now married.)
He didnt even know the village had a radio station, Mickunas said.When
he learned of WYSO, he promptly volunteered.
The following year,
he was offered a paying job and his own show and began his eight-year
association with the local public radio station, where he has been most
influenced by the community-mindedness of former staff member Ruth Yellowhawk
and by the sense of ethics of the stations current news director,
Aileen LeBlanc, he said.
After Mickunas began
the Book Nook in 1994, it gradually evolved into a regular
feature of his program, one that seemed to mesh well with his musical
offerings. Mickunas said he prefers both music and books to be intellectually
stimulating and emotionally evocative.
Music and books
go hand in hand, he said. Theres a very literary aspect
to music and a musical aspect to literature.
He especially enjoys
providing his listeners with experiences they would not have without public