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Media Manipulation: The new CD magazine 'dorisMartini' blurs the boundaries between genres.

Audio Delight

With 'dorisMartini' audio magazine, pesky subscription cards are a thing of the past

By Davina Baum

THE PROBLEM happens in these places: in the car, on the train, along the jogging trail. Headphones are on; the frustrations set in. Even the mix CD that Aunt Doris burned on her Pro Tools-enhanced G4 with advance copies of Radiohead or Natalie Merchant--all downloaded off her file-sharing service--isn't punching the fun buttons any more. It's just sound, just instruments and lyrics.

Or, another scenario: paging through Rolling Stone, overwhelmed by the Tommy Boy perfume samples. Reading a CD review, you just want to hear it, you gotta get a taste of the honey before you buy the whole jar.

The need is real, it exists, so why can't the intellectual pleasure of a magazine be combined with the aural joy of a CD? dorisMartini does just that.

This Santa Cruz-based creation comes on a CD but is sold in bookstores. It incorporates music, interviews and comic skits. The second "issue" is on the stands now (hereon out, quotations will be done away with, and the dissonance of calling a CD an issue will be considered done with, explained, accepted as a simple paradigm shift).

The tagline that dorisMartini co-creators Kati Sprenger and Rodney Metoyer slap on the CD's sleeve is "Your monthly eyes and ears on independent music," but it's more than that. After all, a piece called "the conspiracy-theory minute," in which a reporter muses on the connections between feel-good public-service announcements, the oil and gas industry, railroads, Vice President Dick Cheney and multiplex theaters, has a very tenuous connection to music.

But Sprenger and Metoyer do focus on music, and their first and second issues highlight Chaos Lounge, the Lowdowns, the Huxtables, Dru, Craig's Brother and Last Friday's Generation--all local musicians skewed to the rock side of the musical spectrum.

The focus is local, although Spenger and Metoyer hope to expand their reach; "Our whole point," Sprenger says, "is to highlight all independent music."

After graduating from broadcasting school this spring, Sprenger says, "I came up with the idea to create some mix of music, interviews and comedy."

The idea is obviously a new one. The magazine stands and bookstores where dorisMartini is distributed for the bargain price of $4.85 must barely know what to do with a CD, so used are they to the stacks of paper magazines. "We do pitch it as an audio magazine," Sprenger says. "After explaining it over and over again, people finally catch on and understand it. Most [of the bookstores] have finally broken down and put us on the counter."

Listening to dorisMartini is a dissonant experience. It offers more than just background noise; it requires attention--like NPR, but funnier. Sprenger explains that "our original expectation was that people would listen to it on their drive to work in lieu of listening to horrible morning-show DJs, or at the gym or cleaning house."

The skits are funny, with a very goofy edge. The first issue has a piece exploring "the gross misrepresentation of the facts" perpetrated by Ted Nugent's version of "Cat-Scratch Fever," incorporating expert testimony by a Dr. Richard Ramrod. "That bastard Ted Nugent," he says, "has got people thinking that the symptoms of cat-scratch fever are playing wicked hard guitar riffs and getting tons of pussy, and as a former sufferer of CSF, I can tell you that's not the case."

Sprenger writes and produces all the comedy pieces and does most of the interviewing and general production, although she's enlisted others--"anyone I can drag off the street, mostly family and friends." Rodney does the sales and marketing and produces some of the interviews. Two other people help out.

DorisMartini has plans to incorporate multimedia and hopes to get advertisers on the audio magazine wagon at some point. In marketing themselves, Sprenger says, "We compare ourselves to Rolling Stone in the early days, or sometimes MTV--also early days--but that's only when we're feeling big-headed. ... The big difference between us and them is that it's really important to all of us that we don't compromise what we are willing to say in order to appeal to a wider audience. Although I'm sure all that will change as soon as there's actual money on the table."

For a list of all the stores that sell 'dorisMartini,' see www.dorismartini.com.

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From the November 22-28, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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