“There is something going on every single day, it’s awesome. I honestly feel that the Valley is experiencing a renaissance of sorts and I’m very glad to be witnessing it first-hand.” – Dustin Schoof
I recently learned that some “local” weekly papers are not local at all – rather, they are mass produced across the country after being written in another state, then filled in with one or two local stories and maybe a cover promoting a local band or event.
You’ll be happy to know that EXPOSED Weekly Paper, part of the Easton Express Times, is 100% local content, composed every week by a team of passionate writers. Dustin Schoof leads the pack as editor, and enforces a commitment to quality content with a focus on local people and events. How refreshing!
Here, Dustin talks about what it’s like to have the insiders advantage of writing about arts, entertainment and culture that can be found in the Valley every night of the week (you hear that, naysayers? EVERY NIGHT!).
Were you always interested in writing and journalism? What made you decide to get involved with EXPOSED?
I’ve been drawn to writing, specifically journalism as long as I can remember. When I was about 12 or 13, a friend and I came up with our own sports publication that we typed on an old Mac computer and distributed it to some of our neighbors. My dad printed up copies and bound them for us and then we went door-to-door pitching what we thought was the Lehigh Valley’s premiere sports publication (when in reality it was us talking about our favorite baseball teams, but hey, we were young). We only gave out a few, but it was my first taste of journalism.
But I have to say it was comic books that inspired me at a young age. Growing up, my favorite character was Superman. But when he was Clark Kent he worked as a reporter for The Daily Planet. And Peter Parker took pictures for The Daily Bugle when he wasn’t saving the city from the Green Goblin as Spider-Man. My fascination with the medium planted the seeds that eventually grew into a passion for writing. Through high school and college, that’s all I wanted to do even though as I got older I became enamored with rock journalism and various publications like Guitar World, Rolling Stone, Revolver and Blender, etc. The films “High Fidelity” and “Almost Famous” cemented my desire to write about music for a living. Luckily, I’m able to do a lot of that on a daily basis and still find time to fight the forces of evil.
How has your personal opinion of the Valley been influenced by working at Exposed and meeting so many people?
There are so many interesting and fun things happening in the Lehigh Valley on a daily basis. You don’t have to wait for the weekend. There is something going on every single day, it’s awesome.
I honestly feel that the Lehigh Valley is experiencing an artistic and cultural renaissance of sorts and I’m very glad to be witnessing it first-hand. There is a lot of vibrancy in the area, from local arts to music to comedy to movies to food and restaurants. There really is something for everyone here.
Exposed lists weekly events – how do you find out about all the things happening that week? Do people come to you or do you seek them out?
We find out about events through a combination of press releases, e-mails and talking with people in the community. EXPOSED is on FACEBOOK , MYSPACE and TWITTER, where users can send us info on upcoming events. Readers can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or submit an event on The Express-Times web site at lehighvalleylive.com. Social networking and the Internet on the whole have become integral tools in communicating with readers and helping get the word out about local events.
What sets EXPOSED apart from other weekly papers?
As editor of EXPOSED, I’m a little biased here, but I honestly feel that EXPOSED offers something unique that sets us apart from the pack. We have some of the most talented, award-winning writers and designers in the Lehigh Valley generating interesting and enjoyable content you can’t find else.
Our motto is local, local, local and I must say, I think we do a darn good job of delivering just that, whether it’s music, arts or dining. Plus we have our own celebrity gossip columnist and resident beer expert. And if there is something me missed or are missing out on, please, let us know. We want to hear from you.
What are some of your best memories that have come from working at EXPOSED?
EXPOSED has been around for a little more than two years, but I’ve been writing for The Express-Times, which publishes EXPOSED, for almost five years now. In that time span I’ve been very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to interview a lot of my own influences.
The list of names includes Stan Lee, Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith, Chris Cornell, Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley of Kiss, Duff McKagan of Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver, Jim Breuer and Kevin Nealon of “SNL” fame and Reel Big Fish, among others. I’d have to say though, the two moments that stick out the most were attending the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremonies in 2007 and 2008. Sitting backstage in the press room, I was literally a foot away from Aretha Franklin, Keith Richards, Madonna, Tom Hanks, Patti Smith, Grandmaster Flash, Stephen Stills, Sammy Hagar, Slash and Iggy Pop.
I also got to sit in on a press panel and test screening with Jerry Seinfeld in Philadelphia when he was promoting “Bee Movie.” There were maybe 10 reporters in the room, including me, Seinfeld and the film’s producer and director. That was really fun.
As a musician, do you feel like writing for a paper that features a lot of musicians and bands is something intuitive to you and your interests?
I think it’s definitely intuitive to my interests, both as a musician and as a fan and admirer of music and pop culture in general. I love music. It sounds cheesy, but it’s in my blood. I eat, sleep and breathe music, so writing is another way of channeling that energy and passion. I also learn a lot from talking to musicians, be it local performers or professional/touring musicians.
Tell us about your band and where we can find you.
I play bass in the cover duo, Blue Jean. Our set list is made up of primarily covers and a handful of original songs thrown in, that you can check out at myspace.com/bluejeanrocks. We’re not out to change the world. We just like playing some good tunes and having fun doing it.
Do you find that more and more young people are getting involved in the community and local economy? Can you point out any specific things you have seen change for the better in the past few years?
I think teens are becoming more involved in a positive way. Not to sound like a broken record (no pun intended), but I believe music has been the chain that has linked more and more young people together. There has always been bands, but it seems over the last few years there has a been surplus of bands cropping up and I think that’s great. Music unites us all.
Another example of teens getting involved would be the 2008 presidential election. Teens harnessed the power of the web and social networking to have their voices heard and encourage other teens to become active in their community and make them more knowledgeable of the world around them.
Do you see yourself always being involved in writing and community building?
God willing, I hope to be involved in writing as long as I live. I can’t see myself doing anything else. I don’t want to do anything else.
If someone was unsure about moving to the area, what would you tell them to convince them that the area is a great place to live?
The Lehigh Valley really is a wonderful place to live in. There is a thriving music scene, along with a vast array of burgeoning artists, designers, chefs and some of the most delicious and finest foods in Pennsylvania. Within minutes, you can travel from a bustling city to the quiet outskirts of town. That’s not to mention a fantastic and affordable ballpark and numerous historic buildings and venues. I mean, what more can you ask for?
YOU CAN FIND EXPOSED PAPER ALL OVER THE VALLEY (SERIOUSLY, EVERYWHERE). IT IS FREE!!!