The Big O 101.9 radio host and actor, Omaha
Interview with Dave Wingert, relayed by Nebraskans for the Arts Director, Marjorie Maas
MM: What are your first memories of arts in your education, how it became part of your life?
DW: In first or second grade, there was a talent show of some sort. I had memorized the poem, “Custard the Dragon,” and I remember the day standing up before the class reciting it and getting reaction and laughter. I remember that as being the beginning of a very satisfying experience – being able to have influence on an audience….to make them listen, or laugh….or be moved.
I played the coronet in junior high, but realized to get leads in the musicals, I had to be in choir – so I did that instead. My junior and senior years, I played Captain Von Trapp in “The Sound of Music” and had a lead in “The King and I.”
I went to the fine arts college at Ohio University with a minor in theatre, but had no idea about a major. The campus radio station was in the basement of the theater. There’s a memory of being on my way to a rehearsal and putting my face against the studio window – and thought about them playing music and talking, and thought it would be fun and I could do that. I had found my vocation.
MM: Tell me how theatre informs your life now.
DW: I found radio to be an intimate medium – one on one. Theatre is different; it gave me timing and collaboration, where you’re a spoke in the wheel. There are life lessons there: the importance of a good “give and take” – and a great director makes the difference. How do we find our way? With the rehearsal process, you find your way together.
I heard an interview with Kathy Bates on “Inside the Actors Studio.” She said something like, “We’re all just sitting around the campfire telling stories – what it’s like to be you, what it’s like to be me. We see how similar we are – and when we recognize that barriers come down and gives us courage to move forward.” This has been my creed; I find through theatre and radio that we are much, much more similar than we are different, and that gives me a lot of comfort.