Angels and airwaves
As some of the best ideas are the least contrived, podcasting was never something Lisa Snider had planned to do. Yet four years strong, in addition to providing pithy and useful commentary about Ojai culture, Radio Ojai has become something of a blessing to local musicians. “I started it on a whim, because a friend and I were bantering about Ojai,” says Snider. She did some research and by the following weekend the podcast was online and operational. Originally titled the Ojai Moment (no doubt a reference to the city’s daily “pink moment”), it was all fun and games until musicians started stuffing her mailbox with unsolicited CDs. “I realized this is an opportunity for someone else creative to have a voice, so every week we’ve had a local unsigned musician on our show,” she explains. “It helps them promote gigs.” Featured music makers get additional boosts via Radio Ojai’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. “It seems to interest people.” Eventually, Snider found it necessary to free up more time for her myriad writing projects. With her partner having relocated to Florida, time wasn’t on the side of the podcast, so she took a “hiatus from the microphone.” For now, she plans to limit the podcast to music by emerging local artists while she stays focused on finishing her novel.

Bright lights, small city
Recruited by the Ojai Valley Inn while living in San Diego, Snider has called the Ojai Valley home for 11 years. She and her husband grew up in small towns and lived in cities of various sizes over the years but Ojai was the right fit. “Ojai is the only place that ever really felt like home,” she says. With a short play being staged by Elite Theater Company this month, and her byline in hundreds of articles for every Ventura County outlet ( including VCReporter), nearly all but one item is checked on Snider’s to-do list, and it’s a biggie: the great American novel. With an agent at the ready and an entire narrative taking up space in her head, she is spending much of her free time — including the entirety of every Sunday — tapping away at the keyboard. “The big goal is to finish and sell this novel and be a full-time writer.”

Economy of words
Play writing was never part of the plan for Snider, as she found it to be “intimidating and daunting.” When Theater 150 director Deb Norton coaxed her into taking a course there, it led to more, and eventually a winning entry in the Elite Theatre’s short play competition. Wind River Redemption, a 25-minute story that she penned using a creative writing exercise — “build your story from a gunshot” — is her first to be professionally staged. For the writer, this offers great satisfaction but also introduces the challenge of letting other people into the process as co-creators. “You have to let it go and let someone else interpret your words,” she says. “They might interpret it differently, which [can be] great.” Play writing is a completely different animal, one that requires special handling, as Snider has found. “You have to bargain for every word, it has to be really tight,” she says. “Every word choice is crucial.”

Hunting and pecking
A play about male bonding on a hunting trip may not, at first glance, seem likely territory for a woman to stake a claim to, but Snider felt it was an idea whose time had come. “In my writing classes I was surrounded by women with a chick’s perspective, and I was always dragging my husband to these showcases, and he was, like, “Oh, someone else that hates men!” she explains. So she wanted to write something her husband would enjoy. “People will think it’s about hunting but its not,” says Snider. “Hunting and the setting are just conduits. It’s about brotherhood and sibling rivalry and conservationism.” While the play has no sociopolitical agenda, Snider believes that hunting is misunderstood in America. Her husband has hunted in the West for more than 30 years as part of a long-standing family tradition. “I see how hunters are portrayed and I don’t think people [realize] they are very much conservationists, and very much about tradition and bonding with family, and a time to decompress from the ‘real world.’ ”    

Wind River Redemption, along with other short plays, may be seen during Elite Theatre Company’s One-Act Festival, Jan. 14 to Feb. 6, at the Petit Playhouse, 730 South B. St., Oxnard. For more information, visit www.elitetheatre.org.

michel@vcreporter.com