By Julie Pendray
IDYLLWILD, Calif. — At the outer end of Cape Cod there exists a far out little radio station with a show called Leggs Up and Dancin’ With Lady Di.
“Many times on the air, I’ve said I’ll stop singing because so-and-so said I was out of tune and the minute I say that, the phone lights up,” she says.
But the callers say, “You keep on singing. We don’t care if you’re in tune or not. We want to hear you.”
“So that’s how I do it,” says Lady Di, with her bouffant hair, bright pink and red blouse, huge hoop earrings, diamante glasses and pink lipstick.
“I gotta fix my bra,” she says with a smile. “It’s the story of my life.”
We can’t tell whether Lady Di is a guy or not at this point but in this little village out among the sand dunes, who cares?
For 30 years, WOMR has been offering an eclectic line up of volunteer disc jockeys from the community with a sound that is “left of the dial and at the center of the heart.”
The station is celebrated in an independent movie, “Outermost Radio,” screening tonight at Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema.
The movie’s writer and director, Alan Chebot, has flown in from Boston to appear at the screening. He’s a multiple Emmy award winning TV producer.
Chebot says he has a personal connection with Provincetown because his family used to vacation there when he was a child. The movie opens with family movie footage that is classic Americana.
About 3 1/2 years ago, Chebot was driving out there when he switched on the radio and heard Lady Di.
“I thought the show was hysterical. It was kitschy,” he said in an interview for this story.
He became so intrigued that he went to meet the station volunteers and told them “You should make a movie out of this one day.”
They said, “Go right ahead.”
So, 50 years after his family had gone with their movie camera on vacation, Alan went back with his own camera to make an indie flick.
“Outermost Radio” is like a blend of “Good Morning Vietnam,” “Prairie Home Companion” and Key West. It’s a hoot.
“There’s a Thoreau quote that says a man came out to the end of the Cape and turned his back on the rest of America,” says DJ Matty Dread in the movie. “That pretty much sums up the whole area for me. We don’t feel constricted by the norms of the mainland here. If you want to be a little freaky, that’s OK.”
Lady Di adds, “You can come here and be yourself. There’s no facade you have to put on. Just be honest and open with people.”
Provincetown is described in the movie as “the most liberal town in the most liberal state in the nation.”
“There are a lot of people at the station that are connected with the far left, a lot of people in the peace movement,” says station manager John Nelson. “There’s tremendous support here for Occupy USA.”
Listener “Captain” Ken Martin, a boat builder from Plymouth, says he’s a convert from talk radio.
“I can’t take the hate anymore. I used to love the hate. With OMR, one minute it’ll be opera. One minute it’ll be blues, zydeco, Cajun. It’s all good.”
“It’s friends broadcasting to friends,” a listener says. “You don’t get that in the corporate world.”
The whole crux of this movie is community.
When the station’s antenna is blown down in a storm, volunteers need to raise $60,000 to replace it. Fortunately, they are able to continue livestreaming but the radio signal is down for 134 days.
Eventually, they raise nearly all the funds.
So what do they do?
Throw a party, of course!
“The devotion and loyalty of this community to this project never ceases to amaze me,” says one of the DJs.
The incentives are to keep the community together and to enjoy self-expression.
“It’s that freedom of expression that I will go to bat for and fight for,” Matty Dread says. “We reserve the right to be offensive.
“I think it says a lot about this organization that we have the strength to overcome just about anything,” he adds.
“You can have your own station, you know. This is America. Go for it!” says another.
One of Provincetown’s boat builders hits the nail on the head.
“I think people tune in because it’s somewhere local, even if it’s not their own ‘local,'” he says.
Livestreamed listeners come in from Japan, Spain, Australia and other parts of the world via womr.org
“This is radio the old-fashioned way,” Chebot said in his Idyllwild interview.
His production has been covered on National Public Radio and was selected for the Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival.
The pleasure in viewing “Outermost Radio” is not just about quirky characters. There are stunning segues to shots of sunsets over the ocean, cruise ships going by and the windswept arty village.
“Outermost Radio” is an inspiration for all kinds of communities. It is at times hilarious and heart warming. Even for anyone who might be tempted to judge the alternative lifestyles, in the end, Lady Di simply touches on a level that goes deep. She is the heart of this flick.
As she says, “Don’t try to understand it, just accept.”
This movie was produced by Sarah-Taylor Wieluns. It shows from 6:15 to 7:15 tonight at Caine Learning Center at 54385 Pine Crest Ave., Idyllwild.
Copyright to Julie Pendray and SpecialsNotOnTheMenu.com