Online chat with Lisa Key

April 29, 2007

On Tuesday, April 24, The Herald-Mail hosted a live online chat with Lisa Key, the circulation manager of the Washington County Free Library, regarding the upcoming "Teen Idol" contest. What follows is an edited version of the transcript.

There are no other chats scheduled at this time. If you have a suggestion of someone you would like to have participate in a chat, send an e-mail to

Leon: Hello Lisa. I wish to congratulate you on your endeavor of bringing this contest to the youth of our community and would like to know if you intend to widen this affair in the coming years. The teens deserve a giving person of your nature.

Lisa: Thank you, Leon, for the compliment. Yes, we do intend on widening this event. We, the library and The Maryland Theatre hope to make this an annual event - challenging other counties in the state to hold their own events with the finals to be held at The Maryland Theatre.


Moderator: You're the circulation manager of the Washington County Free Library, which doesn't seem like a natural match with a musical talent contest. Why is the library participating in the "Teen Idol" contest?

Lisa: I have been asked this question quite often. The whole idea is to create programs to bring the teens into the library and expose them to all of the resources that are available.

Moderator: Are you a musician and have you ever performed in public?

Lisa: I did play a little guitar and violin when I was younger. As far as performing in public, does singing in the car count?

Moderator: Would that have included any recitals?

Lisa: Well sure, there were a few recitals when I was younger. I think my big stage moment was "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."

Moderator: Can rock bands participate in this contest, or is it like "American Idol," where only solo performances are allowed?

Lisa: Since we patterned this after the TV show "American Idol," only solo artists can participate. However, there will be a teen rock band named Defyance performing during intermission the night of the show.

Moderator: We understand the competitors had to submit audition tapes. Have you heard them all and, without naming names, were there any that really stood out in your mind?

Lisa: Yes, I did listen to all 23 and in all fairness, everyone was good, but there was one that moved me to tears.

Moderator: And why was that?

Lisa: For such a young person, they felt what they were singing and, to me, their interpretation of the lyrics was so moving.

Moderator: Were there any that made you want to advise the young performer that they leave the music business to other people? In other words, did anyone really stink?

Lisa: I would have to say no, there were no William Hungs or Sanjayas in the group.

Moderator: What about them made you feel that they were in some way talented or that they knew what they were doing?

Lisa: All of the tapes submitted were not just audio. Some were video. They had stage presence, and as I said, they felt what they were singing and some of them accompanied themselves on the guitar or the piano. You could just tell that they took their time and that this was important to them.

John: Lisa, you've been doing a great job with this "Teen Idol" program. Could you tell folks about some of the other programs for teens - current and future?

Lisa: Thank you, John. And yes, we do have other programs in the planning stage. We are going to have another marathon game night, where the teens are locked in the library overnight. I actually had to turn teens away from the last one; we had 20 who participated. We are also going to have a forensic type program, like "CSI."

Someone will come in to explain some of the more graphic details of this science. We are also trying to coordinate the Art Council's Chili Cookoff with a Battle of the Bands - hot music and hot food together. We plan on having another Yu-Gi-Oh Tournament. We have those every couple of months. Usually 30 teens sign up for the Yu-Gi-Oh tournaments. We are also going to start a young adult book club.

Of course, there is the anime club that meets at the library in the Teen Loft once a month. This is where they screen the anime films and talk about them and we plan on expanding this program to include drawings and more. (Editor's note: Anime is a style of animation developed in Japan, featuring stylized, colorful characters.)

Kathleen: Hi Lisa, I was wondering if you could talk about the judges. Is there a Simon in the bunch?

Lisa: Too funny :-) The judges are going to give feedback, but we decided to make our competition more positive and encouraging. So, in answer to your question, no Simons. The judges are Joe Marscher, from the Art & Drama Department at HCC; Jeff Wine, who works for Main Line Broadcasting; and Mini Heisler, a costume designer.

Moderator: How many finalists are there and how will they be judged? Will everyone get to perform live?

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