Start a Show

Want to host a LIVE in your town?

It’s a big commitment—for you, and for us. So, the first step is to make sure that the LIVE format is right for you. Folks who are interested in producing LIVE shows tend to be:

  1. Pretty sure they could do a better job creating their own local culture than importing dumbed down culture from national media outlets;
  2. Amazed by the untapped richness of human stories and experience within their local community;
  3. Compelled by their community’s potential to serve as a microcosm for sorting out ubiquitous human dilemmas;
  4. Excited by the prospect of creating something new, and working with a team of motivated people;
  5. Driven, iconoclastic, and compulsively drawn to steep learning curves;
  6. Fond of good talk and great parties.

If any three of these qualities apply to you, that still doesn’t mean the LIVE format is right for you. There are lots of other event formats out there, and many of them are less labor intensive. Here are a few you should consider:

And, of course, you could always just make up your own show!

How is the LIVE format different?

LIVEs are primarily distinguished by their hyperlocal focus: What does it mean to live here, and what can we learn from our neighbors about how to live better? The show is constructed to help your community take full command of this question by creating a context in which you can step back far enough to observe the stories and ideas that shape who we are.

But unlike other event formats, LIVEs provide the wherewithal to not only present personal stories, but also understand how they contribute to the local identity that members of your community share in common. A story about how a kid from Long Island grew up to be a New England farmer, for instance, is relevant not just because it’s interesting, but because it tells us something about what it means to be a New Englander. By the same token, LIVEs let you discuss big ideas, but also consider how those ideas might be applied. A talk on road building, for instance, might channel the latest theory in road design, but also cite specific street names, and even appeal directly to the director of the local DPW. LIVEs exist because the letters and opinion pages of your local newspaper simply aren’t voluminous enough to provide the range and depth of thinking that tough issues require.

LIVE organizers must always be asking how the content fulfills the editorial mandate, and serves the interests of the local audience. If the audience does not have any personal stake in the content, it does not belong on the show. Random experts discoursing on their expertise have no place on a LIVE show. An Egyptologist, for instance, regardless of how fascinating her work might be, is not a suitable presenter—unless you can help her frame her research in terms of how it directly pertains to what it means to live in your town. (Perhaps, deep in the sandy tombs, she realized something about what “home” means.) This is a very different approach from many event formats, which often emphasize geeky content for its own sake (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).

A LIVE show is also distinguished by its structure. Designed as a magazine, it offers a variety of rubrics into which content can be placed. Each show begins with 5-minute opening remarks by the host; then three 10-minute interviews; then two 15-minute talks. The program also leaves room for a mini-set of music by a local musical guest—two songs after the first talk, and another after the second talk—to give the audience time to digest what they’ve heard. The modular structure provides organizers greater flexibility when placing content. After all, not everyone interviews well. And not every subject will be worthy of a full-blown talk.

Compared to other formats, LIVEs tend to require more work—not just to develop content, but to achieve production values that are worthy of that content. Given this, LIVEs also tend to be presented 1-3 times a year—relatively infrequently compared to other models. Given the work that goes into a LIVE show, organizers are also encouraged to pay themselves with sponsor and ticketing proceeds, once all other obligations have been met. This is another distinguishing feature of the show. It is essentially a journalistic enterprise. It takes time, skill, and dedication, and you should pay yourself for it. You are, after all, providing a service to your community. It is unlikely that you will ever be able to support yourself by doing these shows. But you may realistically expect to reach a point where you are making between $1000-$3000 per show.

How It Works

If you still think the LIVE format is right for you, here’s how the partnering works.

What We Will Do

  • Provide a detailed toolkit covering everything you need to produce your first two LIVEs, including: a graphics/design package, worksheets, timelines, marketing materials, etc;
  • Be available to consult on all aspects of the show, including: funding; content development; marketing; production; distribution;
  • Help in establishing your web presence.

What You Will Do

  • Sign a one-year licensing agreement. The license costs nothing, but grants us non-exclusive rights to any and all media you produce;
  • Assemble a team;
  • Find and develop your own local content;
  • Stay true to the LIVE editorial guidelines;
  • Commit to doing at least one show per year.

Applying to Become a LIVE Affiliate

We would love love love to help you get your own show up and running. There is nothing quite so satisfying as producing top notch culture locally, where you can see the impact of your work first hand, and engage with your audience in an ongoing way. But due to the amount of work involved, we ask that anyone interested in becoming an affiliate go through a formal application process. If you are interested in receiving an application, please send your request to amherstlive at