Doing the MOM-bo

Doing the MOM-bo with Nanci Olesen, dancer and juggler extraordinaire

Presently, Olesen puts in about ten to fifteen hours a week producing the show. "In the earlier days, it was very seat-of-our-pants, kind of immediate radio, kind of like, 'Hi, we're here, here's a song,'" recalls Olesen. But more recently, her long-term radio-career aspirations have motivated her toward a more comprehensive and time-consuming approach. "It's gotten to the obsession point," she admits, "which I think happens with small businesses. I'm a little bit out of my mind, which is good. It's very healthy, to me anyway, because that's kind of how I operate. I plan to have MOM-bo heard out in the world, get it out there more. I do love my domestic life, but in the last year I can feel that I've gotten really obsessed by [the show]."

Healthy as it may be, Olesen is trying to calm her obsession--at least a little. "Right before I went to the National Federation of Community Broadcasters Conference [in mid-March of this year], I was up until three a.m. for three nights in a row, getting the press kits together to bring there. I wanted to be able to meet people and hand them a press kit." And as reward for Olesen's sacrifice of sleep, she returned from the Washington D.C.-based event with a "special merit" award for MOM-bo.

Professional recognition is gratifying, but positive listener response elicited by the show is also important to Nanci. "It's good to hear how much someone enjoys the show, because you put all this energy into what you're doing and sometimes you wonder 'Is anyone really listening?' I used to work in theater, and after a show, you know if the audience liked the performance; they're either clapping or they're not; they come up to you, or not, so you'd get an immediate idea."

When listeners do call or write to praise the show, Olesen says it's usually to express gratitude for "striking a chord." Not many women are willing to openly express their frustrations about motherhood; most moms are concerned about how they'll look if they assert their true feelings. But Nanci doesn't hesitate to mix it up, on the air or in print. Recently, she asserted her own true feelings about getting out the door with her children in her first published piece--appearing in the May issue of HipMama. As long as the feelings keep coming, she plans to carry on. How long on the MOM-bo show?

"Forever," she says. "I feel like it's my niche. You know how Erma Bombeck found this thing she was going to do, and now, when we think of Erma Bombeck, we put her with those silly little stories that sometimes have this sentimental feeling to them? Not that I want to be the new Erma Bombeck. There are people who just find what they want to do. I found my path."

Julia L. Ramirez is a St. Paul writer. Her article, "Kool-Aid Mom,"appeared in the September issue ofMinnesota Parent.

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