by Diana Schwaeble
photo courtesy of Sirius
Hobokenite Meredith Ochs is a media professional who hosts a daily show on Sirius radio, does commentary on NPR, plays in a band and wrote a book last year. One of her recent pieces about women bikers called “Women and Wheels” got national attention when she won a Gracie Award. Recently, I spoke with Meredith about her work. Listening to her speak, one can understand why she is such a popular radio host. She’s funny and gracious with a low-timbered voice that pulls you into her narrative.
DS: You are an accomplished professional in media—radio host, DJ, musician, and author—what role defines you best?
MO: I would probably say writer because it all stems from the same place. Talking on the radio or writing songs – it all comes back to storytelling.
DS: How do you balance your time with all your projects?
MO: I don’t sleep! You work by deadlines. I will always tell a new editor I’m working with— you have to give me a deadline. I will never miss a deadline, but if you don’t tell me a deadline it will get pushed to the back of everything else.
DS: Recently you won a Gracie for your piece “Women and Wheels.” What inspired you to write it?
MO: I went to visit the Harley Davidson Museum and I noticed a small exhibit on these women motorcyclists. One was on the first women to cross the United States on a motorcycle in 1915 and that blew my mind. Women couldn’t vote in 1915, and I thought—well how come I don’t already know this—this is an extraordinary story. I did a lot of research and I found more women who had done incredible feats like the first women to summit Pikes Peak on a motorcycle, the first women who had a career in the army during WWII rode a motorcycle. And then yeah—I won a Gracie. I submitted it and then didn’t think about it and then when I opened the email I was so blown away.
DS: Was winning the Gracie the icing on top of a great event or hard won after years of hard work?
MO: Kind of all of those things. It all feels very hard-won. There are times when you are doing very creative stuff and you are just happy to get paid. But also I felt really strongly about the story that I was telling and I was really happy they recognized that it was a really special piece.
DS: Do you feel an affinity for women bikers? Do you have a bike?
MO: I don’t have a bike. I have ridden one. Usually when I ride it is on the back of one. I just have an affinity for them. Motorcycles are about freedom, movement, and travel and I’ve kind of structured my life around those things.
DS: You wrote a book last year called The Bruce Springsteen Vault. Tell me about it.
MO: It was a coffee table book about Bruce Springsteen with a lot of really nice images of him and they were looking for someone to write the narrative. I’ve lived in New Jersey all my life and I wasn’t a great big fan of his. But after researching him, I love him now. He’s so good not just as a musician, but as a person. He is just an extraordinary talent and a great human being and those two don’t often end up in the same package.
DS: Hoboken has been your home for years. What do you like best about it?
MO: There is so much to like about. I love the waterfront. I love the density of Hoboken. There is almost nothing you can’t get walking. You can walk everywhere. But I think if I had to pick the thing I like most it is the sense of community. That is what’s kept me here.