Daren Wang launched Verb Productions in 1996 to produce programming for public radio. Over the following decade, Verb would syndicate two series nationally for public radio, with our programs heard on hundreds of stations throughout the country.
In 2005, Verb Productions shifted focus and became the production company for the Decatur Book Festival.
Daren served as the Founding Executive Director, overseeing all aspects of the event until he stepped down in 2017. Under Daren’s guidance, the DBF grew into the largest independent book festival in the country, drawing as many as 90,000 annually to the small Georgia town east of Atlanta. At its height, the DBF was considered one of the most important cultural events in the Southeast.
Daren has over three decades of experience writing, producing, and hosting audio projects, both for national broadcast and for CDs
Circle of Friends
One of Daren’s first audio projects was a one-shot holiday special for National Public Radio. In 1992, I produced, Circle of Friends, based on Remar Sutton’s book “Common Ground”. It was hosted by Oscar-winner Cliff Robertson, featuring George Plimpton, Kurt Vonnegut, and many others. The only known recording of Southern chef extraordinaire Princess Pamela is here too. Here’s the entire program:
Porches: The South and Her Writers
In the late 90’s, Daren produced Porches: The South and Her Writers, a 13-part series for public radio featuring some of the more important literary voices in the south. He researched, interviewed, wrote, and engineered these programs. They were financed by Amazon.com, a contract negotiated while the company was preparing for their IPO.
The project was formative. Daren spent nearly two years driving through the south, interviewing over 40 authors and scholars, several of which became lifelong friends. Of all the interviews, the one that remains most cherished was his talk with southern icon James Dickey. Recorded in November 1996, it was his last recorded interview before his death early the next year.
The Spoken Word
In the early 2000’s, Daren produced a public radio series called The Spoken Word which was distributed nationally. This one features Ann Beatty, David Kirby, and Barbara Hamby.
Verb: An Audioquarterly
In 2005, Daren relaunched an old audio project. Verb: An Audioquarterly was a literary magazine in audio format. Verb published some fantastic writers, including Robert Olen Butler, Ha Jin, Tom Lux, Peter Case, Stuart Dybek, and Tom Franklin. It predated the wash of podcasts, but the content is perfect for that format. Daren was discussing the project with Stuart Dybek and Tom Lux at a party one evening and Stuart mentioned that he’d written a song in response to Tom Lux’s poem My Malaria. He bemoaned the idea that there’d never been a forum for the piece, so IDarenasked him to record it for our first issue, and paired it with Tom reading his thirty-year-old poem.