After moving to Nashville from New York in 1991, Mary opened Lucy’s Record Shop a record store and all-ages music club. It was the engaged and active kids who came to Lucy’s who renewed her interest in participatory democracy, public responsibility, and civil dialogue. After the shop closed in 1998, Mary began working in the technology sector, first at Telalink, Nashville’s first internet service provider, and then at Sitemason, a website hosting and software development company. In the year prior to the historic 2008 election, she worked with documentary filmmaker David Earnhardt as co-producer and media specialist for Earnhardt’s timely election integrity documentary, UNCOUNTED: The New Math of American Elections.
In 2004, armed with the knowledge that the 18 to 24 year old demographic was the least likely to vote and with a presidential election looming, Mary organized a voter registration drive aimed at 18-34 year olds that operated throughout the summer and culminated in the “ACT NOW! Lucy’s Record Shop Reunion Concert and Voter Registration Extravaganza” at The Belcourt Theatre in September. Later that fall she began appearing on “Teddy Bart’s Round Table,” with Teddy Bart and Karlen Evins and started co-hosting Liberadio(!) with Mary Mancini & Freddie O’Connell on Vanderbilt University’s WRVU-FM.
Liberadio(!), however, is not Mary’s first foray into broadcasting. With a Radio & Television Communications Management degree from Syracuse University SI Newhouse School of Public Communications, she has held various commercial and non-commercial broadcasting jobs, including time at WXKS-FM in Boston and WQHT-FM in NYC. She was also the first music director and one of several inaugural morning show hosts when Syracuse University’s student-owned and operated, WJPZ, made their historic leap to commercial FM.
A 2006 graduate of the Nashville Peace and Justice Center’s Leadership Institute, Mary currently serves on the board of Tennessee Citizen Action, a consumer watchdog organization, and was previously a board member for Tennessee Alliance for Progress. In 2006 and 2007, she was named to the grant review panel for the Metro Arts Commission, and was a judge for the 2006 Nashville Film Festival’s Young Filmmaker (short film) category.
Mary has also served as webmaster for various community organizations including CASA, Radio Free Nashville, the Nashville Chapter of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and the Nashville Peace and Justice Center.
two three pooches, Mary obsesses over C-Span, “The Colbert Report,” “The Daily Show,” “The West Wing,” chilled dry martinis, New York City, the Mets, Cute Overload, ice skating, softball, and all her nieces and nephews.
Freddie O’Connell is a native of Nashville, where he attended Eakin Elementary and Montgomery Bell Academy (1995). After high school, he attended Brown University (2000), where he graduated with degrees in Music (AB) and Computer Science (ScB).
Skeptical of the irrational exuberance in Silicon Valley, he returned to Nashville to become one of the first employees of Sitemason, one of Nashville’s relatively few Web start-ups which arose from the ashes of legendary local internet service provider Telalink, where he first met Mary. He later joined NetCentral, the e-commerce subsidiary of Books-A-Million. Based on the number of technology-based businesses using free and open source software, he then co-founded Sitening. One of his customers, NashvillePost.com, hired him as Director of Technology and then was acquired by SouthComm, Inc., where he worked as the Internet Strategist. Now he operates SearchViz, a boutique inbound marketing agency focused on search engine optimization and marketing, as well as web design and analytics.
Ever since returning to Nashville, Freddie has been politically active. Frustrated by the public embarrassment of the state legislature in 2002, which caused the first ever shut down of state government that year, Freddie made an unsuccessful bid at age 25 for State House of Representatives. He ran against Beth Harwell, who was then the Chair of the Tennessee Republican Party.
After his campaign, Freddie was invited to join the Board of Directors of Tennessee Alliance for Progress (TAP), for which he eventually served as Vice Chair. His board service lasted from 2002-2005. He also became active with the Nashville Peace and Justice Center (NPJC), for which he served as Chair of the Personnel Committee during 2005 and 2006, helping hire a Grassroots Coordinator.
Freddie has occasionally put his computer science degree to use for local non-profit organizations, having built the first website for the NPJC and having assisted with the sites of Nashville Americans United for Separation of Church and State and TAP.
After serving on the Membership Committee of the Belcourt Theatre for several months during 2006, Freddie was invited to co-chair the committee. He was subsequently elected to the board of directors of the theater.
From mid-2004 till early 2008, Freddie engaged in the contemporary social and economic experiment of living in Nashville car-free (and, he might add, debt-free until he bought a house in mid-2007). He was, then, clearly a natural fit for Walk/Bike Nashville, which focuses on pedestrian and cyclist issues as a path to improved livability in our fair city. They recently elected him president of their board of directors, as well. He gave up the car-free lifestyle in order to drive Daryl Hannah’s badass biodiesel El Camino.
Freddie is honored to have been asked by Mayor Karl Dean to serve on the board of directors of Nashville’s Metropolitan Transit Authority. He was given the unanimous support of the Rules and Confirmation Committee and the full Metro Council, and was recently elected Vice Chair of the board. He also serves as the MTA liaison on the mayor’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. He is enjoying the opportunity to engage in public service in his hometown.
In early 2009, he joined the board of directors of Nashville’s newest public charter school, Nashville Global Academy. He is currently Vice Chair of the board.
He is also the president of the board of Salemtown Neighbors, his local neighborhood association.
When co-host Mary Mancini had her own political epiphany during the 2004 election, Freddie accepted her invitation to start a political talk radio show to serve as a local (for now) alternative to the right-wing echo chamber, which is well represented in middle Tennessee. They’ve been encouraging civil dialogue in the reality-based community ever since. Look for them both very soon on a commercial radio station near you.