Local talk-show producer redefines the word ‘frugal’



And a hard placeKeith Porter has found a way around today’s affordable housing crisis. He saves a bundle by forgoing a place of his own. He floats.

“I crash with friends. And, when [business] slows down, have a girlfriend I can stay with.”

Keith Porter Photo by Dwight Hobbes
Keith Porter
Photo by Dwight Hobbes

This is not your conventional instance of being homeless. Let’s say, for the sake of semantics, he’s simply without an address in his name.

Porter lives a self-styled existence, at the center of which is his profession as a producer and musician. He produces music and music videos, plays keyboards and sings, and has a reputation for being pretty good both behind the scenes and on the front line.

His video jobs include working with members of Sounds of Blackness, noted vocalist Ray Covington’s new project and, some time back, a shoot that drew the attention of MTV (music industry complexities being what they are, he’s not at liberty to name the client). As well, he does the little jobs that a lot of professionals find fill in their blanks quite nicely in between high-profile gigs.

“[I record] weddings, community events. They’re not big things. People want a record of things.” There’s a market of clients who want to preserve things for posterity. Considering how convenient the computer has made technology, they can do considerably better for themselves than slapping pictures in a photo album or scrapbook to eventually yellow or fall out and get lost.

Porter’s also found himself a comfortable niche at Minneapolis Television Network (MTN), where he doesn’t get paid but, indeed, there’s payoff. He produces programming. For no salary.

So, what’s in it for him? For one, his name stays in circulation. Secondly, he gets to keep his chops fresh. In short, by virtue of hustling grit and mother wit, the guy has the freedom of a gypsy, keeps himself employed and, even on his downtime, has his hand in.

In 2002, he was laid off from his day job at retail giant Best Buy. “There I was, no job in sight. I had gone to a job counselor. She turned me on to one of her other [clients], Kelechi Javaaid. He needed someone to work with him on producing the music for Art of Life, his spoken word CD.”

Porter already had begun establishing himself on the Twin Cities scene. This move, though, provided traction, standing him firmly on his feet. “He told me about classes he was taking at public access [television]. So, I came over to MTN. Learned studio production, working with visuals, how to really use a camera.” With community cable television having well come into its own, not a bad move to make. At all.

How, aside from dodging that monthly bullet of home mortgage or rent to pay, does he hold body and breath together? By conserving.

“The fewer bills you have to pay, the more money you can save.” That states the obvious, which seldom is put in practice. Common sense can go a long way in terms of smarts, with so many people being intelligent. “I do my best to work out [a] way to get by.”

Facing the current financial climate, doing his best to get by, Porter states that it helps to be frugal with one’s coin. “That goes without saying. Or at least it should.”

Saving a dollar, after all, is as good as making a buck. Off the top. He readily says, “I eat less. Probably shop for a better pair of shoes. Also, I don’t drive. Save a lot of money by not driving.” Sure, that and not having to sweat rent.

Call it, if you will, a guerilla way of getting along. Porter says, “I don’t call it anything, man. When you busy making ends meet, there’s no time to describe how you getting the job done.”

Presently co-producing Soapbox on MTN, a talk show about current events, asked about how President Barack Obama is doing with the country’s money, Porter opines, “He inherited a [messed] up situation. Right off the bat, he was at a disadvantage. There’s such a thing called cause and effect, and you know, there’s the effect of the cause. We can’t really escape that.”

Porter takes a moment to measure his words. “So far as the first Black president, stuff like that, you know, on one level, we [have] a Black president. On another level, okay, this president just happens to be Black.”


Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403. 



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