When I was in 6th grade, and living in Oklahoma, one of the DJs on a local radio station moved into my family’s neighborhood. I think his name was something terrible, something like Jimmy Rocket. I was really pumped, especially when I’d see him pulling his car into the garage every couple of weeks. I used to think being a radio DJ would be the best job ever. And then I developed musical taste and realized how soul-crushing it would be as an adult with fully operational cognitive abilities to DJ for a commercial radio station, especially one that catered to the tastes of teenagers. So the dream sort of withered on the vine. And then when I was a senior in high school my dad bought me a subscription to CMJ and I learned that there was something called college radio. It wasn’t long before I learned there was even something called pirate radio. And the dream sent out tiny hope tendrils. And then I took a radio documentary class as an undergraduate and made a 15 minute long This American LIfe-style piece about BYU’s Inernational Cinema program. It was the most fun thing I did in a college class, probably. And the dream developed a single tap root, burrowing blindly deeper and deeper. And then I came to Wisconsin and learned about WORT and WSUM. And then I learned that one of my former students, a non-traditional student who had led a a really interesting life was hosting a radio show on WSUM. And then I appeared on his show as a guest (listen to a .mp3 of that show) to talk about the Writers in Prisons Project and really enjoyed being in a radio studio and seeing all the equipment and how the guts of a radio program worked.
So that was it. That was as close as I got. And then I ran into that former student in the library last week ago and we talked and I mentioned how I had wanted for a long time to have a music show on the radio and how I had made plans with a colleague from grad school but he never followed through on them and we never applied for a spot and how it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. And he said, “well, wouldn’t you know…”
And now I’m going to be DJing a weekly radio show with Pete Hnilicka every Thursday from 11AM-noon [`central time] on WSUM (91.7) in Madison starting this week!!! You can stream the show live from their website. I’m not sure what we’re going to call the show yet, but the plan is for each show to have some kind of starting theme and then proceed through a six degrees of separation kind of deal where each song connects in some way to the following song. Pete’s going to primarily select more mainstream/classic rock type tunes, and I’m going to go a bit more indie and eclectic with my choice. And for our first show, this Thursday, you ask? It’s starting with Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” Boom.