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Happy Radio Day! Here's our favorite radio memories

Radio holds a special place in our hearts. Sure, we may be a little biased, but there is something about the medium that holds a lot of sentimental attachment. Here are the favorite radio memories of our DJs to celebrate National Radio Day!


Sometime in the mid 80's, we got a new stereo receiver for the rec room in the basement. One of those huge ones with the big metal dial that picked up twice as many radio stations as we ever got on the boom box. I remember late one night, sitting down there, starting on the far right side of the dial, turning slowly towards the left, stopping at every station on the way..static and all. Not much caught my attention until I hit 91.7fm. WOW....what's that computer-sounding beat? Are they signing in German? I immediately put in a cassette and pushed record. I've been hooked ever since. Oh, and what was that song? Trio's "DaDaDa". 


In the mid-90s I was bit by the Ska bug.  I feel in love with the mid-west Ska movement, and would stay up late on Sunday nights to hear Chuck Wren's American Skathic show on WNUR 89.3 FM out of Chicago.  Growing up in Kenosha, I could get the show to tune in from one corner of my bedroom.  I'd stay up to hear the sounds of bands like The Slackers, Deals Gone Band and The Invaders.  (All bands who I would play with later in my life.)
It was special time of music discovery, that I cherish to this day.


A radio was always present when I was growing up in Milwaukee.  My family had it on all the time -- in the morning it was tuned to some news talk station.  On the way to school, we'd listen to Lazer 103 for Bob and Brian or Dave and Carole on WKLH.  Then at night, my mom would always listen to Delilah After Dark on Light 97.3.  Between the ages of 9 and 12, I heard a life's worth of horrible ballads, or sap music, as my mom would call it.  As I grew up, I realized I didn't have to listen to the stations my parents listened to. Instead, I would listen to Lazer 103 or New Rock 102.1, where for better or worse, I got my fill of Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stone Temple Pilots and Nirvana.  

It wasn't until I was a student at UW-Milwaukee that I really discovered non-commercial radio.  I would listen to Morning Edition on WUWM to get news updates, right before the mandatory "news quizzes" in my journalism classes.  I started reading the Shepherd Express, and that's where I heard about 91.7 WMSE.  And it wasn't long after until I found 88Nine Radio Milwaukee.  I realized it was possible to listen to the radio without hearing commercials.  I realized I could just decide to not hear them. I haven't moved my tuner much to the right since.


I must have been around 4. I was in the backseat of my Mother's 1985 Mustang. We were driving down a country road with the windows open. Stevie Wonder's "I Just Called to Say I Love You" was on the radio. I cherish that memory the most. 


In eighth grade (1983-84), I discovered that the high school I was about to attend (Glenbard West in Glen Ellyn, Illinois) had a non-commercial radio station (WGHS, 88.5 FM, "The Castle That Rocks"). When I tuned-in for the first time, I heard young up-and-coming bands like U2, R.E.M., New Order and Depeche Mode being played alongside more established bands like The Clash, The Police and Billy Idol. I was hooked and have been ever since. It's no accident that I have come full circle and have returned to non-commradio after a twenty-year stint (1993-2013) in commercial radio.


When I was probably 17 years old, my grandma told me about a radio program called This American Life. I listened to it on 89.7 WUWM on my way home from work one day. I pulled into the driveway and stayed there, parked, listening for next half and hour. Later I read interviews with Ira Glass, the host of The American Life, and he calls those "Driveway Moments." I have had many true driveway moments listening to This American Life on WUWM. 
My grandma always said, "I wish I had two lives. One to do my normal things, and one just to listen to the radio." I couldn't agree more. 


A radio DJ by the name of Neci played huge role in love affair with Bjork’s music. Neci was the overnight DJ for WHFS in the DC and Baltimore area.  While studying Architecture at Howard University in DC, I listened to WHFS late at night working on projects. Then one night Neci played this song “Birthday” by this Icelandic group Sugarcubes back in 1992.  The song was amazing, but the voice is what caught my attention. I called Neci at least once a week to request the song.  I needed to know more about the singer.  I finally found out that the singer was Bjork.  Then, Neci, played the single “Human Behavior” track from Bjork’s first album Debut and I was hooked!  I bought the album next day.  I now have everything that Bjork as done including her jazz album and the Icelandic version of the song that started it all on 45. You can say Bjork’s music is how I became in love with electronic music. 




When I was in high school, the daily commute took 45 minutes to get to school and 45 minutes to get home. It was this daily drive that sparked my interest in the medium. I listened to every station and paid close attention to every DJ. My favorite DJ was Carole Caine. She was quick and witty, and also had a natural maternal instinct that I connected to. I remember thinking to myself how lucky I was to have her in my city and on my radio dial. Thank you, Carol Kane, for inspiring my teenage-self. 


I was in grade school and every year the 5th grade class got to go to this place downtown in KC that was basically a little fake city where kids got to pretend they were in the real world. Everybody got a "job" and we'd spend the day working those "jobs." Some kids worked as managers or fast food servers and whatnot but I somehow got to be the "radio DJ"-- everybody was was jealous because my job was the one that was fun. I was pretty good if I remember it right...


My family really raised us on public radio. We traveled a lot as kids, and a specific memory I have is always looking forward to road trips because my dad  would pre-tape old shows of Prairie Home Companion off Minnesota Public Radio to listen to while he drove. Garrison Keillor almost feels like a distant relative still today. I can still remember being kids in the backseat and reciting, "KETCHUP, FOR THE GOOD TIMES!" 

What's YOUR favorite radio memory? Share on the 88Nine Facebook page!


Director of Digital Content | Radio Milwaukee