When you turn on the radio it’s easy to imagine that the only person in the building is the DJ and the only job is picking the next song, but the reality is that it takes 23 people working full time and another five part-time workers to make everything that we do on-air, on-line, and on-site happen. This week we talk to some of our co-workers that work behind-the scenes to make radio happen.
1. Staff writer Emily Talapa picks “Backflip” by The Front Bottoms
Justin: Whaddup Emily??
Justin: Emily, what do you do here at 88Nine?
Emily: I am a part-time staff writer, so I write cool things about cool people in the city.
Justin: You do write cool things. Check ‘em out at radiomilwaukee.org.
Emily: Check it out!
Justin: So what’s one song you can’t stop listening to?
Emily: I cannot stop listening to Backflip by The Front Bottoms.
Justin: Yes! I LOVE The Front Bottoms.
Emily: I literally love them. And the insane thing is, the first time I ever heard them, ever, was on 5 Songs.
Justin: Whoop whoop!!!!
Emily: I know, seriously. It was “Laugh ‘Til I Cry.” You put that up, probably like a year ago. And so I was like, huh, this is actually kinda good. So then I started listening to them for a while. I’ve seen them in concert, it’s great.
Justin: What do you like about them?
Emily: Brian Sella, the lead singer, his voice, is like nostalgia. I feel like I know him, and them, and I feel like the songs just like, speak to you where you feel sad all of a sudden. But like, happy that you’re sad. Which is weird.
Justin: Yes, yes! I feel like they are like a cult band. You know?
Emily: Literally. I saw them at The Rave..
Emily: Yeah, and you were there, too..
Emily: And what was that? Like, the walls were dripping. And like, literally every person there knew every single lyric.
Justin: Every, like, before he even opened his mouth. It was, like, insane.
Emily: Yes! It was fun.
Justin: What do you like about this song?
Emily: There’s these lyrics. So there’s a part where he says, “There’s nothing wrong with my lifestyle. No matter how many times I tell myself to breathe in, hold it, hold it, now let it out.”
Emily: And at that point, I usually breathe in. And then he says, “Now let it out” a second time, and then I breathe out.
Justin: That is so cute.
Emily: Yeah, it’s like, cool ‘cause it’s a really upbeat-y song, but it like, gets me to calm down a lot. I like to play it on repeat a lot in my car, and just like, scream!
- Mat and Brian started off playing in their high school talent show. Brian said they played Modest Mouse “Out of Gas” one year and Green Day’s “Hitchin a Ride” another year.
- They are playing The Rave on Saturday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m.
- “Backflip” is the 11th track off of their fourth studio album, Talon of the Hawk.
2. Traffic Director Doris Wessels picks “All Through the Night” by Cyndi Lauper
Justin: Hey Doris!
Justin: What do you do at 88Nine?
Doris: I am the Traffic Manager and Underwriting Assistant, and Traffic Manager has nothing to do with cars.
Doris: It’s putting together the schedule every day. Every day I’m working on the next day, and putting everything together, basically everything but the music.
Justin: Right. And I think, when you’re listening, it just kinda sounds like that all just happens, and it’s just like, here’s a promo… There’s like different things that aren’t the DJ, and that aren’t music, and that’s all you.
Justin: So what is the one song that you can’t stop listening to?
Doris: So right now I’m on this weird overdose of All Through the Night by Cyndi Lauper.
Justin: [laughs] Yes!
Doris: So… Well like you used to say you listen to everything. So I’m a total radio nerd, so I listen to all radio stations. And so I heard it, and was like, oh! Like, I love this song! So then what happens to me is I go down this weird rabbit hole of the Internet, where you’re researching the song and whatever. So either I didn’t know or didn’t remember that it was actually a cover of a Jules Shear song.
Justin: I did not know that.
Doris: Yeah. So then I had to listen to the original by Jules Shear. And then I found there was a version, like, there’s an outtake from the studio when Cyndi Lauper was recording it, and that’s really cool to listen to. And then also, one of my favorite bands, Girlyman, has a cover of it too. So I can just like, OD on this completely.
Justin: [laughs] Yeah, just do like the whole playlist.
Justin: What do you like about this song?
Doris: It actually… it gives me goosebumps. I think it has kind of a melancholy to it.
- In her late teens, Cyndi spent two weeks in the woods with her dog, Sparkle, trying to find herself.
- Cyndi grew up in Queens and cites The Beatles, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday as some of her early favorites.
- Listen if you like: melancholy in songs, getting goosebumps, belting it
3. Building Manager Luke Repetti picks “One Mint Julep” by King Curtis
Luke: Hey Justin, how are ya?
Justin: Good, Luke. What do you do full-time here at 88Nine?
Luke: So I’m the building and facilities manager, so I manage everything in the building. I’m kind of the default IT director. And I manage all the events that happen in the building.
Justin: Thank you for that.
Justin: What’s one song you can’t stop listening to?
Luke: Lately, it’s a song called One Mint Julep by King Curtis.
Justin: Awesome. When was it released?
Luke: This is a song that was recorded in the mid-sixties.
Luke: It was kind of an R&B/Blues-y type song that got released, I think in like 1961.
Justin: And what do you love about this song?
Luke: King Curtis is a sax player, so this version is all instrumental. And just kind of his playing is kind of infectious. It just kind of gets me moving. It’s bluesy, it’s jazzy, it has funk to it.
Justin: What do you like about the style, the way that he plays?
Luke: Well, he’s from Texas, he kind of has this, like, Texas sax sound.
Justin: Okay, what does that sound like?
Luke: It’s kind of a big, fat, loud, wailing kind of a sound. It’s a little raw, not as polished as the New York or the L.A. guys. So it’s just very, like, you can just feel it.
- King Curtis plays the famous saxophone solo on the song ‘Yakety Yak’.
- Curtis was murdered in 1971 during an argument at the young age of 37. He was moving an air conditioner into his Manhattan apartment.
- Curtis worked with the likes of Buddy Holly, Aretha Franklin, and even John Lennon.
4. Underwriting Specialist Kris DeFelice picks “Big Generator” by Yes
Justin: Hello Kris
Justin: Hi Kris. Kris what do you do here at 88Nine every day?
Kris: Every single day. I have fun. But I am the underwriting specialist here, and I work with businesses and organizations, build relationships with them and get their message to the airwaves.
Justin: And what is one song you can’t stop listening to?
Kris: By Yes, and it’s Big Generator. So, I have a little bit of history with Yes. I did a bodybuilding competition, and I used one of their songs, Owner of a Lonely Heart.
Justin: I had no idea about any of this.
Kris: Yeah. And that was really, I just loved the MMM! It was a great song to move to, and I felt powerful. And then we went to their concert years later…and this song came on, I didn’t even know what it was, but I just like, jumped out of my seat, I was just like goin’ crazy. And my husband’s looking at me like, “What is it?!” and I’d be like, “I don’t know!”
Kris: But it just like got me. It empowered me, you know? After that, I bought the album, and we were gonna have an anniversary, we were gonna go out on our anniversary and go on the Edelweiss, have a nice dinner, get all dressed up… And we had some people over in the afternoon, and our stereo is downstairs, and we were playing this album, and this song came on. And I went running down the stairs to crank it up, because I was so excited, and I hit the I-beam… FULL FORCE. I leaped off the stairs, hit the I-beam, and just went down on the floor. And my husband said he felt like the whole house had like, vibrated, and he comes running down like, “What the hell?” And, um, he was so mad at me because now I was gonna ruin our anniversary because I’m sure I had a concussion.
Justin: OH MY GOD. [laughs] This song is so good it ACTUALLY knocked you out.
- Yes played at Madison Square Garden in the 1970s more than any other performer.
- Listen if you like: British prog-rock, Asia, one-word arena rock bands
- Yes has a storied career which spans 47 years and 21 studio albums. “Big Generator” is the title track from their 12th studio release in 1987.
5. Video Producer Laura Kezman picks “Bird Set Free” by Sia
Justin: Laura, what do you do at 88Nine?
Laura: So, at 88Nine, I am the video producer. So all of the video content that you may have seen online is my fault.
Justin: So, Laura, what is one song that you can’t stop listening to?
Laura: Sia’s “Bird Set Free.”
Justin: Ahh, totally.
Laura: I have been producing a documentary for the past six years; any burst of motivation or movement that the film has had in the past year has been kind of triggered by that song. [laughs]
Justin: Really. How does it match to the documentary?
Laura: To me it’s a song about mental illness. And…
Justin: Is that what your documentary is about?
Laura: Yeah, so the documentary is a film about eating disorders. You know, there’s so much of it that it’s intended to be a voice for the people who can’t speak for themselves right now. And I feel like that is what this song is. I mean, I feel like it’s putting it into words. I mean, everything about it. Like, the melody, the rhythm, yeah. Like the visceral-ness of her voice, everything… It’s doing more than telling, it’s showing somebody else another person’s struggle. And it’s also making it universal, too. Because there’s a scream inside we all try to hide. I mean, that’s true for everybody, you know? I mean, and again, whether that is depression, or addiction, or an eating disorder, or any type of anything. We all share that as humans. But it’s the one thing that is so hard to talk about, and it’s so… Because it’s invisible.
Laura: And it’s so hard to articulate. And I think that Sia does such a beautiful job articulating that through music.
Laura: To me, it’s sort of the battle of the sufferer.
- Sia reached a high level of commercial success and attention in 2014 with her album 1000 Forms of Fear, but she started her singing career in 1993 at the age of 17.
- Listen if you like: empowering, inspiring, feel-good songs
- The deluxe edition of Sia’s 2016 album comes out on Friday, October 21st. “Bird Set Free” is the first song on the album.