In November 1996 I moved from Chicago to Madison, WI, in part to shore up my radio resume. WORT is a noncommercial, volunteer-run community radio station, 89.9 on the FM dial. While there I did some work in the promotions and music departments, produced and engineered the 60-minute morning talk show “The 8 O’Clock Buzz,” first for Friday host Jonathan Zarov and then for Monday host Linda Jameson, and hosted various nighttime indie rock shows, including an overnight stint and a monthly program in primetime that I continued to do even when I had moved back to Chicago in 2002. I finally left the station in May 2003 when I moved to Amsterdam (that commute would not have been possible).
I occasionally filled in as host of “The 8 O’Clock Buzz,” and the audio player below contains a compilation of what I’m calling “Buzz Bits”; these were originally compiled in this snippet format for use in an audition tape that I submitted to Wisconsin Public Radio. You can also hear in its entirety the first “8:00 Buzz” that I hosted when Jonathan took a month off in the summer of 1997. Guests include Matthew Rothschild, editor of Madison-based The Progressive magazine joined by Giselle Pelican (sp) of Free Speech TV. The audio abruptly ends just short of the 42-minute mark (41:41 to be exact), following an in-studio fiddle performance.
Recordings of my music shows are much more numerous and I will be posting a good number of these in the weeks to come, providing a few more details as I do.
The first of these is a show I did New Year’s Eve 1996 — my first ever on WORT. I had just moved to Madison and started working at the station in November. I had been (mildly) disappointed that, having the prior on-air experience that I had, I couldn’t get on the air right away, but I recognized New Year’s Eve as my chance. Who’d want to work 11:00 p.m.-2:00 a.m. that night? Turned out just me. I had done a couple New Year’s Eve broadcasts in college and really enjoyed being behind the mic on such a night. So I set about doing a special kind of New Year’s Eve show, one that would harken back to radio listening of my youth, namely to WLS, the top 40 station that I listened to faithfully every New Year’s Eve of the late ’70s and early ’80s as they counted down the Big 89 songs of the year just coming to an end. My idea for this night was to play 89.9 songs, 89.9 being WORT’s FM frequency, in a matter of three hours, the time I had on air. I scoured the CD and LP racks for short songs and started compiling my list. The night of the broadcast I found myself operating at a frantic pace for the two hours and 40 minutes it took to play 89.9 songs, discarding just-played records into an increasingly steep mound on the floor below me. Because of that frantic pace, I neglected to roll tape on the show until about 25 minutes in, and then forgot to turn it over and hit record when the first 45 minutes of the show had passed. Consequently, the 45 minutes you’ll find on the audio player below [New Year’s Eve, 1996/97] is all that exists of the show in recorded form. (There’s also an unfortunate audio break that interrupts a Liz Phair song and skips forward; I’m not sure what happened there.)