words by Cal Roach
Happy Friday to you all out in WMSE Listener Land — it’s the final day of the WMSE Fall Membership Drive! So, in lieu of the Friday ‘Linky McLinkster’ post, we opted to have our resident Linky post-er, Cal Roach, recount what it was that made him fall in love with the location of 91.7 FM on his radio dial here in Milwaukee. So, sit back, enjoy and feel the love and show your own love by supporting listener-powered radio at WMSE.org or by calling 414-799-1917.
Back when I first moved to Milwaukee in 1994, there was no local music scene. HA! Or, maybe I’d moved from one small town to another, except this new one was enclosed in a beercan-shaped tower of tiny rooms, and for the ensuing year, going into Milwaukee was still leaving home. As a college kid, I saw Willy Porter a few times, and Boris The Sprinkler several times, of course. I had friends who were in bands, and I saw them play at house parties, and even at The Globe or, um, Harpo’s, if they were lucky. But even when I’d occasionally go to a show at Cactus Club or something, I had no connection to the local scene; I hadn’t discovered the community.
Then I made a major lifestyle change: Pizza Delivery Boy. I found myself listening to the radio a lot in the car. I’d hear a song and wonder what it was. I’d wait and wait, and the idiot commercial-station DJ would never back announce all the songs. Sometimes I’d dash into the pizza store and try to call the station; busy signal. After a dozen tries I’d give up.
I got sick of commercial radio really quickly, but more and more I’d turn the knob to approximately 91.7, just to see what might be on. At first I’d usually turn it off and pop in a cassette, not being properly schooled in underground music. But it wasn’t long before I discovered certain programs that I could happily leave on for three hours. And the DJs would almost always back-announce everything. And if I tried to call, someone would almost always answer! This was a revelation.
One night I heard this crazy, electric violin band on WMSE. I learned that they were called The Danglers, from right here in Milwaukee. Soon afterwards I heard they were playing at a tavern where (AHEM) I might not be asked for my driver’s license upon entry. That turned out to be one of the most mind-blowing live music experiences I’d yet had.
From that point on, I couldn’t possibly estimate how many local bands I’ve discovered through WMSE. Twenty minutes or so of local music at 1 p.m. every day. A half-hour live performance every Tuesday night at 8 p.m. Local music all the time, throughout every day, not because they have to but because there’s so much good stuff. I’m a local music junkie now because of WMSE, and I’d recommend it to anyone. The interactive relationships between listener and DJ, radio station and community, make this all possible. Any fan of any local band owes WMSE big time, if only for that little extra boost of publicity that sells five more hand stamps to the next show, that helps justify the purchase of a new guitar, that inspires some incredible new songs, that then get played on WMSE…you get the picture. Let’s keep this alive, Milwaukee. Become a supporting member of this community and donate today.