WMSE loves free-form radio. Our format’s complete and genuine freedom allows our DJs to explore an insane number of genres — music without limitations! It’s a fact that each WMSE show has its own community within the larger, more inclusive WMSE community; diverse radio programming is rewarded with a loyal listenership like no other.
But because the WMSE DJs are only on the air for three hours each week, you the listener might not get to know them quite as well as you might like, so to give you all a bit more insight, we’re proud to introduce the Get To Know Your WMSE DJ series. Each WMSE DJ gets the same five questions, and just like our free-form format, they choose to answer however they want: short or long, intense or humorously…we ask, they answer, we post.
Sonic Diet will be posting a new addition to the biweekly series on Mondays. Now up:
DJ: Jeff Duris
Show Name: Alternative Bliss
Day/Time: Sundays, 12am – 3am
How do you spend your days and nights when not hosting your radio show?
I spend most of my time working on trains — I’ve been a railroad conductor for the last thirty-three (plus) years. It’s a great job with lots of history behind it; the hours are long, but the world is my offices, which is awesome (especially when the weather is nice)! I’m my own boss; I enjoy the freedom of working at my own pace. I work a route that delivers cars to customers on Jones Island and the old Fifth Ward. Every day we have to operate a swing bridge over the Kinnickinnic River that is about one hundred and ten years old! I am the treasurer of my union local which keeps me busy a few evenings a month and I also try to put some time in at the station to help as needed. I’m a huge motorcycle enthusiast — I love to ride my Sporty around town (or my Buell when I feel the need for a little speed!). The AMA races at Elkhart Lake are the official start of summer. My wife Debbie and I love to watch movies and listen to music. We listen to our favorite shows on WMSE on a couple nights, either live or archived. On Saturdays, the whole house is filled with music! We’re listening to songs, new and old, to play on the air. We both enjoy discovering a great new song; I love getting a call from a listener, asking who the artist is of a song they are enjoying! We have a daughter in college, so I hear, “Dad, you should play this!” a lot. Being a DJ and playing music for people is something I enjoy very much — it goes back to making mix tapes for my friends at school!
Do you remember what band, album or song took you from being a casual music listener to a passionate music lover? Is there a memory associated with that experience?
I’m fortunate to have grown up during the classic rock and the new wave eras — I’ve heard so much great music in my lifetime. It starts with the Beatles and the Ventures. My dad played in a country band, so I heard a lot of Buck Owens and Hank Williams. “Strawberry Fields Forever” is the first song to make a music lover out of me; hearing it now still gives me goose pimples! Then, it was Chicago’s second and third albums. I play drums and “25 or 6 to 4” is the song I first learned to play. I borrowed a cassette of Physical Graffiti from a friend in high school; he didn’t get it until after graduation. I think that is one of the greatest albums ever recorded! I saw Jimmy Page play a lot of songs from it in 1999, at Summerfest with the Black Crowes; it was a religious experience! Seeing a Rush concert is a guilty pleasure — I’ve seen them more than 25 times! Two more albums were the Pretenders’ first and Lou Reed’s The Blue Mask. The first time I listened to them was an experience I have never forgotten. Then there was New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Psychedelic Furs and the Cure. In the late 80s, I became a huge fan of the Chameleons, a post-punk band from Manchester — one of the coolest events of my life was meeting them after their 2002 show in Chicago! Guided By Voices’ Bee Thousand and Stereolab’s Transient Random Noise Bursts With Announcements are two more that I’m taking to the grave with me. There are so many more albums that are a part of my life and I thank WMSE for keeping all of this music in the spotlight and on the air!
What band have you heard or discovered in the past six months that reminded you why you want to continue being a WMSE DJ?
I’ve become a huge fan of the Horrors. Their 2011 album Skying is awesome! The airy keyboards, layered guitars and the vocals of Faris Rotter remind me of the Chameleons. This has lead to listening to their other discs, Strange House and Primary Colours earlier this year and they are fantastic. It has been great to be able to play this music on the air and share my enthusiasm for it with my listeners! I try to blend the new and the old together to form a “mix tape” for three hours. I love to turn it up in the studio just as I do at home!
Who is your favorite non-you WMSE DJ and why?
My favorite DJ is Alien Andre. His knowledge of music is amazing and the way he puts all of it together makes his show a masterpiece. I’ve said that he has forgotten more about music than I know. He has become a great friend and I’m a WMSE DJ because of him. Rich Mars and I have similar tastes in music and his show is always entertaining. Melissa is another favorite! She gave me my first chance on air during a membership drive — I brought some music to play on her show and we were going on the air to talk about it. She asked me a question and i shook my head to answer it (really works on the radio). I’m influenced by a lot of other hosts like Tom Crawford, Steven K, Faux Eyes, Eric Void, Erin Wolf, Jules and Mot. Some of these people have become good friends to Debbie and me. Our lives have been made richer through our friendships with them and the studio staff!
What do you want to be when you grow up?