words by Ryan Schleicher
There are a lot of conversations we have behind the scenes that wouldn’t happen if we received most of our funding from a single donor or if we were heavily reliant on government resources. We operate because you, individual and business members the Milwaukee community, support the station. Because of this simple fact, we believe it is central to our mission to continue making decisions with an altruistic bent, giving back to you and everyone around you. It’s also important that we always remain a resource for folks grazing Milwaukee’s cultural landscape while continuing to find ways to be a resource to artists who may not have many resources, or who play music that is quickly being forgotten. It is in that spirit that we introduce to you the Public Access Studio. Normally we don’t send you press release language, but we think the release we sent to the media on Monday encompasses what we’re hoping to provide going forward. So let’s get to it:
After receiving tremendous community support to retrofit its live performance and recording studios, WMSE is giving back to the community by expanding the use of its downtown location [of the Bob & Genie Friedman Live Performance Studio
] as a Public Access Studio to serve the needs of underserved, socio-economic artists. Additionally, the WMSE Public Access Studio, which also includes a mobile element, strives to document Milwaukee’s underrepresented and vanishing musical arts.”The mission of our Public Access Studio is to record, engineer, produce and master music for those artists who may not have the resources to do so through traditional means,” stated WMSE station manager Tom Crawford. He continued, “We also believe it’s vital to document and archive Milwaukee’s incredibly rich cultural and ethnic musical landscape.”The first group slated to take benefit from WMSE’s Public Access Studio is youth gospel group The Spirit of Charm, who this summer will record several songs, followed by multiple, one-on-one mixing and mastering sessions with WMSE recording engineer Billy Cicerelli. The sessions will be produced by long-time Milwaukee musician and producer, John Sieger. The Spirit of Charm is an African-American youth gospel group comprised of Cherice Walton-Love (13), Tykesha Pope (12), Janayshia Davis (14) and Aaliyah Davis (7). The group primarily performs in church settings, but has also appeared at senior centers, The Salvation Army and the Alexian Brothers Pavilion.
When approached about producing Milwaukee gospel music recordings utilizing the WMSE Public Access Studio, John Sieger enthusiastically responded, “Imagine living in a town where one of the greatest musical treasures America has produced lies hidden mere blocks from where you live and work. Guess what?… you do! Gospel music is lived and breathed in churches large and small in Milwaukee’s inner city. The fact that WMSE is about to open its studio to some of the most moving performers this town has ever seen, wow, yes, I’m on board. This is public access in its truest form.”
WMSE has also formed a relationship with the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO) through which the station will utilize a mobile Public Access Studio to accommodate MYSO’s larger group needs. MYSO offers The New Orleans Jazz Stompers, a summer program that features a 12-piece group of youth currently in grades 7 through 10. The program teaches the music and history of the birthplace of Jazz, New Orleans, focusing on early New Orleans jazz, brass marches, French quadrilles, ragtime and blues with collective polyphonic improvisation. Due to the size of the group and the limited time-frame of the summer program, WMSE’s Billy Cicerelli will utilize a mobile recording studio to record The Stompers.
WMSE 91.7FM is a listener-supported radio station owned and operated by Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) whose mission is to support and enhance the Milwaukee community, entertain and educate members of the Milwaukee community by providing a wide selection of musical programming that they can’t readily hear elsewhere, be an effective and creative public outlet for local artists who would otherwise receive little or no broadcast exposure in our community, all while enhancing the image of, and bringing tangible value to, MSOE.