Radio Waves Goodbye

Kenneth Burns already covered most of this hot bloggy topic but I’ll add my thoughts. Dave Zero goes off the air in a few short weeks and it’s going to be a sad day indeed. I met Dave back in 1997 through some friends and got to know him as a fellow scenester. When Ted Offensive left Madison to head west, Dave took over Friday afternoons on WORT and steered the show in a much more palatable direction. One afternoon I was chatting with Dave while he was behind the counter at Mad City Music and he mentioned that he wanted to have live bands on his show and would I like to be the engineer? I had zero experience (ha ha) doing that but agreed and got a crash course in Rock Radio.

I learned quickly that being an engineer is more about being a good manager than an actual technician. Most bands were thrilled to do live radio and made my job easy but some folks were not so accomodating. One band leader wanted to run the board and perform; another musician yelled at me the entire time about how I didn’t know anything about mic placement (she was correct) and how her image would suffer if her band sounded shitty etc. The flip side was doing sound for such locals as The New Recruits, Cuda, The Junkers, Noahjohn, and The German Art Students among many others. The highlight for me was when The BellRays played the Hootenanny. They were in the middle of a long cross-country tour and had driven all day to get to the show. They loaded-in slowly and warmed up modestly and I thought maybe it was going to be a mellow show. Dave introduced the band around 3 pm and suddenly they exploded in that little studio like they were playing for 1000 screaming fans. The power of radio hit home that afternoon: live music over the air had a different flavor than a stage show but had the potential to reach a much larger audience. 50 or 60 years ago there was plenty of live (and local) music on radio–but these days it’s a rarity on commercial stations. Dave Zero and WORT provided me not just with a great training ground for my musical interests but also an opportunity to preserve an old art form and contribute to the local music scene.

Thanks Dave!!!

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