DC Artscast

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Thirsty Thursday has come and gone. Rubbing the sleep from your eyes and wishing your head would explode if only to momentarily escape the constant hammering, you lazily creep your hand toward the bedside radio. Brushing aside the spaghetti sauce spilling down your linen bed sheets, you give a hearty smack to that nausea-inducing sound machine you wake up to each morning. It’s 10 a.m. The station’s 91.7 FM. A hearty voice greets your head’s pulsating throbs.

“You’re listening to The ArtsCast on 91.7 FM Madison, the Snake on the Lake.”

Slovenly rolling back to the other side of the bed, you stare at the ceiling, a merry-go-round above you, as a plethora of voices hit your eardrums.

“Today we’re talking about Chief Keef figuratively and physically blowing up the rap scene, why Ben Affleck’s Batman will have three nipples on his suit, Breaking Bad’s unhealthy obsession with breakfast and whether the 2DS is the worst named product in history.”

Well that sounds like a clusterfuck, but I like nipples on my batsuits, so I’ll stick around. 

Shielding your eyes from any visible source of light, the radio spits out sound next to you. Noise lingers on in the background bleeding forth fundamental media discourse. Minutes tick by and any ideas of attending class slip away. An hour later, you emerge from this amorphous, swirling vortex of rap, television and movies and somehow you smell faintly of sweat.
“Thanks for tuning in, we’ll be back next Friday at 10 a.m. as always, see ya!” Voices fade into music.

Well, hello there. You’ve stumbled into our lively corner of the internet. There’s a couple of cobwebs and it’s a bit musty, but that’s just Jorge. Our team started up the The ArtsCast at the beginning of 2013. What started as Jorge and I sitting in a room rhapsodizing about Halo 4 has blossomed into a seven person outfit with a weekly show every Friday. Different people jumped on over the period of the first few weeks until now, where we actually struggle to fit everyone within the five-mic WSUM studio.

The first show consisted of Jorge and I sitting in a room listening to a pre-recorded podcast. Snoozefest. Radio’s all about live interactions. To rework a Tony Kornheiser quote, “live radio, ain’t nothing like it.” At that point we knew we needed to get more members involved and have every show take place live on air.

Our initial conception of the AC entailed discussing a separate topic each week. First week of the month is movies, third is television, etc. What we realized pretty early on is that touching on a particular medium once a month really isn’t viable in today’s age. There’s no need to discuss the 24-hour news cycle, that’s been done to death, but needless to say it became obvious that the show would work far better as a mish-mash of subjects covering the week’s events. News is going to break Thursday nights and it seemed foolish to act as if that never happened. We’re a culture of immediacy, why not embrace it?

Once we got over those initial planning stages and more students like Joe, Leo, Lanni and Grant hopped on board, the show started to really take off. Creating a rhythm with the other members is something we tried to focus on to make a more realistic and naturally flowing conversation. We started planning in musical breaks, setting up specific blocks and stories for each medium and working out how exactly we wanted the show to be structured. We still fiddle with it every now and then, but for the most part, we had the foundation for a solid program. Each member can contribute to the overarching conversation while also honing in on their specific areas of interest.

Probably our first moment when we felt like the show was starting to pick up was the first phone call we received. It sounds so arbitrary in the grand scheme of things, but anyone who’s started a blog or any creative project loves the idea that someone else is out there enjoying their work with interesting things to say about it. As we discussed the merits of The Office’s interesting approach to the final season, our caller enjoyed the avenue we had taken. Dissenting opinions are embedded in radio’s DNA. We love people who want to share their opinion with us, so call in anytime!

As the semester continued, Revelry, the new music festival held at UW-Madison on Mifflin, started to ramp up. We debated the merits of its artists, whether it was ruining the spirit of Mifflin and how exactly it would work in concert with the typical rowdiness of the block party. When we found out that the police essentially canceled the actual party, I was pretty dumbfounded. The focus switched entirely to Revelry, now in charge of hosting the festivities for 40,000 in a space made for 3,000. We turned our focus to Revelry as well. Turns out it was probably the best thing to happen to our show.

We invited one of the planning directors for Revelry on for an interview, where he discussed the event as well as all the acts that were introduced. Later on, we realized that we should leverage our show’s unique focus to help prime people on Friday for the event the next day. We discussed inviting all the local acts on for interviews, while playing some of their tracks in between discussions. It sounded good, but if we have all those artists in that room, why not have them all play their tracks students could hear the next day. Cue lightbulbs above heads.

Discussing the format, we decided to have each act – CRASHprez, The Al Gore Rhythm Method, Lord of the Fly and SoundKill3r – play a few tracks followed by a brief interview. Cramming into the studio, we started the show and went right into the music. Sets ran long. Interviews got scrapped. We hustled around, moving nobs up and down, working between two separate studios. Half the time we had no clue what Joe was saying in the room across from us. It was lunacy. It was madness. It was fantastic. Letting the acts breathe and just show off their music was the best on-air decision we made. We pimped out our coverage and the viewing on our facebook page skyrocketed. Leo live tweeted the event and managed to snag some brilliant recordings from all the artists talking about our show. It’s pretty satisfying to hear Chance the Rapper tell people you’re listening to our show, especially with Joe and Leo’s great editing.

Of course we’re back again this fall and are continuing to tweak the show in hopes of making it even better. Although WSUM has its own live show, we’re still hoping to get new artists or acts in to perform or do an interview during the program. Agreeing to promotion deals with local comic book and video stores as well as WUD film, The AC’s reach is hopefully only going to expand. This very website is new, and a location where we plan to share opinions for discussions on-air, interact with listeners and maybe provide some behind the scenes looks at the idiocy going on before, after and during the ArtsCast. Of course, we’ll still have our typical conversations about all things art, but we’re hoping to augment it with interesting alternative segments as well.

Whether you were directed to our show by a friend or stumbled onto us by accident, we appreciate your listenership! So set your dials or get your streams ready to drown out that early morning lecture. We’re blasting arts into your ears every Friday at 10 a.m.
Cheers,

The ArtsCast Team

(Jorge, Grant, Leo, Joe, Lanni and Adam)