A true pillar of community lies in your radio dial. Turn it to 91.7 WMSE Frontier Radio and you will hear listener supported and completely non-commercial radio. The WMSE DJs are not only connected to the local and national music community, they are the community. With air time not only dedicated to supporting the amazing music scene, WMSE also supports area events and non-profits through interviews and in house made promotional spots. WMSE is itself a maker. So it felt a perfect fit for WMSE and Maker Market to team up this season to support and be supported. This market season will be filled with amazing music brought to you by the talented staff of Frontier Radio.
Sidney McCain, Promotions Director, DJ of the fantastic show Squid Inc, and all around inspiring woman took some time, off air, to share her WMSE story.
Maker Market: Can you give a brief history of WMSE and its mission?
Sidney McCain: WMSE is a community collective of Milwaukee’s greatest music minds given profound opportunity to crash their record collections into the vast WMSE music library to provide the airwaves some of the best radio in the world! 24 hours a day and 7 days week. Open source radio with the main focus being local music made by Milwaukeeans and Wisconsinites. 100% commercial free, news free, locally focused community sponsored. All music, all the time!
MM: How did you first become a part of WMSE and what is your role at the station?
SM: I moved here two years ago from NYC after being laid off from my fancy music industry job. I wasn’t sure what my next gig would be but everyone talked about this amazing radio station called WMSE. I went to a conference with my friend Shannon where Tom Crawford was one of the guest speakers. He was very entertaining so I knew at the very least he’d be a good person to meet and a great person to know. After our meeting and seeing this amazing gem of a station I knew that’s where I was supposed to be.
I am the Promotions Director and my goal is to make sure the world knows about WMSE. I want bands as far away as Japan to know the station and want to play it when they head through Milwaukee. We are as important as a Day Trotters session in Minneapolis, a World Café in Philadelphia and a studio appearance in LA. So far so good.
MM- What inspired you to be a part of the station?
SM: The station inspires me – from the DJs, who are all experts, to the people that work here. Being able to both use my connections and skills to try and make a difference. Tom will support any idea as long as it makes sense. When I told him I wanted to do a 7” for Record Store Day,he said ‘go ahead!” From there it was reaching out to local musician, Chris Porterfield, from the band Field Report. Field Report had just played WMSE and so I got his and the labels permission to use the tracks recorded here for the 7”. I’d known Partisan Records’s President Andy Hsueh for ages and he was all for it and Chris is just aces and LOVES WMSE so he was on board from the get go. The icing on the cake was getting DJ Von Munz to do the art . I mean how lucky are we that he not only DJs here but he eats, sleeps and breathes WMSE. He is also one of the top rock poster artists in the world. Just check out the art he’s done for the White Stripes, Benjamin Booker, The Cramps – it’s incredible. I can’t tell you how lucky I am to be here. It’s really humbling.
MM- How does WMSE differ from other radio?
SM- We are the last of free format radio. There are no playlists. Our DJs are not automatons playing a dictated set list – they are experts and they support local artists more than any other station I’ve known. Trust me after 20 years of working in the music industry I know commercial and non-commercial radio like the back of my hand and there are only a small handful that are even remotely like WMSE. I am so incredibly proud to be a part of such an incredible station. WMSE is the very fabric of what makes Milwaukee great.
MM- Do you have a favorite "on-air" anecdote?
SM-I tend to laugh like a teenage girl every time I interview someone – be it in-person or on the phone.
MM-Frontier Radio really knows how to give back. What are some of the many ways WMSE is a part of the Milwaukee community? And why is it important that the community supports back?
SM-We are constantly trying to figure out how to become even more a part of the Milwaukee community. Between festivals – like the most recent event, The Brewtown Rumble, to neighborhood events like the Bay View Bash, to show sponsorships including Summerfest, I feel like we are everywhere. But do you know what’s even cooler ? Walking around an event and seeing the Guitar Smasher t-shirt, the meatball logo and every other WMSE logo all over the place. I consistently say we are a very inclusive club and our members are out and about every day. Check out their t-shirt, bumper sticker, baseball hat – it’s WMSE and we are everywhere. We are community powered and without our listeners support we would not exist. That is why we need the community support – to keep your favorite DJs on air.
MM- We will be seeing and hearing many WMSE DJs at the Maker Market tent! What different DJ styles will be represented this summer?
SM- Folks coming out to the Maker Market are in for a great treat. On June 7th – DJs Faux Eyes and Buzz from Buzz’s Garage will be handling the wheels of steel. DFaux Eyes will bring you the best mix of old and new, while Buzz will rev it up with some key garage and punk hits. Other DJs taking part include: Jazz DJ Dr. Sushi, Blues Drive’s Sonia, Chris Twinning, and Marty from Tuesday’s with Marty. They will all provide the perfect soundtrack to your Sunday Maker Market experience.
MM- What are some of your Sunday jams? What are you excited to play?
SM- My Sunday jams are usually a big dose of Dewey Gill’s Big Band Show. I am excited to play the next Milwaukee release – be it the Grovellers or Midnight Reruns – both I am told have new releases.
MM-What is currently inspiring you? Music? Blogs? IG accounts? Artist? TV?
SM-The Milwaukee Music scene constantly inspires me. I want to shout to the world how amazing the scene is. Now if those Midnight Reruns kids would just come to the station to play some of their new record I would be a very happy person!
Hear all of the amazing music and meet your favorite WMSE DJ while checking out a brand new line-up of makers each month! Maker Market takes place in the parking lot of Colectivo the first Sunday of every month. Rain or Shine. Jazz or Alternative. It is always something home grown and original. For more information on Sid and WMSE check out http://www.wmse.org/