75th Anniversary Celebration Programming Updates

“75 Years of Socially Conscious Music”

Broadcast weekly throughout January, this program features listener and staff suggestions that reflect both socially conscious music and WESU’s 75 year old commitment to free form radio!

But the “75 Years of…” project will continue throughout 2014, and WESU wants your input!  Each month, we’ll have a new theme, and we want your suggestions on songs to include!

February will feature “75 Years of Lyrics Beyond the English Language”

We are looking for your favorite recordings whose lyrics are in a language other than English, regardless of genre.

Click here to submit your favorite non-English recordings!

March will feature “75 Years of Female Artists” in honor of Women’s History Month.

We want your suggestions for songs by your favorite female artists!

Click here to submit your favorite songs by female artists!  

Thanks and Happy New Year!

happy radioThanks to the many listeners, donors, and volunteers who came together to make our 9th Annual Winter Holiday Pledge Drive a Success! Your support continues to illustrate the importance of maintaining and safe guarding community radio that matters!

Employing our “Kinder Gentler”  approach to develop community support in a world ruled by professional public radio fundraising has proved challenging.  Ultimately, it worked – thanks to our amazing audience and supporters.

2014 will be a busy and fun year at WESU as we celebrate our 75 year legacy as one of the original student owned an operated radio stations in the country. Highlights include special music and public affairs programming to physical and virtual exhibits of WESU artifacts and audio.

We are also launching a capital campaign fueled by a series of live fundraising concerts and events reaching out to our various listening communities. This capital campaign aims to fund some necessary station upgrades from installing a back-up power system to keep us on air during power outages to replacing our 25 year old mixing boards.We are also hoping to use this opportunity to kick off a film project to document the history and significance of WESU.

2014 Will bring many opportunities for us to engage with our listening audience and stay in touch with our various stakeholders around the world as we explore the rich legacy that is WESU.

Again, many thanks to all of the good people who came together to make this year’s drive a success.

Here’s hoping that 2014 brings more peace, more health, more prosperity, and more community radio that matters, to all in need!

Happy New Year from WESU!

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P.S.
The end of 2013 brought the end of our annual winter pledge drive but we could still use a few more donations to sure things up and hit our mark. Please feel free to get started on your 2014 tax deduction with a donation at www.wesufm.org/pledge

 

 

 

There is no listener supported community radio without LISTENER SUPPORT

knit radioIn the nearly 10 years since WESU became a truly listener supported community radio station, we have never had to ask for donations this late into the calendar year. Sadly, donations for our annual winter pledge drive are down by roughly 25% from last year. We have seen less than 10 donations in the past 10 days and it is looking like we may not meet our goal.

On the other hand, 2013 was an amazing year for WESU, bringing our service to a larger audience than ever. We could easily exceed our fundraising goal if everyone reading this contributed as much as they could spare.

Our 9th Annual Winter pledge drive got hit by a perfect storm of sorts. First, the unusual alignment of the early winter holidays squeezed a critical week out of our student calendar. Luckily for us, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah will not converge for 70,000 years! It also appears that the rest of the public radio pledge drives (including our own partner, WSHU) were also in alignment, making support for WESU this late in the season a tough sell in today’s economy.

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Contribute to WESU’s 75th Anniversary Programming with “75 Years Of…”

For 75 years, WESU has provided a platform for the enjoyment of underground music and under-represented genres generally absent from commercial airwaves.

2014 will mark WESU’s 75th Anniversary, and we’ve got a metric boatload of events and special programming to celebrate!

One of the special programs will be an hourly, weekly show called “75 Years Of…”.  Each month “75 Years Of…” will have a singular theme, and we’ll air 75 songs relevant to that theme throughout the month.  Rather than air just our selections, we want YOU, our listeners and friends, to contribute to our playlist by helping us pick the songs!

To kick things off in January, we’ll be featuring “75 Years Of Socially Conscious Music”.  Socially Conscious Music includes protest music, songs that call attention to injustice and songs that rail against inequality.  Socially Conscious Music transcends genre boundaries; the call to action is what defines this music, not the arrangement or the instruments!

Again, we want your suggestions!  You can submit them through our handy-dandy form by clicking this here link!

WESU pledge drive kicks into gear with MGMT ticket giveaway!

That’s right!! Donate online to WESU’s Annual Pledge drive by midnight Monday 12/2 and automatically get entered to win a ticket to see MGMT live at The Oakdale in Wallingford, CT Friday 12/6/13. 4 Lucky winners will be randomly selected from all online donors Tuesday, 12/3. We will also give away one more pair of tickets on Homegrown with Rob DeRosa this Thursday, 12/05 between 5:05 and 6pm!!

Don’t miss this opportunity to win a ticket to see everyone’s favorite Wesleyan band gone wild, MGMT, and support the first radio station to EVER to spin their tunes and support their music. Click the donate now button to get started! btn2

 

 

 

FREE Concert Saturday, November 16th

Come out this Saturday, November 16th at 10PM for a FREE concert hosted by WESU featuring HARD NIPS, A Deer A Horse, and Novelty Daughter at Eclectic (located at 200 High Street on the Wesleyan Campus in Middletown, CT). This will certainly be a night you won’t want to miss!

Interview with Yamantaka//Sonic Titan

I caught one of Yamantaka//Sonic Titan’s CMJ sets this week at Fontana’s on Wednesday. I then sat down with the group’s two leaders Ruby Kato Attwood and Alaska B at Enid’s in Greenpoint on Thursday. I won’t spend too much time on an introduction since they have plenty to say in their interview, but they are definitely one of the most unique musical acts around and if you ever have a chance, you should see their live show (see the photos for visual evidence!).

IMG_1253I read that your new album was inspired by Journey to the West. Is that correct?

Alaska: I would say a lot of things in the band, including on the first album, were inspired by Journey to the West.

I recently saw the musical that was based on that.

Alaska: Oh, the Monkey with Damon Albarn.

Yeah. Did you see it?

Alaska: I’ve seen clips of it.

Ruby: Yeah, I’ve seen clips and stills.

It was pretty cool. Really cool acrobatics.

One of the other things I read was that you were particularly inspired by the two characters of the Monk and the Monkey. So one of you is the Monk and the other is the Monkey?

Ruby: Yes. Alaska is the Monkey. She always wears the Monkey makeup.

Alaska: It’s a stylized version of it.

Ruby: And then I’m always the Monk with the robes.

Alaska: It reflects the character where the Monkey is always action. And I’m playing the drums. And the Monk is always more about speech…

Ruby: And reflection and contemplation and non-action. They’re related to the sun and the moon in the same way. The sun’s this life-giving, chaotic, plasma fireball and the moon is its reflective light. But they are part of the same thing.

I was actually recently at a ceremony where my friend’s father became a monk. It was really interesting.

Alaska: What school?

Korean.

Alaska: Was it Theravada or Mahayana?

I actually don’t know that.

Alaska: Were they ringing bells or were they hitting gongs? That’s one way to tell the difference.

I don’t actually remember either of those things. It was a very simple ceremony.

Ruby: He just accepted the precepts?

Yeah. There was a lot of bowing.

Ruby: Yeah. He had to promise stuff. [Laughter]

So what about the monk lifestyle…

Ruby: I guess we approach those two characters from the position of storytelling. So rather than reflecting necessarily or not necessarily aspects of our true personality, we’re interested in presenting the two opposites and how they’re related through the characters on the stage. There’s aspects of these two opposites of action and reflection or acts of rationality and acts of impulsivity in everybody’s lives. And those poles contain existence. So we’re trying to express those in a more poetic way than something clinical or didactic.

Alaska: And I wouldn’t say that’s the entire basis…

Ruby: No because there are other characters. It’s like a mode.

Alaska: It was kind of a statement about being in America too. So in Journey to the West… I’ve actually been to the Grey Goose pagoda where the story starts, which was a pretty interesting experience for me years ago when I went to China. The characters go to India. And on the Silk Road they run into all the demons and so on because so many people would starve to death, get killed by avalanche, winds, you know, etc. that there’s the concept of there being so many demons. And they learn to get along to go to a strange place to bring back something that brings peace to where they come from. In the same concept, where we’re starting from in North America, it’s in a way going back there to get further here. It’s like going back home even though this is our home here, which is kind of the tongue-in-cheek irony of it all. It was also a statement about– I’m from Alberta. It’s a little bit like–I hate when people say this– it’s kind of like Texas in Canada. And I really hate that because I’ve been to Texas and it’s not really true. But it’s kind of true enough. So for people to foist these stereotypes that they have of people from Asia upon me, being from the most redneck place in Canada, it’s ridiculous because obviously I identify more with the prairies than I do with big, sculpted mountains.

Ruby: And then, as far as it being a starting point, there are all these myths that we came to from that story or in relation to that story also. Different myths about religious figures, leaders, people who go on voyages, expeditions, and just monkeys themselves. There are so many stories about monkeys because they are this animal that’s also sort of human. There are lots of different myths from all over the world about these animal-in-human characters.

IMG_1263So I know that you draw from a lot of things. You have Chinese and Japanese traditional mythology and you also have North American indigenous mythology.

Alaska: Yeah. We’ve had a total of three native members so far. Two of the members of our band– one is Iroquois. Our former second drummer– we used to have two drummers in the band, and he was Iroquois as well. And we’ve had Jonas, he’s a guest singer on “One.” He’s also Iroquois. And also our guitarist John is also part indigenous from the Southwest from the border with Mexico.

Ruby: Also Spanish. He has a very long, interesting, convoluted family tree. We’re really interested in personal experiences with culture and self-definition.

Alaska: But also, for us… I’m half Chinese, but I’m also part Mormon. I’m part Swedish, part Irish. I’ve got a very complex background that I also draw on for inspiration. We made a statement about being racialized because all of our influences are Chinese and Japanese and all our other influences are denied. I’ve been to Ireland. I have family from the Southwest in potato country. They still live on farms. And if I were to say that I have all this Irish nationalist influence– Celtic music is a big thing I grew up with– people would be like, “Well, you’re not Irish.” And I would be like, “Yeah, but how many Irish-Americans even listen to Celtic music or know a word of Gaelic.” And I grew up with Gaelic around me. So it’s like, “Fine. You want to paint me with a broad brush. I’ll paint myself with a broad brush.” It’s like, “Give me that brush.” So I think other artists, in particular white American artists can draw influence from anything. They can be like, “Oh. I watched a documentary on National Geographic about Africa and now I’m going to play Afrobeat because I saw a documentary.” And then for us, things that are actually deeply personal– we get told, “Oh, that’s not yours.” So there’s a different imbalance about how people can access different cultures.

Ruby: And in terms of cultural influences, I would say that we’re really influenced by certain art sub-cultures I would say almost even moreso than these ethnic references that we make. Punk music. Performance art. Experimental film. Animation. And drawing, painting. Those kinds of things that are cultural, but not necessarily bound by national identity. And that’s how we work as a multi-media collective, and that’s a huge part of our work as well.

Alaska: My dad was actually a progressive rock musician in the 70s, so that’s where a lot of the progressive rock influence comes from. But that’s something that people wouldn’t necessarily see as being part of my personal influence. People hear it in our music for sure, but you wouldn’t understand that that, for me, is a personal thing. I grew up with the prog records in the house.

Ruby: It’s a bit of a joke.

Alaska: It’s a bit of a tongue-in-cheek thing. I think somebody said once that our entry point is confusion. And I think that’s probably the smartest thing that anybody’s ever said because people want to box things up and instead we made the box really big and then we labeled it with a simple small label that doesn’t describe the box. So, once again, the entry point is confusion.

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In Your World and Your Community: A Talk with Daniel Pope on Public Affairs

One sunny Tuesday afternoon I sat down with the illustrious Daniel Pope (of The Turpentines fame) to talk about all of the public affairs programming that WESU Middletown has to offer. Daniel Pope is this year’s Public Affairs Director and has a lot to say about the shows that he oversees.

DJ Ritz and DJ SkullKid live on Middletown Youth Radio Project

DJ Ritz and DJ SkullKid live on Middletown Youth Radio Project

WESU: How are you today Daniel?

DP: I am wonderful. I just ate a giant cookie.

WESU: Sounds delicious. I wish I were eating one right now. So tell me, what’s your favorite public affairs show on WESU?

DP: Well, as far as the nationally syndicated public affairs shows go, I’m a big fan of Alternative Radio and Democracy Now. Alternative Radio allows you to get perspectives you don’t get from most of the media. Democracy Now gives solid news. I know it sounds boring, but it’s true! They are a very clear, good source of information. As far as local programming goes, I enjoy Middletown Youth Radio Project (MYRP).

WESU: I heard you listening to that the other day. It’s so funny!

DP:  I think it’s great that we’re getting local kids involved in radio and it’s especially good in that we foster connections between Wesleyan University and the Middletown community. I also love listening to kids. They say the darndest things!

WESU: Why do you think public affairs programming is important?

DP: It is a good source of information for what’s going on in the world and your community. WESU especially is a good source for public affairs broadcasting because they have local, national, and international public affairs information. Listening to public affairs programming can connect you to your community and can tell you something about where you fit in the world.

WESU: Sounds groovy. I know I will be tuning in.