10 Questions with ... Michelle Rutkowski
June 25, 2013
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
1999-2003 - WONC/Naperville, IL on-air/News Director (just because I thought it'd be cool to have a title); 2002-2006 -- WKQX-WLUP/Chicago, IL part-time on-air/promotions/producer; and WLUM 2006-now.
1. What stands out the most from when you first started at the station?
My first day on the air at FM102/1 was also the first day of its existence, back in 2006. So it feels like we grew up together. We were both kind of awkward at first, but we've since managed to sort ourselves out a little better.
In seriousness, when we first started, it was a challenge to add credibility and consistency to the brand, since the direction of the station had changed quite a few times before it became FM102/1. But it's now a thriving, successful station that has carved its place into the local landscape. That's all thanks to the collective efforts of a pretty great group of people. I have dirt from this place under my fingernails, and that's a tremendous source of pride for me.
2. What do you love most about working at FM 102/1?
I laugh until the guts of my guts hurt, every single day. That, and no one yells at me when I celebrate "Sweatpants Tuesdays," which is a holiday I declare any time I don't feel like coming to work looking presentable.
3. How do you prep for your midday shift each day?
I prep around the clock. Life is funny and full of weird, wonderful things to observe. I take notes on my phone all the time about stuff that happens at the gym, or things I see at a show, whatever. I rely on our local news and entertainment websites for a lot of content. Trolling through Twitter is helpful too. I do the most prep for a segment I call the 'Daily Doom' which, in short, is today's reason we're all going to die. It's a sarcastic slant on the hyperactive 24-hour news cycle that is constantly drumming up things to be afraid of. I usually don't have to look too hard to find a topic...
4. What is one thing that may surprise people about FM 102/1?
We don't use a consultant. Jacent Jackson is a mad scientist who analyzes his own data and does all his own stunts. And I think he actually enjoys it....
5. Describe the weekly music meeting?
Loose and unstructured. I grab what I think are the best and most interesting songs of the week, Jacent brings in his own. Then we listen. Then we fight. Then we laugh.
6. What new artists are you most excited about right now?
Bastille -Pompeii. Had my eyeball on this band for a while, and as soon as I heard they got a deal with Capitol, we added them. They make great big beautiful songs.
Lorde -Royals is an undeniably awesome song. A middle-class anthem. Guessing it will be HUGE this summer.
[Editor's Note: Michelle made this bold prediction on Lorde three weeks ago.]
7. Give us the 411 on Summerfest?
Summerfest is a beast of a thing, unlike any other festival. 11 days of music on 11 different stages. For about $15 bucks you can meander around the grounds with an ear of roasted corn and see Billy Idol, Dropkick Murphys, Talib Kweli, Blues Traveler, Capital Cities, and Atlas Genius(That's all just on 6/27 ...) It's completely unpretentious, and doesn't take itself too seriously. We have our own stage, so we have a lot of fun collaborating with the 'Fest in trying to pick the biggest acts of the summer, all the way back in January when it's 2 degrees outside. It's a pile of work, but after 7 years of doing it; we have it down to pretty much a science now.
8. What is a typical day like for you?
Spill something, swear. Do my show from 9a-2p. knock something over, swear. Sit with Jacent to go over music from last week and see what worked and what didn't. Figure out what songs we might like to add. Fall down, swear. Decide what promotions we are going to be running the next week and help come up with an overall theme and write copy. Walk into a door, swear. Call/e-mail back music peeps and send out a playlist. Figure out on-air schedule and keep air staff up to date on music, promotions, and general housekeeping issues. Listen to music. Sneak in an aircheck with part-time staff. Bump head on corner of desk, swear.
9 How are you using Social Media to interact with your listeners?
The FM102/1 Facebook page is a natural extension of our station, filled with exclusive contests, music and lifestyle driven posts and cat memes(because no social media venture can be successful without cat memes, let's be real)
Similarly, I have a separate 'Michelle FM102/1' Facebook page that serves as an extension of my show. I use it expand on topics I talked about, touch on ones I didn't have time to, test out new tunes, post-concert videos, and toss up the occasional cat meme (See: afore-mentioned formula for social media success). It allows me to communicate and connect with listeners outside of that 9a-2p window and feels like a big, happy, lovey online commune.
10. What are you most passionate about?
I am nerdily proud of working at this radio station, and I want to give our listeners multiple reasons to be nerdily proud of listening to it.
What new band has blown you away the most with their live show?
In the past few weeks, Foals completely blew me away with their energy and intensity. Their ability to build suspense and then just explode into a musical frenzy impressed the hell out of me.
A few more weeks back, I loved seeing The Mowgli's. Just a happy, good vibe-filled, energetic show that ended up with like, a third of the audience onstage with the band. It was a blast.