10 Questions with ... Jeff Raspe
August 8, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
WRHU (1984-1988), WHTG (1988-2001), WBJB (2001-present)
1. How did you become interested in radio?
Not sure. As a child I remember sitting in front of the family stereo with painfully tight headphones on, turning the analog tuning dial on the receiver trying to hear radio stations from other parts of the country. Through high school I was one of those "music dork" guys who devoured new music info. If you so much as asked me a question about a band, I had a 90-minute mix tape ready for you the next day at school. Growing up in New Jersey and going to college on Long Island, there was a lot of bad music and a lot of bad radio. I used to like to think I was improving the musical tastes of my friends. Being on the radio made it a lot more convenient than making everyone I knew (and everyone I didn't know) a 90-minute mix tape!
2. Who were/are your mentors?
Jeff Kraus at WRHU, Hofstra University. Rich Robinson, who hired me at WHTG in 1988 and is again my PD at WBJB. TJ Bryan at WHTG, who gave me the go-ahead to start my specialty show "The Underground." My contemporaries at WRHU (circa 1884-1988). Mike Sauter, who I worked with at WHTG and was my first PD at WBJB. Matt Pinfield, who was a Sunday night part-timer at WHTG at the same time I was. And, my radio hero (though we've never met), Vin Scelsa.
3. Was it a difficult to make the transition from commercial to noncomm radio?
Not really. I guess the hard part is trying to not think in "commercial" terms.
4. What is your typical day like?
Listen to music, schedule music, book station concert events, coordinate the station's "Live At The Night" fund raising CDs, take music calls, do some production. Oh, and go on the air from 3-7p every day.
5. How has the station's sound evolved since you have been there?
It's definitely more "rock" than it used to be. We've also made a conscious effort to reflect the alternative radio legacy in our area (WHTG) by including a lot of classic WHTG artists/tracks and we probably lean in that direction more than most Triple A noncomms.
6. What are some of your biggest challenges as a noncomm station?
Money. Memberships. Never enough of either for us to ever stop "worrying."
7. What stations, if any, do you like to keep track of?
I don't go out of my way to "keep track of" any, but I like to see what my friends at other stations are playing.
8. Favorite artist you have met?
Wow, hard to say. I have met many of my all-time favorites thanks to this job. Garland Jeffreys, Ian Hunter, Bruce Springsteen, Suzanne Vega, Hothouse Flowers, They Might Be Giants, Robert Smith of The Cure, Roger McGuinn, Elvis Costello, Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze, Tony Levin, Midge Ure, Rob Dickinson of Catherine Wheel. But I guess you can't take the "specialty show guy" out of me, I still get the greatest thrill from discovering a new band or record, and turning other people on to them, just like I did in high school.
9. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully still working at WBJB -- worrying less about making money, and whether or not the government funding for public broadcasting will be eliminated.
10. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ...
... The Simpsons.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from work?
Going to concerts, usually in some small, dingy place; listening to music; record shopping; and sleeping.
Last non-industry job:
Beer manager in a wine shop
First record ever purchased:
Boston's and Foreigner's debut albums ... on 8-track!
Summer of 1982, Pier 84 NYC. Either Joe Jackson/Marshall Crenshaw or Elvis Costello/Talk Talk. I don't remember which was first.
Favorite band of all-time:
Impossible to say: Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, The Jam, REM, U2, Ian Hunter, The Cure, Billy Bragg, The Clash, Suzanne Vega, The Police, They Might Be Giants, Miracle Legion, Warren Zevon, The Smiths, Richard Thompson, Steely Dan, Echo & The Bunnymen, Peter Gabriel, Genesis, Graham Parker, Connells, Poi Dog Pondering, Psychedelic Furs, Ramones, Todd Rundgren, XTC, The Wonder Stuff, Squeeze, and I better include Bruce Springsteen! Like I said, impossible to say.