WYCE Programmer Hall of Fame: Nanette O'Connell

posted by Matt Jarrells on 02/06/2017

2017 marks the 30th Anniversary of WYCE! In celebration of the hundreds of volunteer programmers who make it all possible, we are establishing the WYCE Programmer Hall of Fame. Join us at Jammies XVIII as we honor the first four inductees.

Nanette O'Connell:

I came to WYCE as a listener early on (late 80's) through my husband.   He is a house painter and listened to the radio a lot on construction jobs.  He came home and told me about it.  Len said, "You'll like it".  The radio was an important part of our lives growing up.  We enjoyed music as a family, (we listened to big band as well as pop music, operettas and broadway show tunes).  My first major purchase with babysitting money was a record player. I grew up near New York City so was exposed to a lot of local and national music on the radio and through school. 

It was a natural fit to listen to the radio here in Grand Rapids.  I remember listening to the radio while we were working on our house in Eastown and dancing to Van Morrison's Moondance.  The idea to start programming grew out of a desire to find something creative to do out side of my work.  I felt I needed something positive, fun and creative to balance out my professional life as a therapist.  I took the class in 1999. 

My philosophy is to play music that I enjoy and that causes me to lift up my head and take notice.  It is a somewhat visceral and emotional thing which is hard to describe.  Of course, there is an art to playing all the different categories of music.  I think you either have it or you don't, when it comes to picking out songs and making good transitions or segues between different artists and sounds.  My approach to the audience is collaborative as well as an attempt to entertain.  The audience sometimes knows better than I, what I should play next!  

My presentation is pretty straightforward, if I know something about the artist or band I will talk about it.  I don't think people are listening to the radio to hear me talk, they are listening for the music.  That is the one thing I have tried to be consistent with during my time at WYCE.

Having done this programming thing for 18 years there have been a lot of memorable moments.  The major one was, of course, September 11th.  I went on the air 2 days later, but I was struck by how well the programmers before me carried on and tried to restore confidence and hope, in a very dark time.  We were a consistent voice for the healing power of creativity and joy.  I was on the air around the time of Hurricane Katrina and was again struck by our ability as programmers to come together and do our best to be supportive of the folks in New Orleans, in any way we could. 

I am very honored to be nominated for this award.  I started volunteering to have fun and it has turned into much more than that. We all know we have something special and I am proud to support WYCE. 

comment & share