WYCE Programmer Hall of Fame: Jules / Julie Swanson

posted by Matt Jarrells on 06/08/2018

I knew about non-commercial radio from listening to WIDR while attending WMU. My break from the stresses of being a stay-at-home mom (two toddlers at the time) was to listen to WYCE. When Lee Ferraro announced a programmer class, I signed up that day. I was in that class with Jeff Van Kuiken AKA Dick Destiny, so this award is very sentimental to me.

My goal was to move the audience along with me on a joyous, rhythm filled, exploratory adventure. I had a skeleton show picked out but filled it with seat of my pants choices as the mood hit. It made the evening develop and I felt like an artist not knowing what the final project look like until it was over.  I would listen to the end of a track that was on deck to see what would work next; I looked like a crazed woman running back and forth (thankfully I started in the 6 to 9 slot so I was usually alone) but it was worth it to get a killer segue. How do you not have variety if you play Folk, Blues, Jazz, Rock and World beat? Heck, we even had a New Age / Acoustic sub-genre in the mid-90s.

It's been awhile since I've programmed a show, but I'd say getting out of my comfort zone was a challenge; playing what I thought the audience might like rather than my mixture took some effort. Alt-country / Americana and Jazz where my least favorite genres.

Some threads of continuity are consistent eclectic (not weird!) music and messages that support and drive the nonprofit sector. I really believe WYCE is one of the reasons this town is so awesome. We had our hands involved from the beginning in an underground art world and non-profit community that is now blooming rampantly.

My legacy at WYCE is beyond the studio. After a year as a volunteer programmer, I proposed that I might produce a concert series of WYCE artists. With support and help from Lee Ferraro and Tom Bland I booked five bands in the spring of 1992 at the ladies literary club (seats 450). After a successful debut, the WYCE board of directors created and offered me a fund development position (it pays to volunteer). I produced more than 45 concerts over the next five years including the likes of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Ani DiFranco, Richie Havens, Sarah McLachlan. Lots of small businesses helped out with financing the shows as well as providing meals (Dan VerHill- Jim Powell- Greg Gilmore). It was a veritable lovefest. We had a fall and spring series and then some standalone shows like Angelique Kidjo and the Roches as well as a few “Hoo-Doo Bashes” at funky Westside halls and the Masonic Temple. Fundraising also included on air auctions, Radio Restaurant and innumerable fund drives. I felt like I lived at the station during fun drives. I remember Phil Tower announcing to Cat Black and me that he had scheduled a haircut during the drive and we both screamed at him. Easy, girl!

I'm so thankful that WYCE took a gamble on letting me raise funds for the station mainly through concerts. I had to take the plunge and just go for it, as I had never booked a concert before. I grew and developed beyond measure during my time at WYCE. I'd like to thank my husband, Jim, and my kids, Erica and Nick, who gave me their support and shared me with this crazy radio station. I am forever grateful.

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