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Radio

Sue Dise of WCBN

01.20.14 | Comment?

Every Monday, from 9AM to Noon on WCBN 88.3 in Ann Arbor, Sue Dise (pronounced Dice) rocks the world that I hear. WCBN is a stellar independent, mostly free form radio station in Ann Arbor, Michigan. You’re bound to hear something interesting on the station any time you turn it on. You’re not guaranteed to like it necessarily, but I expect you’ll find it interesting. I sure do. I wrote a small excited piece about the history of another program on WCBN called Crush Collision on my old blog. Here are a few words:

Crush Collision “was begun in 1987 by Tom Simoyen as a primarily acid jazz program, but also included house 12 inches and remixes of pop bands. Footnote this to Brendan M. Gillen. Then, in the early 1990s, Brendan Gillen of Ectomorph took over the show and transformed it into more of a techno show, but also included lots of types of electronic music. Carlos Souffront began participating in the show in 1995. He has been doing it for a great number of years now. It’s fucking great.

“Other folks, indirectly involved with the show, but directly involved with WCBN include Erika Sherman, also of Ectomorph, and ethnomusicologist Ben Tausig, possibly known as Data General. You can check him here: Weird Vibrations. Erika started working at the station in 1993. The day after she arrived in Ann Arbor for college, she went over to the radio station and began working there immediately. She worked as the general manager of the radio station, program director, and gave disc jockey training classes. Erika, can you do that again? I’ll be in your class. She also hosted her own free form weekly radio shows, taking on 3 hour time slots at first, and then began to take other time slots so that she began playing 6 to 9 hour sets on the radio. Her time ended at WCBN around 2000, and she devoted all her shining musical brilliance to production, touring, the Interdimensional Transmissions record label, and super party planning, [and now DJing too!]”

Needless to say, WCBN holds court in my heart and between my ears. I have come to adore Sue Dise’s show, Area of Refuge. I think it is perfect. I don’t use that term lightly. It lasts for three hours. The music she selects is brazenly free form. One morning in November she played Cowboy Junkies, Calexico, Camper Van Chadbourne, and then Cab Calloway. It was glorious. The Camper Van Chadbourne song was “Symbols.” You can listen to the intro of it here, but unfortunately, that’s all you get. It’s a wonderful song that I tracked down on CD because it is not available to download. I used it as the inspiration for some mixes I made as a gift.

Here is her playlist from this morning:

11:54 AM Blood Orange Time Will Tell
11:54 AM Riccardo Tesi & Banditaliana Fulmine
11:50 AM Atropolis Adjust
11:47 AM Cibo Matto Working For Vacation
11:43 AM shirelles Mama Said
11:42 AM Big Maybelle So Good to My Baby
11:37 AM Waiphot Phetsuphan Love Life of a Singer
11:22 AM Omar Suleyman Nahy
11:20 AM Stooges Fun House
11:10 AM Nobunny Do the Stooge
11:09 AM Jarvis Cocker Angela
11:09 AM Jake Bugg There’s a Beast & We All Feed It
11:06 AM The Boss Hoss Hey Ya
10:57 AM E.E. Hack String Band Too Tight Rag
10:56 AM The Jam Happy Together
10:52 AM David Johansen Girls
10:48 AM Eydie Gorme Blame It On the Bossa Nova
10:44 AM Los Super Seven Compay Gato
10:40 AM Batida Bazuka
10:37 AM Big Youth Give Praises
10:25 AM Gesaffelstein Obsession
10:23 AM Detroit Grand Pubahs Sandwiches
10:16 AM Godley & Creme           Sandwiches of You
10:16 AM Heaven 17           We Live So Fast
10:06 AM MARRS           Pump Up the Volume
10:02 AM Anorak           Morning Light
9:55 AM Jookabox           Webbin’
9:55 AM Visage           Der Amboss
9:48 AM Herbie Hancock           Rain Dance
9:38 AM Steve Hillage           Searching For the Spark
9:34 AM Gong           Pot Head Pixies
9:30 AM Talking Heads           Tentative Decisions
9:24 AM The Residents           Smack Your LIps, Clap Your Teeth
9:19 AM American Gil           Burning Down the House
9:15 AM Prince Rama           Blade of Austerity
9:13 AM Opium Jukebox           War Pigs
9:09 AM Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan           Who Hata Rahe Hain Pardah

The top song was the last song she played and it descends backward in time. The playlist updates on the WCBN website in real time. The good people at WCBN are wonderful music sharers because they are so exquisitely on it when it comes to sharing playlists of nearly every show 24 hours a day.

Sue has excellent taste in music, you can be sure. And the way she selects music and programs her show, it’s clear she’s a giant nerd. I’m one too. It’s cool. She really likes Omar Souleyman. Which I think is just wonderful. She surprised me with this great Cibo Matto song this morning toward the end of her show, and then Blood Orange, who is also strange and great.

She has a distinct voice with a strong Michigan accent. It sounds great on the radio. She doesn’t say um, doesn’t stall, doesn’t get stuck, or at least I can’t tell cause she’s smooth as fuck. She talks just the right amount, not too much so that I get impatient for more music, and just enough so that I can know her on the radio. In November, she discussed the freezing weather, describing the sound of crunchy, frozen leaves being like bits of glass breaking under her feet. It’s a small thing, but I liked it. This morning, she announced ways to listen to the station and ways to get in touch with WCBN folks. She listed the website url and their name on AIM (which is adorable that they still use that at the station). Then she said, “Either way, we will save your life.” Perfect, succinct, and quite true.


The woman herself. Photo by Colin Howells.

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