I was a DJ at 89.1 WBSD FM

A long time ago (over 10 years ago) I used to work at a radio station. Yes, I was a Disc Jockey. I spun records over the airways for the listening pleasure of everyone (in Burlington). You may ask yourself, “Over 10 years ago? That would make him 17/18ish.” And you are correct, I was a rockstar at an early age.

WBSD call sign stands for (W) Burlington School District. The station was a High-School, non-commercial radio station. Run mainly by high-school students with a small amount of adult supervision. The format is Triple-A, which stands for “Adult Album Alternative.” This was the format that was pretty much run from the hours of 8am-5pm on weekdays. It featured artists from Bob Dylan to Garbage and Stereophonics to Led Zeppelin. During the hours the station didn’t run the format, students were allowed to host their own shows.

At the time, in order to have a person sit behind the mic and run the station, they needed to obtain their FCC license for broadcast. It was no easy task. We had to take classes in school and take the federally mandated test. Once you obtained your license to broadcast, you were allowed on the radio.

You never really started out with your own show, you first had to go through the ranks. It starts out with reviewing the endless stream of albums coming trough the mail from every sort of recording company. See which ones were the good tracks, catching the profanity and omitting the 80% of garbage bands.

From there, after you do your due time in the trenches, you’re allowed to host a block of time of the formatted bit during class. Yes, students were allowed to work up in the station during their Study Hall or Broadcasting class. It was a great break from the norm and the station was a heaven away from the mundane life of being in high-school.

Then you get your own show! You could choose from an existing show such as Heavy Metal, Country, Blues, Hippy Music or whatever. When I was 16, I was allowed to take over the “New Release Wednesday” show. It was one of the most popular and highest in ratings show the station had to offer. I was dumbfounded. Here I was, 16 years old, just got my driver’s license and now I have one of the more popular radio shows in the area. Simply rad. After about a half year doing that show, I took a hiatus. (Focus on Boy Scouts, work and my artwork.)

When I was 17, I returned to the radio station. I asked my broadcasting mentor, Terry Havel, if I could have my own show, if there was a timeslot available. He said yes, there was the Friday night, 5-8 slot. I took it! I mean, I wasn’t one of those boozers in high-school, what else am I going to do on a Friday night after school? Watch movies? This was an excellent opportunity for me to develop my own show. A show to kick off the weekend.

I created a techno show called Ignition Sequence Start. I created my own playlist based upon my (at the time, limited) knowledge of the dance/techno scene. Since I was getting big into design, I decided to create my own flyers (such as the one you see in this post) to promote my show. (Keep in mind, I was only 17 without any formal education in design.) And what was even better about the show, there was a dance/trance show right after mine. So the dance culture took over the airways on Friday nights, just as it should.

I had the most enjoyable time at the station. I had my friends come up to help DJ and provide witty banter over the air. I received free albums, tickets and almost interviewed the band Garbage.

I learned a great deal from working at the radio station. And since this post is long enough as it is, I’ll bullet point them out for you.

    • How the record industry works.
    • How to speak to the FCC.
    • What not to say on the radio and to the FCC.
    • Transmitter maintenance.
    • How to manage and operate a mixing board.
    • Creating promos.
    • How to be cool over the air.
    • Free CD’s can get a bit overwhelming.
    • Radio is cut-throat business.
    • Coat racks make the best door stops.
    • It gets addicting. (I still want to be on the radio.)
    • It can be extremely political.
    • You really have to be prepared for your show.
    • Top and bottoms of hours are for station identification.
    • If you want to be a jerk, you can bleed your signal onto other stations.
    • Ignition Sequence Start was one of my first successful branding attempts.
    • Promotion and advertising is the way to get noticed.
    • Working at a radio station in high school will not get you the ladies.
    • It doesn’t matter if you get the ladies, you work at a freaking radio station.

So there you have it, my 89.1 WBSD FM radio experience. It was truly an amazing, fun and learning experience. I would go back on the radio in a heartbeat if I had the opportunity.

And I would like to personally thank Terry Havel for turning me on to it and nurturing my passion for music along the way.

Professional History: Where I Came From

After creating the last video post, I realized there needs to be a bit more clarification as to where I actually came from, professionally. A bit of professional history, if you will.

University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. I worked all through college both in the design industry, as well as, the hospitality industry as a Bellman/Valet (You need to pay the bills somehow).

As my college career was wrapping up, I interned at Cramer Krasselt as a Brand Design Intern. I had the opportunity to work with some talented designers and marketers. I helped in the rebranding of massively large corporations and assisted in business development. Along with working at CK, I also had a Design Internship with Mindspike Design. A design firm with enormous potential and experience guiding my talent and nurturing my passion. Needless to say, internships sometimes come to an end. So, where did I go?

It’s always difficult to transition from college to the “real-world.” It was a tough market. Just when I thought it was getting too tough, a firm called NovoPrint, plucked me out from the void. I started as an entry level designer working on B2B publications for Chambers of Commerce throughout the nation. As time moved forward, I moved up the ladder. I started out as a “Designer,” then “Sr. Graphic Designer,” and ultimately “Art Director.” All this happened within a span of 4 years

As I moved up the ladder, so did my responsibilities. Not only was I in charge of the designs coming out of the design department, but I became responsible for the rebrand of the company; no easy task for one person to be sure. However, my experience as a Brand Design Intern a few years before; assisted me a great deal in this internal venture. Once I successfully rebranded the company, I became responsible for the marketing of the company along with the sales department.

Continue reading “Professional History: Where I Came From”

Applying a Political Speech to Technology: Agnew Knew

I was listening to a mix by Deadmau5 tonight and he included a speech by Vice President Spiro Agnew while in Houston, Texas on May 22, 1970. It’s a pretty profound speech about the times during the Vietnam War.

The speech has elements that hold true, in most instances, to what is happening today; and by that I mean technology. I figured I would post an edited version of the speech here. The speech really rings a bell for me every time I hear or read it.

Yes, I know it has political connotations to it and by all means I don’t really want to enter into a political discussion. However, if you sit back and read this excerpt and apply it to our contemporary lives with technology, it adds another meaning entirely; and that’s what I’m trying to get at.

“Sometimes it appears that we’re reaching a period when our senses and our minds will no longer respond to moderate stimulation. We seem to be reaching an age of the gross, persuasion through speeches and books is too often discarded for disruptive demonstrations aimed at bludgeoning the unconvinced into action. […] Subtlety is lost, and fine distinctions based on acute reasoning are carelessly ignored in a headlong jump to a predetermined conclusion. Life is visceral rather than intellectual. And the most visceral practitioners of life are those who characterize themselves as intellectuals. Truth is to them revealed rather than logically proved. And the principal infatuations of today revolve around the social sciences, those subjects which can accommodate any opinion, and about which the most reckless conjecture cannot be discredited. […] The student now goes to college to proclaim, rather than to learn. The lessons of the past are ignored and obliterated, and a contemporary antagonism known as “The Generation Gap.” […]”Vice President Spiro Agnew, Houston, Texas – May 22, 1970

Artwork: Discovering the Past

So, yes I have neglected this blog a bit in the last few days. Sorry, it wasn’t my intention at all. Been sort of busy lately.

One thing that I have been doing, is transferring all my Zip discs to my MacBook. I thought there would be a lot more information on them, but it turns out, all the information on the 15 Zips totals 600MB. Laughable today, but by the standards of yesteryear (yes, I said yesteryear) it was a ton of information.

Needless to say, it was a walk down memory lane. I saw projects from early on in college, typography experiments, party invitations and various other assignments. But, the gold medal find was my work from high school. There is a lot of junk in there, but I think some of the work shows progress. Or at least, a desire to learn more about the graphic arts. I guess, early on, I knew where I wanted my life to go…

Let me know what you think. (Keep in mind, these are from 1999 when I was only 18.)

The Inaugural

So I wish I could come up with something a bit more poignant and well thought out for my first post on ebreakdown, but I really can’t. I can tell you the events that have lead up to this blog, however.

The name ebreakdown came about 10 years ago now. It’s a shortened version of elegantbreakdown which is the moniker that I go by. The name was developed after listening to INXS’ Elegantly Wasted album. I was in love with that band and fell in love with the album name, but the word “wasted” is a bit risque. So, “breakdown” came about. This blog is simply the next and most recent step in the evolution of my online presence. I have had many blogs in the past and what I have realized is that it’s just too many to keep track of and consequently I failed at keeping track of them. I then decided to create one master blog for myself. One that I can feed most, if not all, of my satellite blogs, social sites, and other environments into. So, this is what we have here. The master blog. This is the place to go to find out what I’m up to.

I provide this sort of service to many of my clients. Basically a new media package. A funnel of information into one site that can be fed into satellite platforms. It only made sense to do it for myself, right? I had sometime today to make that happen. Believe me, it’s no easy task. There are way too many sites, some with two-way integration and others with one-way integration. It took a while, but I made it here.

So, what will you find here? You’ll find Twitter updates, RSS updates from my Google Reader, Last.fm updates of music that I’m listening to, photo posts, location posts and many other things. What sort of content am I going to post? Well, a whole myriad of things really. Items relating to design, art, branding, music, technology, movies; elements of my personal life including places I go, people I meet, things I get and you get the idea.

So, I guess that’s it for now. I now have to get some food and get ready for a party tonight. A sparkle party at that. (No, I don’t own anything that sparkles)

My name is Leif.