Walt Dizzo's three eclectic hours
It's Thursday. It's 10 p.m. It's time to party. For the last couple years, volunteer KUWS DJ Walt Dizzo has been hammering out one of the most eclectic shows in the Twin Ports -- if not the most eclectic show in the Twin Ports. "My show is so biz...
It's Thursday. It's 10 p.m. It's time to party.
For the last couple years, volunteer KUWS DJ Walt Dizzo has been hammering out one of the most eclectic shows in the Twin Ports -- if not the most eclectic show in the Twin Ports.
"My show is so bizarre; it'll go from Feist to Manheat to Slayer to ... it's kind of neurotic and fast-paced, but you're guaranteed that if you listen to the show, you're going to hear something you like," said Dizzo, whose anything-goes playlists are available for viewing on his MySpace page. "I like it because it exposes audiences to music they haven't heard yet, which is my favorite thing to do.
"If I'm really pumped about an album, I try to get everyone to listen to it."
Dizzo moved up to the area in 2000 to attend UWS (from Webster, Wis., where he attended high school), but didn't start DJing until 2004.
"I listened to the radio and thought, 'Well, I can do that,'" he said with a laugh. "They weren't playing all the music I wanted to hear, so I went and said, 'I want to hear Nellie McKay' -- they weren't playing any Nellie McKay, and I didn't know where else to hear it. They were like, 'Well, do you want to work here?'
"And that's how I got the job."
Beyond McKay, the British-born singer/songwriter he absolutely adores (and isn't afraid to gush about on-air), Dizzo was upset KUWS wasn't utilizing its vast collection of LPs and CDs. KUWS's roots stretch back to WSSU, the Twin Ports' first stereo station, so there's more than 40 years of history there.
"There's such a huge library of music at KUWS that they just weren't playing," he said. "It's getting everybody on the same page playing cool stuff."
Giving credit where credit is due, Dizzo said a lot of his eclectic sensibilities come from his father's taste in music -- and the 3,000-plus LP collection he inherited from him.
"I grew up listening to the most bizarre music," Dizzo said.
The DJ's early musical diet consisted of '60s psychedelia, anything on Verve Forecast, all the Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart records and "old jazz stuff too."
"It's a pretty diverse interest I have; there's really not much I don't like," said Dizzo, whose show reflects this sentiment. "I really do mix every genre of music possible.
"The only thing I don't play is jazz, really, because there's three hours of it before my show."
Despite the advances of digital media, Dizzo feels there will always be a place for adventurous radio broadcasts.
"You know, the iPod's cool and stuff, but you'll never find anything new (just listening to your own collection)," he said.
If aural exploration isn't enough to keep listeners at bay, the Dizzo also lures them in with a number of in-studio interviews and performances.
"A little bit of everybody's come in and done the show, but Charlie (Parr) and Tony (Bennett) were great," Dizzo said after naming a laundry list of local artists who have graced the KUWS studios. (Don't worry if you missed any of these; Dizzo is in talks with Giljunko guitarist Patrick Nelson to release a best-of comp.) "There's still a couple ones I'm hoping to get. I really want Mark Lindquist to come and do a solo thing. I'd love to have Al Sparhawk come in too, but getting him to come in and sit down is a daunting task. I've been trying to do it, but it just hasn't worked out yet."
Maybe a kind endorsement of the show from Bennett himself will change Sparhawk's mind.
"It's nice to play live on his show because you can tell he's interested in hearing you," the Cars & Trucks frontman said, responding to an e-mail query. "He's not fiddling with alphabetizing jewel cases while you're singing, like some DJs might.
"He's actually interested in regional music just as much as he is in, you know, the new Pissed Jeans or Panda Bear albums."
The musician, whose former outfits include the Dames, Seed Math and Bloodstool, also listens to Dizzo's show when he's not performing on it.
"Walt's a good DJ because he's got the spirit of the old '70s FM DJs in him," he said. "He plays what he likes, which is something that's becoming rarer and rarer these days. There's no playlist, no suggestions from a higher-up as to how many times he needs to spin something.
"It's just him, his music collection and his encyclopedic knowledge of every era and genre of rock and pop."
As far as Dizzo's career in radio goes, he said Minneapolis' The Current or the New Jersey listener-supported titan WFMU would be ideal homes for him.
"I just don't want to work in corporate radio, because you don't get to choose what you want to play," Dizzo said, mentioning that a show like his existing outside of college radio in the Twin Ports is highly unlikely. "You have to play whatever they tell you to play, and I don't like that.
"I like being able to choose whatever I want."
NEWS TO USE
Walt Dizzo's radio show appears weekly on 91.3 KUWS FM's Thursday night "Dean's List" block from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Other Dean's List shows come from DJ X.L. (punk Mondays), DJ Jessica (singer/songwriter Tuesdays) and Rich (classic and contemporary rock Wednesdays). For more details, visit www.myspace.com/waltdizzo .