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Libraries + Radio = LibRadio!

Lianne Ho

Did you know that the UW Libraries Media Center has its own radio show, LibRadio?  And that it's hosted by two iSchool students, Cecilia Jezek and Erin Gordon?  The show "airs" on UW's streaming radio station on Tuesdays from 11am to 1pm.  Tune your browser to and click "Listen" to hear them live!


To find out more about the radio show and its two awesome hosts, read on!

Silverfish: What are the origins of/story behind the radio show? Basically, how'd it get started?

Erin: I'll let Cecilia answer that one :)

Cecilia: LibRadio started as an idea between me and my boss--John Vallier, who is the head of Distributed Media Services and runs the Media Center. We both have a background in radio and were interested in getting involved in the college station here. John couldn't do it himself because it is a student-only station, so I ran with the idea.  I help do collection development at the media center so I was interested in exploring ways to generate interest in some of that was in our collection. We also have a great vinyl collection that is library-use-only so I was interested in ways of making that more accessible to people.

S: Cool! Well, that answers my next question of how you got involved with the show--you started it! So, Erin, what got you involved in the show?

E: Cecilia sent out an email about wanting a co-host, and I saw it and thought, "That would be pretty sweet -- I've wanted to be a radio DJ my whole life!" But I thought I would be too nervous to do it, so I didn't respond.  Then I asked her in class sort of offhandedly if she had found a co-host yet, and she said she hadn't and asked if I was I just decided to go for it.  And that was that.

C: I had done the show by myself all of last year and I wanted some fresh ideas to keep it interesting and fun. Also, pushing all the buttons by oneself in the studio can get awfully lonesome. I was sad when no one replied to my iChat email. Actually, a couple people replied that they thought it was a cool idea, but didnt have the time. I was psyched when Erin expressed interest.

S: And how long have you been co-hosting?

E: Since the beginning of winter quarter.

S: So what's a typical show like for you guys?  I have to confess now that I haven't been able to listen to your show yet...I've always been in class or at work. :(

C: I get there 10 minutes late. I show up with a bag of CDs that I've brought over from the media center. We pick music either randomly from the shelf or centered around a theme (via catalog searches). The first hour anything goes...the second hour is all local music. Erin and I tend to take turns picking songs.

E: Sometimes Cecilia and I go to the media center together to pick out stuff we're going to play. 

S: What have been some of your favorite themes?

E: We just did a hip-hop theme that I thought was really great.  

C: Sometimes we celebrate musicians’ birthdays.  One theme was hope.  Another one was an election special (all political songs).

E: We've also done some really silly ones.

C: Something about Square Root Day...

E: It's great when we think of a really random one because we can include all kinds of things like old speeches, spoken word stuff, old organ music, etc.

S: I'm really curious about what kind of stuff you guys played for Square Root Day...

C: We played The Roots and this local artist named Sam Squared, Rancid’s “Roots Radicals,” Green Day’s “Sassafras Roots”...

E: Anything that had “square” or “root” in the artist, song title, or album title, and we even discovered some new local music via MySpace.

(Editor’s note: View the whole playlist here)

C: There are other playlists on our MySpace page.

I should explain that it's also the MySpace page for Puget Sounds, which is the Media Center's latest project of collecting and archiving local music.  It's kind of a nebulous thing in that part of our Puget Sounds collection is only on MySpace via our band friends.  A lot of local musicians haven’t made a CD yet, so being our MySpace friend is a good supplement to the physical CD collection.

We also have a fan page on Facebook now. We're still trying to figure out uses for that. Last week I sent out an announcement the day before the show to remind people to tune in and told them what the theme would be.

E: And we could use it to ask for requests, since if people want to hear something, it's generally better if we know before Monday night so we can bring it with us from the media center.

S: Do you get a lot of requests? What kind of stuff do your listeners seem to be most interested in?

E: It comes in rashes.  They are interested in all kinds of stuff.  I do distinctly remember getting requests for David Byrne two weeks in a row, however.

C: Requests are always fun because it means people are tuned in. And usually we're able to find something to satisfy their request via MySpace or even YouTube.

S: How does that work? Playing stuff that's on MySpace or YouTube?

E: We have several inputs (computer, CD player, record player, etc) and for the YouTube or MySpace stuff, we use the computer input.

C: There are two computers in the studio that are hooked up to the board. Sometimes it's a little trickier than playing a CD that's cued up since web audio players all work a little differently.

E: It’s a perfect argument for cataloging...some things aren't always what they are labeled.

C: But we relish in the goofs, because that's what makes live radio more fun that shuffle on an iPod.

E: Speaking of goofs...  One day, we got a request from some of my mom's co-workers (also librarians) for Jimmy Buffett and for whatever reason we kept forgetting to play it or ran out of time or whatever.  So I finally tell them, "Make sure you listen today, we're really going to play Jimmy Buffett this time!"  But we forgot the CD again or something like that, so we decide to try to find it on MySpace.

C: (One week I confused Jimmy Buffett with Tom Petty and brought the wrong CD...)

E: So we find something that says Jimmy Buffett on it, and it’s that Pina Colada song that everyone seems to know.  So we play it, but then we get some random IM from some guy that's like, "That's not Jimmy Buffett." And this is AFTER we'd already gone on the air and said it was Jimmy Buffett.  So Cecilia and I are like, "Oh, crap!" but we'd heard that song before and we're certain it is at least a Jimmy Buffett song.  So we go back on the air and say something like, "Oops, that wasn't Jimmy Buffett, but it was someone else doing a cover of a Jimmy Buffett song." Then I go home that night and do some research. Turns out, it wasn't a Jimmy Buffett song and never was.  It was Rupert Holmes singing his own song, and it's called “Escape,” apparently.  So the moral of the story is you can't believe everything you read on the interwebs.

S:  Haha.  Did you mom's co-workers say anything about it?

E: No, but we finally really did play Jimmy Buffet the following week. I was pretty embarrassed. But it's really just funny, looking back on it.

S: Well, while we're still on the topic of requests, have you gotten any strange requests? Or what's some of the weirdest stuff you've found in the UW collection and played on the show?

E: We've gotten several requests for Trent Hill songs.  We also got a request for a song about both pirates AND alpacas. 

C: I really like our vinyl collection. It has lots of weird stuff and spoken word. I think playing long spoken word pieces is very, very funny. Noisy experimental music is funny, too.

S: Hee. Any favorites?

C: My favorite was Marshall McLuhan's The Medium is the Massage on vinyl. Very collage-y audio.  Another interesting record is this one.  It’s like, an hour of bird calls put out by the American Ornithologists.

At one point we played a femme fatale set (Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, Cat Power, etc.) followed by a special surprise at the end...Barbara Streisand.

S: Haha, nice. So what kind of feedback have you gotten from listeners? And do you guys have any way to get stats of who or how many people tune in?

E: The feedback I remember the most is some random guy who told us he had to stop listening because we were playing too much organ music.  And my parents say it’s cool.  :)

C: Most people think the show is a pretty cool idea, but I think only a few friends are regular listeners.  There's no easy way to get listener stats as far as I know.

S: Okay, just a couple more questions.  Is there anything you'd like to change or add to the show if you could?

C: It would be cool to have more time to pre-produce funny segments on libraries...but we're busy grad students and all. It would also be cool if we webcasted from the Media Center so that we would have the whole music collection at our fingertips instead of hauling selections over each week.

E: Yeah, definitely. And it would be cool to have guest appearances.

C: Yeah, guests would be a lot of fun…interviews with librarians and library school students.

S: You guys should see if you can interview Trent.

C: Oooh, we should TOTALLY have an in-studio with Trent.

E: And it would make it easier on us if we didn't have to abide by the FCC regulations.

C: Yes, there is the argument of Intellectual Freedom vs FCC. Technically, the FCC doesn’t regulate web radio in the same way it does with actual broadcast media, but the radio station is run that way to keep things simple, I guess.

S: That sounds like an issue we could talk about for a while, so perhaps we'll have to shelve that for another interview. could write about it for Silverfish.  ;)

Okay, Anne wanted me to ask you guys how your favorite pizza toppings relate to the kind of music you listen to, but if that's too convoluted, I would just like to know what your current favorite music is.

E: My favorite toppings are cheese & pineapple, but I like all kinds of music.

C: well, my favorite pizza topping is broccoli. I kind of like the concept of mixing "vegetables" with "junk food"...which is kind of representative of the music I like.  I like things that are fun...but smart. And smart...but fun.

E: Ooh, yeah.  What she said.

C: I really like experimental music. And local music. A lot. My favorite local band right now is The Pica Beats, which we just ordered for the Media Center. Favorite nonlocal band will always be the Pixies, I think, which we have at the media center, too.

E: My favorite local band right now is Common Market, which I got into in prep for our hip hop show.  I really can't pick a favorite favorite band because it's always changing. And I'm always getting geeked out by new stuff we play on the show

C: I really like the Boredoms, too, who we have a few albums by. It's fun to play screechy noise on the radio. Very un-user-friendly.

E: Oh, and we love Sir Mix-a-lot.

C: Me and Erin have decided that Sir Mix-a-lot’s “Posse on Broadway” is the unofficial theme song for the show.  Heh.

S: Have you given any thought to what's going to happen to the show after you two graduate?

C: It would be great if you could mention that LibRadio is currently looking for any iSchoolers who might be interested in taking over libradio in Fall ‘09, since Erin and I are both graduating.  If anyone’s interested, it could also be turned into a Directed Fieldwork under the supervision of Media Center head John Vallier.  E-mail me ( or him ( if interested. It's a great opportunity, especially if you're interested in music and creative library promotion ideas.

E: It's THE funnest thing I've done while at the iSchool.

S: Silverfish will definitely try and get the word out!

C: It would be super cool if it could live on.  I think it's great exposure for UW Libraries and its collections.

There you have it, folks!  Things to remember:

  1. Check out the LibRadio MySpace.
  2. Become a fan on Facebook.
  3. Contact Cecilia ( or John Vallier ( if you want to get involved.
  4. And tune in on Tuesdays from 11am-1pm at

April 15, 2009
Vol. XIII Issue 2

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