By Heather Leszczewicz Special to Published Feb 07, 2007 at 5:25 AM

In the studio, surrounded by sound boards, framed records, three signed guitars and a mankini, DJ Suzanne Sando silently sings along with the song playing in her headphones before introducing The Flaming Lips' newest.

It's Sunday night at WLUM FM 102.1 and Sando mans the airwaves and four phone lines for the independent and alternative radio station for five music-filled hours.

From 6 until 10 p.m., it's a music free for all, mixing songs from bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Muse, with Sando introducing a few here and there and a chance for people to win tickets to see three up-coming concerts.

When the clock strikes 10, it's time for "The Scene" -- an entire hour dedicated to local music acts.

"I love 'The Scene.' I find that when 10 o'clock rolls around I can't stay sitting," Sando says.

"The Scene" is the time when Milwaukee learns that there's plenty of good homegrown music, too. Sando thinks its great to give these local bands the chance to be on air and let other people enjoy their music.

Between on-air talking sessions, the music is up to room-shaking levels for her private jam sessions, as she sings along to Depeche Mode, The Killers and The Kooks, pausing only to answer listener phone calls or prep what she's going to say on air next.

"I love when I can turn up the music and not worry about the neighbors saying the music is too loud," she says.

Usually Sando spends her time in the studio alone on Sunday; although she doesn't always feel alone. On the wall behind her is a framed plaque featuring Green Day in a biblical, crucifixion scene. When there's an unexpected noise in the room, Sando turns around to look at it.

"I feel like he's watching me," she says in reference to lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong. "It's weird having him staring at me while he's being crucified."

While the music plays and the phones are silent, there's not too much for Sando to do besides rock out to the music. She says that there are times when she has to sit on her hands and wait for something to happen, but she also comes prepared.

"For this reason, and this reason only, I am glad that I do have a lot of downtime, because I get to read 'U2' by U2 -- the best book in the history of the world," she says.

At other times during the night, the calls are endless. Since it's a Sunday night, there aren't too many drunk dials.

"When I used to work overnights (midnight to 6 a.m.), that's when I got the prank calls and the people that were really mean, but I didn't really care, I thought it was funny. It kept me awake, it was entertaining," she says. "As much as I like not doing overnights, because I don't have to go to bed at 7, the phone calls were the best. Everyone was drunk and when you get a drunk dial at 7 p.m. on a Sunday night, you're kind of like 'Huh, what are they doing?'"

There are plenty of entertaining calls though.

"I had one guy call once and say, 'If I request something in the Chewbacca and Yoda voice would you put it on the air?' And I was like, 'Well I'll try, but I might not be able to do it,'" Sando says. "I didn't get to fit it in, but this guy sounded like he just turned on the movie and let these guys talk. It was the most bizarre thing I have ever heard. Any time someone wants to impersonate something, go for it."

This particular Sunday night, Sando gets incessant calls for My Chemical Romance's "Welcome to the Black Parade," which had already spun earlier in the night. One caller wanted to hear his favorite song before going to bed, and called back twice because he hadn't heard the song yet, he finished his bag of Cheetos and his eyes were starting to close.

Sando is sympathetic, "I know how it is to sit around and wait and wait and wait for a song." She tries to get as many listener requests in, but she has a schedule to follow to fill up those first five hours. She's able to accommodate more requests during "The Scene," since she plans it out herself.

At 10, she's already got a full playlist with locals like Northern Room, The Good Luck Joes and The New Loud. She's always up for hearing from local bands and their fans during the hour -- and a bit less up for hearing from the listener who called three times asking for a band from New Jersey.

At the end of the night, Sando's already planning on which songs to play the next week. She puts "The Scene's" playlist up on after every show for those that need to know what local band played what.

Sando feels at home in the studio. "I get to be my true self on air. If I could pick one thing to do the rest of my life it would be listen to music."

Heather Leszczewicz Special to

Originally from Des Plaines, Ill., Heather moved to Milwaukee to earn a B.A. in journalism from Marquette University. With a tongue-twisting last name like Leszczewicz, it's best to go into a career where people don't need to say your name often.

However, she's still sticking to some of her Illinoisan ways (she won't reform when it comes to things like pop, water fountain or ATM), though she's grown to enjoy her time in the Brew City.

Although her journalism career is still budding, Heather has had the chance for some once-in-a-lifetime interviews with celebrities like actor Vince Vaughn and actress Charlize Theron, director Cameron Crowe and singers Ben Kweller and Isaac Hanson of '90s brother boy band Hanson. 

Heather's a self-proclaimed workaholic but loves her entertainment. She's a real television and movie fanatic, book nerd, music junkie, coffee addict and pop culture aficionado.