The morning show on 99.1FM WMYX could best be called a mash-up of old and new. Not that Kidd O'Shea is a rookie -- he's worked across Milwaukee's FM dial for several years. But his co-host, Jane Matenaer, is a 23-year veteran of the station and has seen nine partners come and go during her tenure.
This current team has been on the air for two years. Flanked by producer Tony Lorino, who joined the crew last year, they're energetic, full of chemistry and just a little sarcastic. But most importantly, each has a genuine appreciation for Milwaukee and how it fits into their careers.
We recently caught up with the "Mix" morning show to talk about their radio alter egos, getting starstruck during interviews and what it takes to work in a city that they love.
OMC: Kidd, you've worked elsewhere in Milwaukee radio. Jane, you've been with the station for a long time. How did this show come together?
O'Shea: I fell into the job, because I was working at WKTI. The Mix hired me to do afternoons, and I did that for a year. They had blown up "Dan and Jane in the Mornings" which had been on the air for 12 years. They brought in another co-host that didn't work out. I fell into it, because I wasn't hired to be on the morning show. The interesting part is that when I was in high school, I would drive around listening to Dan (Weber) and Jane on the way to school. I would make fake tapes in my bedroom, and make the people who were driving me to school put the tape in.
OMC: Jane, do you know this story?
Jane Matenaer: Yes.
KO: Even before that, I met Jane at an appearance and gave her one of the tapes.
JM: He asked me to critique it, which I did. I remember it very well. I told him he needed to read the paper, to read out loud every day. To be prepared to start somewhere small. I suggested he go into neurosurgery instead.
KO: Ten years later, we wound up working together. Sometimes it's kind of weird.
JM: I've been here for 23 years. Kidd is my ninth partner. Some lasted for three months, some lasted for three years. Dan lasted the longest, for 12 years. I've gotten pretty flexible about whoever I was going to work with. I think Kidd's youth is a big advantage, and so is his perspective about the business. There's an excitement and less jaded perspective working with both of these guys.
OMC: Tony, you're the producer. How did you get here?
Lorino: I, too, grew up here. I really wanted to work in TV news. The first summer coming back from college, none of the stations would hire you until you were a junior. I got an internship at WKTI, and that's where Kidd and I became friends. He's a year older than me. We kept in contact while I was going to school in Iowa. I took my first job in North Dakota, and had an opportunity to move back here. I had feelers out, then Kidd called and said he was looking for a producer. The timing was meant to be.
KO: I had wanted him for a long time, as much as he drives me crazy. We had been on for a year, and it was time to take this to the next level. And Tony was there.
OMC: How long has this nucleus been in place?
KO: Last October for this group. We're two years into "Jane and Kidd."
OMC: Jane, you've got to be one of the more veteran people in Milwaukee morning radio.
JM: I'm old, Andy.
OMC: Not old ... veteran. How has morning radio in Milwaukee, and your job specifically, evolved over time?
JM: Certainly, we were a much softer radio station. More Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond. It's gone through so many lives, because we've been purchased by a number of different companies since we've been here, and gone through different general managers and program directors. I like the tempo now, but it's just my personal taste. Not that it makes that much of a difference; I could work anywhere.
OMC: What kind of music do you listen to?
JM: I listen to the blues.
TL: I listen to us a lot and our sister stations.
JM: You're answering like such a program director.
TL: OK, I love '70s funk. That would be fun to program.
KO: A friend was listening to my iPod and said I have the most bizarre taste in music. I love old music, '60s and '70s pop, Beatles and stuff like that.
OMC: If there's a song you really like, can you put it on?
KO: No. At night I could get away with crap like that.
JM: It's very heavily researched nowadays. But now everything is computer generated. Morning radio has gotten a little looser as far as content and the ability to push the envelope.
OMC: Can you get away with more now?
JM: Yes and no. We had the whole Janet Jackson nipple exposure incident with the FCC, but I have never been that "blue" anyway.
OMC: How about you guys? Do you censor yourselves?
KO: I have a dirty mouth, and I'm surprised I don't say more bad stuff on the air.
OMC: Tony, how do you find guests? What are your roles as producer?
TL: That's a lot of what I do. It's a lot of planning, looking at articles and weird little studies. We get contacted by an awful lot of people, 99.1 percent of which are not going to get on the air. That's not their fault, but there are a lot of PR agencies pushing agendas. The nice thing is that I'm also the public affairs director for our building, so I'm a funnel for all that stuff. We have some guest booking services that are national that we work with. It's also a matter of enterprising. Recently, we were talking to Fred Savage from "The Wonder Years." He said that his first TV spot was in Milwaukee for Brookfield Square in the '80s. I went to our sales department and traced it back and found the demo and put it on YouTube.
OMC: Do you get star struck when talking to any of your guests?
JM: The most star struck I have ever been was with Tom Brokaw and Valerie Harper. I've never been that nervous. I watched her on "Mary Tyler Moore," and she was my hero. I was giddy, and it was embarrassing.
KO: After you interview enough celebrities, you realize how much they're just like everybody, and they prefer to be treated just like everybody else.
OMC: How have new technologies and the Internet changed your job?
JM: We steal from everyone. The Web is at your fingertips. I still use the papers, but the Web has made it so much faster and easier.
KO: I don't read a paper anymore, I read it all online. We'll be in the middle of a conversation, and Jane will mention someone during "The Buzz." I can "Google Image" them as we're talking on the air. It's amazing.
OMC: Kidd, you sound a little different on the air than you do in person. Would you say you have a "radio voice?"
KO: I probably "jock it up" a little.
JM: That's the theater of it.
KO: There's processing behind our voices. If anybody, I get a little "DJ-ish" sometimes.
OMC: Let me phrase it a different way. Do you have an alter ego on the air? Are you the same people on the air as you are in real life, or are there versions of you that people hear?
JM: Certainly it's a version of me, not that it's false. There are maybe some opinions of my own that are not widely popular, that I keep to myself. And it's still showbiz.
KO: People think I'm always upbeat, fun and ready to go. And I'm not. I love lying on the couch, not talking to anyone and staying in on a Friday night watching CNN. Kidd O'Shea is a character I play on the radio. But he's very much who I am. For example, I have this obsession with vinegar. I clean with it, and we talk about it all the time. Do we play it up a little on the air? I use it all the time, but we make it bigger than it is.
JM: And he's "Type A" Tony. You are a little anal retentive, but you amplify that, which is hopefully where the comedy comes in.
TL: I've always been organized, but if you look at my desk, it's a mess.
KO: We meet people who think they know us. They do, but not completely.
OMC: Why do each of you stay in Milwaukee? What do you like about it here?
JM: It's home. My family is here. I have had 30-year friendships. I had to opportunity to go to Chicago a few years ago. The pay would've been considerably less. I already own my own house here. Why would I sell my house and move down there and live in a crummy apartment just so I could say I live in Chicago?
TL: I've fought my way back here. Jane and Kidd have had the privilege of working in their hometown for so long, and I'm so envious of that. When you go away to college and you go to your first job in the middle of nowhere, it's like, "Oh my God, am I ever gonna get back to civilization?" It's good to experience different things, but I had an opportunity that was a step up in market size and was a new challenge. I'm just thrilled to be here.
KO: There are people in radio and TV who work their entire lives to get back to their hometown. To start here and stay here, it's awesome. I take it for granted every day that my entire family is here. If I ever left, it would be weird. But anywhere you go, radio is the same. The people doing radio in Chicago aren't any better than the people in Milwaukee. If you don't have the dream to be the next Larry King, and you can do it in your own hometown, why not do it in a place that you love? And Milwaukee is a city that you don't ever have to leave. Milwaukee's not too big that you have to get out, or too small, either. It's just a good, manageable city that has everything to offer.
JM: It comes down to quality of life and what you want.
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.