By Press Release Submitted to Published Jan 19, 2021 at 2:06 PM

88Nine Radio Milwaukee (WYMS-88.9FM) announced Tuesday the three 88Nine Amplifier mentors for the program’s inaugural year: Grammy-winning Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon; producer, mixer, composer and multi-instrumentalist Butch Vig of the band Garbage; and sound engineer Marcella Araica (Ms. Lago), who’s collaborated with Missy Elliot, Timbaland, Danja and others.

“I want to participate in this partnership because I've been lucky to have educators, friends, and colleagues sharing thoughts, wisdom, and realities of music-making with me over the decades,” Vernon said. “I want to give back to developing artists curious and eager to fortify their minds. Plus, I can always learn from anyone, so I'm looking forward to the whole experience.”

Milwaukee-area artists can apply to be a part of the free program through Feb. 12. Four musicians or bands will be selected to participate in the eight-month Amplifier session that begins in March. Selected artists will connect with mentors four times throughout the program.

In addition to eight months of mentorship and learning, program participants will also receive $10,000 grants to be used in consultation with 88Nine Amplifier to further the artists’ careers.

Each month of 88Nine Amplifier will focus on specific topics and skill sets musicians need to develop to be successful long-term, including management, production, collaboration and more. The month’s curriculum will be accompanied by master classes with national or local experts to share industry experience with participants. Confirmed experts include Grammy-nominated songwriter and producer Rico Love; CEO of Crown World Ent. Vincent Searcy; Latitia Taylor, head of digital marketing at Cinematic Music Group; and Carmen Esteves, CEO of Esteves Creative & Marketing.

Program applicants must:

  •     Be a solo artist or group creating original music. An “artist” is defined as someone who creates and/or performs original music of any genre – a songwriter, instrumentalist, vocalist, etc.
  •     Live within the seven-county Greater Milwaukee area (Milwaukee, Kenosha, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha Counties). If a group is applying, 50% of members must live within the seven counties.
  •     Be at least 18 years old.
  •     Be able to dedicate 20 hours per month to engage in the eight-month amplification program.
  •     Demonstrate a commitment to making a full-time career in music.

As announced in December, non-commercial Radio Milwaukee will operate 88Nine Amplifier in-house under the direction of Grammy-nominated producer Chad Roper with support from musician and educator Britney Freeman-Farr (B~Free).

“We are incredibly excited to launch this effort to further amplify the incredible work being done in Milwaukee’s music scene,” Chad Roper, 88Nine Amplifier program director, said. “We believe that our national mentors and master class instructors will add immense value to the program, allowing participants to learn from their years of experience and ready themselves for a long-term career in the music industry.”

88Nine Amplifier plans to hold free public workshops open to all Milwaukee-area artists throughout the year. The program also intends to use its website as a resource hub for musicians by creating takeaway materials from program master classes and mentor conversations.

Applications and details on the program, application requirements and selection process can be found at Industry experts will review the applications and narrow the pool. Three national experts from outside Milwaukee will make the final selections following one-on-one interviews and reviews of applicants.

To learn about future public workshops, which are held on topics of interest to musicians, sign up for the 88Nine Amplifier email list at or follow 88Nine Amplifier (@ampmke) on social media.