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Milwaukee Talks: Sandy Maxx

Sandy Maxx, the host of 99 WMYX's mid-day radio show, traveled a long and winding road to return to Milwaukee after she graduated from college. In fact, this self-described radio junkie has worked in many formats, from '80s to oldies, from college to rock, in three cities across the country.

She has a great knack for identifying with her listeners, mostly because she remembers when she was that kid calling into her favorite DJs. And if working in radio isn't enough, Maxx keeps herself busy as a PA announcer for Marquette and a Game Day host for the Brewers. She also dabbles in Internet radio and the occasional voice work.

It's no wonder then that we were drinking coffee when we recently sat down and talked to Maxx about how she got here, where she's been, and how she wound up singing backup on a country-punk album. Enjoy this latest edition of Milwaukee Talks.

OMC: You've taken a rather circuitous route to get to Milwaukee, haven't you?

SM: Well, sort of. I grew up in Louisville, but came to college here at Marquette. I knew I wanted to do radio, so I got involved in the student station immediately. As many people in Milwaukee have done, I did a tour of duty at WQFM, if you remember that. I started out as a promotional intern, and within a month there, I was on air during the weekends. It was the AC/DC, Slaughter years.

OMC: Were you listening to that kind of music back then?

SM: Oh, God, no. Because I was also working at a college station, I was listening to Love and Rockets. Every Saturday and Sunday for my junior and senior years, I was on the air, which was great. Once you spend every weekend in a tiny room and figure that's what it takes to be on the radio, I knew what it took to get a job in the field. After college, I got hired in Atlanta as a promotions assistant for an oldies station. It was a ton of fun and a great city to be in. I did that for about three years. I figured I would work through the Olympics and then go back to Chicago and say, "How do you like me now?"

OMC: Why Chicago?

SM: I always wanted to work at XRT in Chicago. It is one of the most legendary stations in the country. It had the coolest jocks who knew everything about music. I got the job way ahead of schedule. I was the promotions director for five years. I worked really, really hard there doing some great promotions. It was like being a party hostess for my listeners. It was very time-consuming, and I got a little burned out. But radio gets in your blood. It's strange, I can't imagine being out of radio.

OMC: How did you get to Milwaukee?

SM: I fell in love. My boyfriend was here. I thought, this is the old college town. Do I really want to be here? I've been there, done that. I was working in Chicago doing the '80s channel there, which was another dream come true. But that station had changed formats, and I had no future there. I was hired at the Zone, which was the competing '80s station. Then I was a project manager for Jellyvision, the software company that did "You Don't Know Jack." It was one of the best experiences ever, but I was still doing radio as a weekender in Kenosha. Radio was in my blood; my father did radio news when I was a child. But I got laid off at Jellyvision, and I was in love, so moving to Milwaukee meant I would see him more often. And I had no job there, and I had no job here, so what's the difference?

OMC: Yeah, it's probably easier to be unemployed in Milwaukee than in Chicago.

SM: It actually really is. So I moved here, and I was unemployed for about a month before I got a job at WKLH working weekends. This was in 2001. I was the go-to girl. I worked overnights. I quarterbacked the morning show if Dave Luczak was out. I did traffic reports for Dave and Carole. I filled in for anyone who couldn't make it. And I totally loved it. It was so flattering. I was at the Mix doing nights, then got promoted to mid-days just in time to enjoy nights off for Summerfest.

OMC: Why is your job fun?

SM: Because I'm talking to people a whole lot like me. Everyone who calls in is having fun, and they're coming to me for information. If someone who's 20-something or 30-something is taking the time to call in, that's pretty significant.

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