Milwaukee Talks: FM 102.1's Jacent Jackson
OMC: Can you explain the Milwaukee Radio Alliance?
JJ: WLUM is part of what I like to call a radio co-op called the Milwaukee Radio Alliance. In the '90s radio was deregulated and as a result large Wall Street-driven corporations swallowed stations up. Two owners who had individual ownership never sold out but instead moved in together and formed an LLC. WLUM is owned by Green Bay Packer legend Willie Davis. He owns an AM station called WMCS that serves the African American community. Our sister station is WLDB, which is owned by a family that owns the Scranton Times. Yep, THAT Scranton. They are hardscrabble there, I tell you.
OMC: How else is 102.1 different from other radio stations?
JJ: It is independently owned and run by a group of like-minded weirdoes who got their start doing non-commercial radio and are now basically doing a grown-up version of a college radio station. It's different in that everyone here uses their actual name on the air and doesn't pretend to be something they are not. It's different in that we make all of our own decisions in trying to reach the broadest market possible for our advertisers. All of that is pretty different. Look, it's not as if commercial radio is getting great press. We all feel like we're hanging out in a bomb shelter watching the Wall Street radio mess work itself out.
It's not different in that it is a commercial radio station. We're trusted here, but we are expected to be profitable and get ratings. So, thank you for supporting free, ad-supported commercial radio. You don't have to write a check to us, someone else will. The downside is you don't get a tote bag.
OMC: If you could play any five bands on air what bands would you play?
JJ: We actually talked about doing this. Once a week a DJ takes an hour and plays whatever and explains why they like it. I would like to play any and all Afghan Whigs, any and all Concrete Blonde, any and all by The Format, and any and all early '90s hip-hop, especially pass-the-mic jams like "The Symphony" by the Juice Crew. Speaking of Juice, I would like to karaoke over the ending to "The Rain" by Oran "Juice" Jones. Best kiss off song of all time
OMC: Where do you live? Are you married? Kids?
JJ: I live in Wauwatosa. Good folks, good schools and I don't have to try to be cool, which works out since I am not really that cool. Wauwatosa is not pretentious. It beats the hell out living in Wicker Park in Chicago. Wicker Park Chicago is a bunch of people from Des Moines who are trying too hard. I'm 34 or 35, depending on when this interview runs. I am happily married and have two little ones under 3 years old that I affectionately call Pineapple Sauce and Baby Hank.
OMC: What makes a good radio personality?
JJ: Someone who can find life interesting and isn't afraid to share it.
OMC: If you weren't on the radio, what would you be doing?
JJ: Working in advertising. I got into radio while getting an advertising degree at the University of Illinois. Got recruited by Phillip Morris in college, and passed to do a morning show in Lansing, Michigan. Thirteen years later it still feels like the right move.
OMC: Kramp or Adler?
JJ: How dare you! I think they're made for each other. I also think they are what's next in Milwaukee radio. I know old habits are hard to break, but try something new, won't you?
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