As The Current celebrates 15 years on the air and we wrap up our winter member drive (join now!), Minnesota Public Radio’s Michael Popham is asking the hosts who’ve been with us since the beginning about their history at The Current and in radio. Today: Mary Lucia.
Michael Popham: Hey, Looch! Where did you grow up, and what were the radio stations you listened to as a kid?
Mary Lucia: I grew up in South Minneapolis. The radio I listened to was my pop’s favorite station, KLBB, which was always on in our house. Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald.
Who were your favorite announcers?
Come on, who really cares who the announcer is? 😳 I jest.
What was the first record you bought, and the first concert you went to?
First record bought was Billy Joel’s Glass Houses. Still love it. First concert, Aerosmith. Still love them. No shame.
I’ve heard Rev 105 was your first radio gig, which would have been an awesome place to start. How did that come about?
I was living in NYC attending NYU when I had heard that a cool First Ave DJ was starting a new music station. It intrigued me enough to cold-call Kevin Cole; we ended up talking for over an hour. He invited me to interview, having no radio experience. I felt like I had nothing to lose. I made a wildly unprofessional demo that I felt was mildly entertaining. He took a chance on me, which I will always be thankful for. I wish everyone could have a kindred renegade spirit root for them and hire on a gut-check more than experience.
You studied theater when you were young. What steered you away from that path?
That was my passion and what brought me to NYC. However, I found myself more interested in attending punk rock shows with my fake ID than studying Stanislavski. I’ve never stopped acting — I have a tiny role in Phil Harder’s new film Tuscaloosa.
When did you first hear about the new station that was to become The Current?
I had worked with Steve Nelson at a couple stations. I had probably just gotten canned at another station. I immediately messaged him to let him know I wasn’t drinking Scope under a bridge and that I was very interested.
What was your first impression?
Public radio was a foreign entity to me. I only knew Chris Roberts, who was an amazing supporter of local music. I was incredibly curious to be a part of a new music station from the ground up.
How did you prep for the new job?
For months I began making demo shows for a station that I could only imagine listeners were hungry to hear.
As someone who was there at the beginning, what were The Current’s early days like?
This always felt like an experiment in what a radio station could be if given the freedom. It was very DIY. We were ripping our own CDs from home for weeks; there wasn’t a traditional designated space for The Current, so many of us sat at a ledge shoulder to shoulder.
Looking back, are you surprised The Current has lasted as long as it has?
My honest answer is yes. I’ve never associated stability or longevity in a radio job. However, the content the station was providing listeners felt like endless possibilities with long-term growth potential.
Are fans of The Current different from fans of other stations? If so, how?
100%. Music freaks rather than casual dial flippers will always be passionate and outspoken. Our listeners have wide musical taste just like all of us. They will always want something different, which drives me every day.
What’s the current animal lineup at home?
Two rock star pugs, Lefty and Mr. Cheswick. The coolest cats, Stax and Muse.
What book are you currently reading?
A lot of people around here are musicians. Do you play an instrument?
Do you have any special skills or abilities that would come in handy during an emergency?
I can talk to anyone.