Laura Brown: We’ll start with the position that pops up when I googled you: the WESU Public Relations Director. How did you get that job?
Andrea Silenzi: Last year I was the Editor-in-Chief of WESU Magazine, and that led to this position—brand new this year—the WESU Public Relations Director. Basically I write press releases for station events, oversee all outgoing publications and help DJs to promote their shows on campus.
Justin Holzwarth: So you’re no longer head of the WESU Magazine?
A: No I am; I do both. The next issue comes out next week. Probably Thursday.
L: What’s in the magazine? What does it do in conjunction with the station?
A: The magazine strives to take what the radio station does on radio and put it out into print, so it’s a freeform style. When you turn on the radio, you can hear anything, you can hear Commander Aleon talking about his space religion, or you can hear Jim and Rosemary talking about natural living, or you can hear really cool indie rock. We try to make that happen on every page of the magazine.
L: I’ve heard your radio show, but I have to say that the first time I heard it I had no idea what was going on.
A: I get that a lot. It’s an Old Time Radio show where I feature plays from the 1930s through 1950s, so dramas, mysteries, comedies, westerns, sci-fi, you know, Flash Gordon, the Lone Ranger, kind of everything. I’ve been doing it for three years now, so pretty long-running, I get letters from prisoners and old men.
L: Would you elaborate on that?
A: I started receiving jail mail from a guy named D.J., ironically, but it’s OK: he told me three different times in the last letter that he’s not stalking me. He doesn’t have any illusions that he’s going to get with me.
J: Hmm, the fact that he had to say that doesn’t bode well, but where do you get these radio shows?
A: Because of the copyright law changes in the ’70s, a lot of it is available on the internet. Radiolovers.com or otrcat.com are good sources.
L: How did you become interested in this?
A: I spent a lot of time listening to the radio late at night as a kid, and that tended to be Star Trek or sex talk radio, and I always wished that I could hear Old Time Radio stuff. I always wanted something interesting to listen to late at night, and that was the inspiration for Andrea’s Antique Radio Show. It’s now an afternoon show after an oldies show, but it keeps the old-time excitement.
L: Will your show continue after you leave?
A: No, the shows don’t work like that. I’ve had many requests to keep it going. I want to open up that time for a new show.
L: Does your prisoner know that you’re going to be leaving?
A: No. I’m not writing back to him. It was a hard decision, but I think he just wants some one to listen to him.
J: When is your show on this semester?
A: Every Saturday from 1-2 p.m. WESU Middletown. You can even listen online: www.wesufm.org.
L: I heard that your thesis involves an old German radio show?
A: Yes, I’m translating a German radio play from the 1950s, and I’m going to be adapting it into a modern production using student actors. Eventually, we will perform it this spring.
J: Are you a German Studies major?
A: Yes, and also College of Letters. I studied abroad in Regensburg, Germany. I lived in German Haus for two years, and I’m still involved in things they do. The German department is really special, because it’s small right now, and the professors definitely know you and care about you.
L: I know that you have some acting experience. Would you tell us about that?
A: I was in a Sight and Sound film this semester. You’ll see it in the screenings pretty soon. I play a sixth grade girl with a backpack and dirty hair.
J: The way you posed that question, I thought that she had done porn!
A: I did do a sex-talk radio show. It was called “Let’s Get It On with Barry and Eve.” It was pretty scandalous, as I remember it. I was Eve, and it was a character, but it was hard trying to separate the character from myself. Your ideas have to come from somewhere, so it tends to get really personal and awkward. But it was a full-out character. Eve was very flirtatious. Eve asked callers what they were wearing; she talked about directions for certain acts.
J: And you would never do this yourself.
J: You’re a second semester senior. Are you excited about graduation or nervous?
A: Realizing that I’m not registering for GRS is really shocking. I’ve always had an idea of where I was going to be the next year, and this time it’s a big question mark. My family moved every two years when I was growing up, so Wesleyan’s been a four-year home for me. I feel like a resident of Middletown, and to leave this city is kind of hard. The radio station has led to me having a lot of close relationships with DJs and community members here.
J: About what percentage of DJs are Middletown residents?
A: About half. The DJs who’ve been around the longest and those who feel the most invested in the radio station tend to be the community members. One is on the board of directors. After community members being kicked off the board when the NPR switch happened, this is our first year having a community member back on the board, which is really exciting.
L: What has been the response to NPR?
A: We recently did our pledge drive and a lot of surveys said, “I listen to NPR, and I enjoy NPR programming,” which was good to know. It’s good to know we’re putting something out that people enjoy listening to. But the reality of having NPR is that it hasn’t helped us support the station financially in the same way.