An evening behind-the-scenes with WYSO

Have you ever wondered what it really takes to pull off a radio show?

We wanted to see for ourselves, so we recently took a field trip to WYSO-FM (91.3) to go behind the scenes with Juliet Fromholt on her radio show “Kaleidoscope.” The show airs Wednesday nights and features live musical guests.

7 p.m.: When we arrived, Fromholt was already in the performance studio setting up and prepping musical guests The Great Wide Open. The band is from South Vienna and plays roots-music. They were celebrating the release of a new album with an on-air performance.

“I’m usually already at WYSO all day on Wednesdays because of my other duties here at the station,” says Fromholt, who has been on staff as deputy operations director, webmaster and reporter since January 2009. “I generally start prepping for the show in my office at about 6:30 p.m., making sure any pre-recorded phone interviews are ready to go and listening to any last-minute new music submissions. My first guests of the evening usually arrive around 7:15 p.m. I try to be in the studio by 7, so as soon as they arrive, we can quickly get set up and have plenty of time to sound check before we go on the air.”

8:01 p.m. The show goes live! Live music was originally going to be an occasional feature but quickly became a weekly “Kaleidoscope” staple. Response from listeners and local acts remains so favorable there are often two or three performers on each program.

After spinning a set of music and an on-air break, Fromholt introduces the members of the band. The next 40 minutes include an interview, interspersed with live performances of four harmony-filled new songs from the bluegrass-inspired Americana act.

9 p.m. Fromholt turns her attention back to playing CDs, which includes new songs by Jenny Lewis, Caribou and Sylvan Esso and older material by the Afghan Whigs, Shrug and Arcade Fire. She takes a moment during the calm to go back through the stack of CDs played thus far and enters the information into the playlist software.

WHY NO AUTOMATION? While WYSO has the ability to be digitally automated, Fromholt, like most of the station’s on-air hosts, prefers using CDs. “I spend a lot of time listening to new music from local and national bands to decide what’s going to be played on the show, but each playlist is done in the moment during the live show,” she said.

9:30 p.m. Fromholt plays a pre-recorded interview with Charles Phoenix, who’s presenting his retro slideshow at Dayton Art Institute the following night. After that feature, the music continues with Fromholt hopping on the air occasionally for a station ID or to promo upcoming guests.

11:01 p.m. That’s a wrap! The station is on automation, taking a news feed from National Public Radio. Although she has an 8 a.m. meeting at WYSO the following morning, and worked late the previous evening, Fromholt isn’t done. She enters the last of the songs into the playlist program, shelves the evening’s CDs and puts away the recording gear in the performance studio.

11:30 p.m.: Time to go home.“The Moth Radio Hour” is playing on WYSO. Fromholt pops in a new CD and begins previewing potential material for next week’s program.

It seems a dedicated radio host’s work is never truly over.

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