Don’t underestimate WORT

In Microtones, our newsletter-first column.

In Microtones, our newsletter-first column. 

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MICROTONES by Scott Gordon, editor

This weekend’s news that someone shot up community radio station WORT-FM, injuring a DJ in the process, has shaken up people from so many corners of the Madison community. I’m relieved that it wasn’t worse—a sad sign of the times. Madison police have said that it apparently wasn’t motivated by the Trump administration’s continual vicious stoking of anti-media sentiment.

But the reaction to the shooting says a lot about the reach and impact that WORT has. Always scrappy, always the underdog, WORT has spent more than 40 years building up a slate of programming that reaches into dozens of musical genres and provides several hours per day of reporting and discussion on news and public affairs. WORT’s tiny staff and hundreds of volunteers provide a multi-faceted resource: Not only is the station a source for music and journalism, it’s also an incredible place to learn about reporting, DJing, and audio engineering, among other skills. Most importantly, it’s a place to learn about the value of an independent media that prioritizes serving its community.

Tone Madison contributors have also had a ton of involvement in WORT as both volunteers and staff members, from hosting and curating music shows to producing talk shows and reporting local news stories. Even though the shooting was apparently an isolated incident, it strikes close to home and it doesn’t help the feeling that journalists are vulnerable these days.

Our own podcast is co-produced with WORT and airs in an abbreviated version on the station’s weeknight news show, and in fact it might not have existed at all if not for the encouragement and support of WORT folks like Molly Stentz and Dylan Brogan. The collaborative, heady and sometimes downright chaotic atmosphere of WORT has given me a lot of faith that experimenting and taking risks is worthwhile. As upsetting as this incident is, I know that WORT will continue to serve and inspire, and I encourage Madisonians to donate to the station to help with repairs and support all the work WORT will do in the future.

Illustration by Rachal Duggan.

Illustration by Rachal Duggan.

New this week:

Ahead of this weekend’s Great Taste of the Midwest, Mark Riechers urges his fellow craft-beer fanatics to stop it with the pretzel necklaces already, with illustrations from Rachal Duggan.

The Shitty Barn is dabbling in experimental music.

On the podcast, further discussion of the role the arts should play in Wisconsin’s gubernatorial election, with help from Anne Katz of Arts Wisconsin and Dylan Brogan of Isthmus

Elsewhere on the Madison internet: An art sale benefits the AIDS Resource Center. MC/producer DLO released two new tracks. Rapper Rob Dz dropped his Yacht Hop 2 mixtape. MDC will play an October 15 show at the High Noon Saloon. Rupi Kaur will visit the Union Theater on September 29.

This week’s Madison calendar: Crusty hardcore outfit Pyroklast returns to Mickey’s. Joe Pera brings his wise, gentle stand-up to the Comedy Club on State. Colombia’s Tribu Baharú play the North Street Cabaret. And more.

An ode to the best and worst of Madison summers.

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