Ryan Wen

HOST

, Tuesdays 8pm - 11pm & Saturdays 2pm - 6pm

What musical experience most set you on the path to a career in radio?

To be honest, I didn’t listen to a whole lot of radio until I awoke in my early twenties with a film degree and a job organizing boxes in an industrial refrigerator in San Francisco’s warehouse district. The radio kept me sane in the cold metal room, and after listening to about six hundred episodes of This American Life I decided maybe I should go back to school and get a job in broadcasting. 

Most of my friends had long been priced out of the Bay Area anyways, so I moved to Austin (don’t hate me) for UT’s Radio-Television-Film master’s program. In the throes of my coursework, I discovered KVRX, UT’s student radio station, and became a DJ and their Music Director. KVRX will always stay close to my heart–it’s filled with passionate listeners who tempered my music fanaticism into something that, hopefully, makes for interesting radio.

What’s your favorite Austin music experience so far? 

Hole in the Wall blessed me with a job the day I moved to Austin. It was like a five-year-long course on both current and past Austin music culture, and despite my prodigious consumption of T.W. Samuels, some good memories are still intact. To bartend is to be a captive audience for anyone talking at you, and I listened to many stories from multiple generations Austin Music fans: Townes Van Zandt once showed up at the Hole in drag at 7 am to clean the bar in exchange for beer; Don Henley did an impromptu set after a Fastball show; Doug Sahm haunts the back bar. Truth or not, there have been some good stories, but that last one is definitely true.

When my “back in my day” years come I’ll hold bartenders hostage with stories about midnight electrified banjo dirges from Little Mazarn, the Oysters singing love songs wearing only diapers, western swing on Sundays with Chandler Wilkinson IV, and getting sucker-punched by someone trying to break into an overcapacity White Denim show.

Why public rather than commercial radio? 

Risk is not in the vocabulary of a vast majority of radio frequencies, and safe and familiar seems to be their metric for quality. Public radio is uniquely disentangled from market-based obligations, at least to the degree where it doesn’t need to cyclically vomit up playlists invented by a consulting firm or an algorithm. Also, Public radio by definition is funded by and made to serve its local community. No matter how small it is, we can each individually move our world towards a better place, and getting involved in your community is one of the best ways to do it. I’m grateful my role is to champion new, underappreciated, and local artists.

How do you spend your time when you’re not spinning records on the air?

I want to be dishonest to avoid revealing how big of a nerd I am, but who’s gonna read this far anyway? I was in three separate Dungeons and Dragons Campaigns last year if that gives you an idea. Studying film and film sound for most of my twenties conditioned me to love artsy-fartsy cinema and animation. And I’ve been playing online videogames since I was eight and clandestinely plugged the phone line into my Dad’s work computer to play Starcraft: Broodwar. I’ll have you know, I was once in the top 100 NA Teamfight Tactics players and I’m a free-to-play Legend in Hearthstone. So you know, massive nerd.

Finish the sentence: “Austin Music Is ….”

Austin Music can’t be put in a box maaaan.