On Nov. 1, several students had the opportunity to meet with Cydne Gillard, a producer at WFMT Chicago Radio, in an intimate setting in a conference room in the Conservatory. Students were able to ask Gillard a variety of questions, mostly concerning the work she does on the show she produces called “Exploring Music.”
The show is hosted by conductor, composer, music-educator and award-winning radio personality Bill McGlaughlin. According to the WFMT website, the show is “an expedition through the world of classical music.” Each week, a new theme is chosen and explored. There are currently over 200 episodes, the most recent three entitled, “Curse of the Ninth! Ninth Symphonies,” begging the question, “Why did so many of music’s great symphonists die after completing their ninth symphony?; “Green and Pleasant Land,” exploring “the pastoral musical landscapes of the British Isles;” and “Maiden Voyages,” about the first symphonic efforts of several great composers.
Gillard was able to tell us about many of the ins and outs of producing a successful radio show, which was particularly fascinating to WLFM Radio DJs in attendance, including senior Molly Reese, the head of WLFM Radio.
Gillard has a very impressive academic history, having transferred between several universities, including San Francisco State University, Yale University and Wesleyan University. She has always been involved in classical music in some way, shape or form. A music teacher herself, she has an excellent ear and talent for mixing “Exploring Music,” often working in applications like ProTools. Mixing sound is certainly an art form in and of itself, as it is the act of creating sound effects from scratch. Gillard does not do this, but we spent a lot of time in the meeting discussing the work of Foley artists and how unique sounds are created that are not simply downloaded from an online sound library and plopped into a mix. Gillard is quite particular about the music and sounds they use on the show. “I’m very opinionated about what I do,” she said.
Students inquired about decision making in editing and producing and how Gillard can decide what is “worth it” in sound decisions. She answered honestly that it depends on when the project is due, and she must remind herself that the finished product, even when it is not perfectly in line with the vision, is simply “different, not better.” She said that what truly matters is that listeners can hear every word McGlaughlin is saying.
Gillard was also interested in us, the students, and the inner workings of the shows that go on at WLFM Radio. We each described our shows and their premises — that is, if they had one at all — and joked about the lack of weekly listeners, all agreeing that we often acknowledge on-air that there is likely no audience for what we are saying. Of course, that is not really the point of doing a radio show on WLFM; it is more to gain journalistic experience, increase creativity, get more comfortable with one’s own voice and have fun.
Tune in to “Exploring Music” Monday through Friday at 7 p.m.
If you are interested in participating in WLFM Radio, email Molly Reese at email@example.com.