In between shifts as a traffic reporter for stations like KJR and KUBE, Wood programs and hosts a Sunday night local music show (launched via her proposal) for the Tacoma/Olympia Funky Monkey station (104.9 FM) and acts as a rotating host for KEXP's local show Audioasis, as well as covering shifts for absent KEXP DJs. Somehow she finds the time to maintain an educational and hilarious blog chronicling her work at hard-rock behemoth KISW, her other experiences working at Clear Channel, and her current happiness with landing sporadic work with KEXP. Recent entries have included a lesson in the sterile practice of voice-tracking (DJs from other towns pre-recording shows for broadcast in Seattle), how playlists are dictated and enforced without listener or DJ input, and just how dramatically those realities contrast with the way nonprofit, public-radio stations like KEXP are run. "I've never been so impressed with someone fitting in and bringing enthusiasm and drive to where I work than Lisa," says KEXP Programming Director John Richards.
Wood's affection for radio took hold when she realized she was wasting her time at a soul-stripping office job. "Five years ago I was sitting in a cubicle and going, 'What the fuck am I doing?'" she says. After completing the broadcast program at the Radio Connection school, Wood landed an internship at classic-rock station KZOK. This eventually led to work at KISW and the formative experiences that eventually turned her into an anti-corporate activist.
"I tried really hard to suck it up and pay my dues. But it wasn't radio to me, which is so naive in hindsight. I didn't realize how restrictive it was. I thought it was going to be like ['80s television show] WKRP, where people are actually picking out what they want to play."
Instead of becoming the female Johnny Fever of her dreams, Wood found herself fighting an uphill battle with the station's programming director, a close-minded character who quashed her proposal to start a one-hour show focusing on local hard rock, chastised her when she played the "wrong" Jimi Hendrix song (she granted a listener's request to hear "If 6 Was 9" instead of the corporate-sanctioned "Foxey Lady"), and eventually made life so unpleasant that she saw so no other recourse than to quit.
After landing the Funky Monkey gig and launching "Garage Monkey," a Sunday-night show focused on regional punk and metal artists, Wood began traffic broadcasting work for Metro Networks, a necessary financial augmentation to bridge the gap be-tween her dream of working at KEXP and the realities of needing to pay the bills. When asked if she's worried about her corporate employers seeing her blog, she's obviously aware of that possibility--but it's a risk she feels she has to take.
"The problem, I think, is that I don't care," she says, laughing heartily. "I'd be sad if they decided to yank [my show], but at the same time, I have to weigh it out. I didn't [purposely] start going on some tirade to educate people or be an activist. But I just quit KISW in such a fucking rage. It's your freedom to listen to commercial radio if you want, but people should know the truth about it."
As admirable as Wood's passionate voice may be, it's difficult to feel hopeful about commercial radio, given its current dismal state. I ask her if she thinks there's any chance things will change.
"That's kind of what I had in mind when I started writing [my blog]. If there was enough exposure about how this works, could we change things? Yeah, I think so. Look what happened with the whole Sinclair Broadcasting boycott before the election. Enough people rallied and told advertisers that they wouldn't buy their products because they were contributing to mediocrity. I'd love to see that happen."