Column 229: Worlds of Wayne 100; The Stay Awake tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 5:47 pm July 8, 2009

Years and years ago, I was asked why I didn’t have a podcast. I certainly could — I’m loaded with Mac equipment, which makes such things easy as pie. My answer was/is that I barely have time to keep my blog updated let alone sit in front of a microphone and read the blog to those too lazy to read it themselves. Sure, I suppose I could do a lot of stuff other than just read what I’ve written, but it would cut into time I need to write and rewrite, not only Lazy-i but also the music features I try to write on a regular basis (and on top of that, if I depended on recorded interviews, it would double the time necessary to write due to transcription, and I hate transcription). Anyway, I don’t need a podcast because Wayne has his. And though we generally don’t follow the same music (Wayne’s taste runs drastically more mainstream and less indie than mine) our reporting paths do overlap (sometimes). And there’s no way I could do it as well as he does.

Find out Friday when Worlds of Wayne episode No. 100 goes online at worldsofwayne.com. I’m the special in-studio guest. Tell me how well I did, because I very likely won’t listen to the program due to a severe phobia about listening to my own recorded voice — another reason why I don’t do a podcast.

Column 229: Omaha’s Podfather
Worlds of Wayne turns 100

And with a click of a mouse, the Worlds of Wayne Show was on the air.

Well, not really “on the air.” Worlds of Wayne isn’t broadcast in a conventional sense. Actually, Worlds of Wayne isn’t broadcast at all. It’s a podcast, a digital recording that you listen to on your computer at worldsofwayne.com, or download and take with you on your iPod or whatever kind of portable music device you prefer. When WoW began three years ago, it was kinda/sorta new technology, a way for talented talkers like Wayne to get their message out without having to deal with the bureaucracy and idiocy of mainstream radio.

It was that idiocy that drove Wayne to first plug his microphone into his tower PC, slap on a set of “cans” and begin sharing his worldview — along with his favorite music — with an audience wandering in that dark, crowded nether world that we call The Internet.

“Wayne,” by the way, is Wayne Brekke, drummer for such famous Omaha pop bands as Five Story Fall, The Get and Anonymous American; graphic artist, freelance writer (whose assignments include work for this very newspaper), husband and father and music-loving man-about-town. As of last Monday evening, Wayne had recorded 99 episodes of Worlds of Wayne. For his 100th, he invited me to sit in on the festivities. How could I say no?

The Worlds of Wayne studio is located in a small room in a small house on the north side of Benson, a spare bedroom turned into an epicenter. Behind a mic, computer and console of knobs and dials was Wayne looking like a stocky beat poet in a stretched-out red tank top and black gym shorts that I just assumed he’d been sleeping in only moments before I arrived. He balanced a rim-filled martini glass as he slid into his black leather office chair, carefully avoiding a hairy pile of flesh with a tail called “Timmy J,” an overweight white tabby who later would be evicted from the studio upon suffering a wheezing fit.

And with a click of a mouse, we were “on the air.” No. 100 was in progress.

It was a retrospective show not unlike those anniversary episodes of Happy Days or Laverne and Shirley where the characters reminisce about the past as lead-in to clips from previous shows. Wayne talked about his favorite episodes, like the one where he had two paranormal groups in-studio to talk about their ghost-busting exploits and play snippets of EVPs — Electronic Voice Phenomenon, i.e., ghost recordings. Spooky, if you believe in that sort of thing (and I don’t).

There were the in-studio performances by the likes of Chris Trapper (of the Push Stars), Seneca, Sweet Pea, Brad Hoshaw, Skypiper, John Elliott, Orenda Fink and Korey Anderson, among others. Wayne is compiling the best ones into a CD — Worlds of Wayne – Studio Sessions Vol. 1 — his version of The John Peel Sessions.

And then there are the interviews, including with such notables as KISS guitarist Ace Frehley, Achy Breaky Heart guy and Miley’s father Billy Ray Cyrus and Blues Traveler keyboard player Ben Wilson, who was the first guest on the first show July 26, 2006.

That first episode also featured music by Anonymous American and Sarah Benck as well as Wayne’s natterings about whatever entered his mind. “I explained the show and what I wanted to do,” he said. “I just wanted to focus on music, art and culture, with commentary and interviews with local and national guests.” And that’s exactly what Worlds of Wayne became, and is. Brekke originally wanted to do it on the radio, until he got a small taste of the business, just enough to turn his stomach.

“I found out how corporate and restricted it was,” he said, adding that he was turned off by “the buffoon-ism of the morning shows, where the DJ’s knew less about music than my cat. They were behind the times on everything musicwise. It was like listening to your parents try to make a teenage joke.”

Podcasting was his perfect alternative. “I can play whatever I want, say whatever I want. I can swear. I can have it be about anything and just put it out there for people to take with them.”

And people have. Brekke said Worlds of Wayne is downloaded about 1,500 times a month, with fans from as far away as Europe and Australia. The rise of new media sites like Twitter and Facebook has only helped his audience grow. “I’m now known more for Worlds of Wayne than any band I’ve ever been in,” he said. It’s that notoriety that keeps him doing it. “I’m an attention hog. I like the spotlight, but I don’t play in bands much anymore. This is my way of keeping my name out there and staying connected with the music scene.”

In other words, Worlds of Wayne isn’t a money maker, and never was intended to be, though he does have a few sponsored ads, just enough to pay for his mics and cables and other upgrades. Just enough to keep him going, and that’s all he wants to do. Until he reaches No. 200, and beyond.

“Part of me is old school,” he said. “There’s an intimacy that comes with listening to a radio show even if it’s on the Internet. I’ve captured some pretty amazing things.”

And with a click of the mouse, Worlds of Wayne signed off… until No. 101.

* * *

Omaha’s favorite noise-punk trio, The Stay Awake, opens a show tonight at The Waiting Room for St. Louis’ So Many Dynamos and Lincoln’s Tie These Hands. $8, 9 p.m. Also tonight, Chicago mid-fi pop band Netherfriends (on Emergency Umbrella Records) plays with adamroberthauG, Conchance and Capgun Coup’s Sam Martin and Sean Pratt. $5, 9 p.m.

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