Q&A with ... Joe Kelley, radio host
FAIRFIELD — Joe Kelley’s voice has been on the airwaves for nearly four decades now. He shows no signs of stopping.
“I have more years for my show and I love bringing people to it and their work to stage,” Kelley, 54, said.
Originally from New Jersey, Kelley has grown up in Fairfield since he was two years old. Along with his wife Gi Dussault, the two host the “Upper Room with Joe Kelley and Gi Dussault” radio show every Monday from 6 to 8 p.m.
Kelly took some time to talk about his radio career and the changes in the industry.
Q: How did you get started with radio?
A: I went to Fairfield Prep and graduated in 1982 and that summer I did a show at WVOF where I am now, before going to college. I did a show that summer and actually a year later worked for a couple years at Bridgeport WNAB in commercial radio there. Then I continued to Taiwan to work as an English textbook editor there.
When I came back to the States in 1991, I started at WVOF and started the show and I also have a home studio and do shows out of there.
Q: How did your passion for music start out?
A: My mom is a singer, my brother a musician and my dad was always into music. For me, it was watching Soul Train on Saturday mornings, buying records from funk, jazz and soul groups and spending way too much money on music.
Funk music is my number one type of music and Prince is my favorite artist of all time.
Q: Did you meet Prince?
A: I met him in the late 1990s in New York City. In March of 2004 my wife and I hosted a Sunday night radio show in our home studio and Prince’s music club would listen to us and our show. He got word of our show and we got a request from his website director asking if we could give him a banner from our radio show for their online site.
All of a sudden, we’re getting emails and my radio show was on the front page of Prince’s site. You couldn’t get anything on there without his approval.
We had a great relationship. We once had a misunderstanding about something and Prince actually got the wrong information about our show and he apologized in a way where he sent us a three-disc CD box set that he hadn’t released anywhere else in the world. People were bootlegging our radio show — it was the One Nite Alone, a three-disc CD set and it’s pretty collectible now.
Q: You’ve interviewed various artists. What interview stands out to you?
A: I don't think I have a single one interview. I love interviewing the local musicians like Mystic Bowie, a big reggae star, it’s always nice to have them on our show. Others too like Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz of the Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club and we still have a big rapport with people in Minneapolis that worked with Prince, they feature our show up there. Other cool interviews include Cyndi Lauper, she was on tour with Cher and she phoned in for her interview, she was nice.
Q: You’ve been in the industry for decades. What are some of the biggest changes?
A: I would say for radio it’s how we listen to music and radio shows — I listen on my own time and convenience.
We archive our shows, we have a ton of stuff. I think now more people are listening on demand when they want to whether it be in their car, their phones … that’s one of the biggest changes, instead of listening live on their radio. People never listen to their radio, they'll listen to a show through the internet.
Unfortunately for musicians and why they need shows like our show and others is that they'll record a new CD and people don't buy music. It’s tough because they're still making great music and they're not getting back financially what they're putting into it. It’s really tough to make a living for musicians and so we give them a venue.