Radio Summer Camp 411

image by Dwellephant

image by Dwellephant

Words by Erin Wolf

So, this ‘Radio Summer Camp‘ business: what’s it all about? Straight-shooter answer? It’s pretty much where 91.7 FM, WMSE throws a huge weekend party with shows throughout various venues that cater to nearly every genre on both a local and national level and also caters to the questions of those baffled by the music industry by offering a symposium (Sunday), where leaders in the industry will offer advice and know-how to attendees looking to brush up on all things band, label, press and booking-related. Fan-belt gets the lowdown from one of the main catalysts behind this weekend, WMSE Promotions Director Ryan Schleicher.

What was it like planning Radio Summer Camp?

We spent a lot of time professionally planning Radio Summer Camp…we wrote for and received city and state funding, plus we worked hard to secure sponsorship funds from local and national businesses. I personally gained a whole, new appreciation for just how complicated and difficult booking on a larger scale can be. I’m not ashamed to admit that I got laughed out of the room more times than my hands can count by the bigger booking agencies.

Radio Summer Camp is showing just how amazing our dedicated volunteer base is. We’re keeping it pretty small this first year, but even on this smaller scale, it really does take an army of good people to run a festival. Our volunteers are really coming through, so please say thanks when you see them at the shows.

Although there are several other shows in various Milwaukee venues, the focus is on the Backyard BBQ on Saturday: what are the details on this portion of Radio Summer Camp?

The Backyard BBQ is an idea [WMSE} Station Manager Tom Crawford has been kicking around for years. Once we decided as a staff to go forward with Radio Summer Camp, we immediately realized that the BBQ was the perfect ‘main event’ for a festival. The BBQ is an all-day outdoor show at Cathedral Square Park from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Tom’s idea has always been to make it a sort of rootsy, straw hats and lemonade kind of concert, so the BBQ leans towards country, blues, folk and Americana styles of music. And we really, really want to stress that Paul Cebar is the headliner. Paul is maybe the most under-appreciated musician in Milwaukee. He just keeps making great music, yet because he’s not really concerned with being ‘in the scene’, he often gets overlooked. He’s amazing and deserves the spotlight, so we made sure to give it to him.

Oh, and as is the case with any major WMSE event, there will be gobs of great food.

How do you feel about playing band mom to all of the out of town and local artists for one weekend?

Ha! Again, the volunteers will help a great deal. We want each band to be treated with all the courtesy they deserve. Touring, despite being sometimes portrayed as glorious, can be a grueling exercise. The second each band/musician gets out of their van, they should feel welcome and wanted; they should feel appreciated. So, to answer your question, I’m really looking forward to being one of the band moms.

The symposium  portion of Radio Summer Camp is a really great way to provide info on the music industry (labels, booking agents, bands, photographers, writers). What’s the set-up like for the symposium this year?

The music part of Radio Summer Camp is the fun sexy part. But the symposium is what we’re most proud of. We bring in insiders from various corners of the music business to hep teach young and aspiring musicians how to go about being a more successful artist. It’s part how-to, part best practices and part how not to.

We’re honored to have Gary Witt and Matt Beringer from the Pabst/Riverside/Turner organization as keynote speakers at 11 a.m. After the keynote, we’ll have free lunch available, then two panels of experts. The whole thing runs from 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., so the day should go fast while being packed with valuable lessons. Even if I wasn’t on staff, I’d go. It would be silly to pass up that much information without having to pay for it.

What are you personally really stoked about for this whole event?

I’m really excited to see how Milwaukee supports the music. We’re not going anywhere, and how adventurous we get in the coming years will be partly determined by how well this year’s festival is supported. I’m confident in Milwaukee.

The other thing I’m excited about is seeing bands as fans. In booking for RSC, a number of bands expressed their excitement to be playing with one of the other bands on the bill. It’s always good to see bands supporting bands or seeing musicians genuinely like another group. So many musicians seem to get jaded or lose their love for music other than what they are playing. I will never understand that. How do you stop being a fan of just listening to another great band?

Information on the various shows throughout the weekend of Radio Summer Camp, the Backyard BBQ and symposium can be found at the Events page at


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2 Responses to “Radio Summer Camp 411”

  1. Fan-belt Says:

    Added bonus!

    Be the first message-er on Twitter to tell us which band/show in the RSC lineup you’re particularly freaking out about, and win an entire weekend pass!

    That’s the whole weekend: shows at Garibaldi, Cactus, Miramar, Shank, Stonefly and more. Message us here at:

  2. Fan-belt Says:

    Congrats goes out to Conrad Plymouth, the winner of our RSC ticket giveaway on Twitter!

    Mr. Plymouth also has a review of his new CD up on F-b. Check it out and congrats. See y’all at Summer Camp this weekend.

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