In our ever continually growing podcast market we're starting to see the trend of professional broadcasters start up their own shows. Individuals with unique talents cast aside for automation or cutting costs or some other reasoning, taking those skills and creating their own show to do what they wish for a willing audience that wants to listen. And this past month we got a brand new show with a familiar voice.
--- Artie Fufkin, the beloved afternoon X96 talent, who jokingly mishandled the daily operations of simply playing music, was a fixture of the station in various positions for sixteen years. But after his sudden departure from the airwaves in late 2008, many were left wondering what happened to the guy with little info to go on. But now he's back, with internet programming genius Zack Shutt, to bring you Artie's Alt Nation. An unfiltered show of soda sipping, story telling and music listening, all from the mind of Mr. Fufkin himself. I got a chance to chat with Artie about his career in radio, the brand new podcast, thoughts on local music and a few other topics.
Gavin: Hey Artie! First off, tell us a bit about yourself?
Artie: I grew up in Orem and West Jordan. I was always a hyper child. My Mother always thought I had worms.
Gavin: How did you first take an interest in radio and broadcasting?
Artie: I have always loved to make people laugh. Performing has always been in my blood. I’ve been obnoxious and adventurous my whole life. Radio was a perfect fit for me.
Gavin: Did you seek out any college for it or just jump into it?
Artie: I specifically picked Southern Utah University. I did a weekly alternative music show back in the day called “In Your Ear” and played cool new music and alternative classics. I even had Todd Nuke‘Em on the show when he came down to check out the Shakespeare Festival. I became the Program Director of the station, and got us hooked up with a subscription to the College Music Journal. We reported our play list and got the attention of record labels around the country. We started to receive hundred of packages of cool new music. We started to shift from playing Top-40 music, to playing all this cool new rock similar to that which other college radio stations played across the country. SUU’s faculty objected to the weird new music, and we were forced to go back to playing Top-40. Looking back it was an incredible learning opportunity full of fantastic memories.
Gavin: How did the opportunity come about to work for X96?
Artie: I was an intern for Dom & Bill’s "Project X" when the station first signed on in 1992. Since then, I have driven the promotional vehicle (Xavier and Bessie the X96 Milk Beast), been a radio board-op, salesperson, promotions director, and eventually an on-air radio personality.
Gavin: What was it like for you being a part of that station when it was first starting up?
Artie: I was thrilled that I was around all of my favorite radio personalities. It was amazing to see where all of the radio magic was being made. I loved working behind the scenes at shows, events and promotions.
Gavin: How did you eventually move into an on-air position, and how did the audience take to you?
Artie: I was a board-op for the station for a few years, and then Mike Summers gave me an opportunity doing overnights in 1996. I was thrilled being on a big station, but was freaked out by the thought that so many people were listening. I loved being on the radio! I made people laugh, and enjoyed interacting with the audience. I knew I fit in perfectly from the beginning….I was a big part of that station and I knew was damn lucky to be there.
Gavin: You eventually moved into a weekday slot and became a staple of the station. What did you think of the promotion when it happened?
Artie: From 1996 to 2002 I was a Corporate Sales Trainer for DirecTV and Sprint. I was on X96 on the weekends, and filled in for Radio from Hell when they were gone. It was a riot to change gears from working in a stuffy corporate setting, to letting my hair down and going nuts on the weekends on the radio… extreme opposite kind of jobs. I really had an amazing experience getting paid to be silly on-air.
Gavin: What brought about the “Amateur Radio” bits you started doing on the air? And was it more shtick or were you really having equipment problems?
Artie: I’ve always been doing stupid shtick on the air for years. I’ve referred to myself as” Big Mama Artie Fufkin” and “Rump Roast Artie Fufkin” at one time just to be stupid. At SUU, I was known as “Media Professional: Artie Fufkin” on our campus radio and TV stations. I even did the weather live on our “live at five” newscast… boy, that was scary as hell. I had no idea what I was doing. I would get the weather out of Tribune and USA Today and match it up with the on-screen graphics. I would purposely walk on the wrong side of the weather graphics to crack up the staff and amuse myself as well. They eventually put the graphics on the opposite side to throw me off… everyday it was something different. As far as the Amateur radio shtick I did on the radio, it really did freak me out at first that I was on such a big station, and I admit that I was nervous as hell and made mistakes. But then I eventually didn’t care because it all fit in with the anti-corporate radio image. I deiced to just relax, be myself, and eventually I became a bit more comfortable on the air.
Gavin: Since your departure, people have been really wondering what you've been up to the past few years. So please, tell us, what's been going on with you?
Artie: I’ve just been working hard to pay the rent, and trying to figure out what to do next with my life. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.
Gavin: How did the idea to start a podcast come about?
Artie: Zack Shutt did a Facebook on-line pole to see if anyone would care. There was some interest, and I thought I would give it a try.
Gavin: Why did you choose Zack as your engineer/co-host to help you out? And how has that partnership worked out?
Artie: Zack did an amazing job producing some amazing web-sites for X96 and the other Simmons properties. He always loved X96, and has become a good friend over the years. He already had all of the equipment from the "GeekShow Podcast", so it was a perfect fit.
Gavin: How do you go about choosing the music you're going to play each show?
Artie: We wanted to pick some cool music which you normally wouldn’t hear on the radio. There are tons of bands on Facebook and Myspace that I’ve come across that I would love to promote.
Gavin: Are there any plans to expand it into other topics or bring guests in to chat?
Artie: I would love to incorporate some guests into the show… maybe even spotlight some local artists… that would be cool. I’m even thinking about expanding the podcast on the road. It would be fun to interview people across the country that I encounter. We’ll see what happens.
Gavin: Going local for a bit, what's your take on our local music scene, both good and bad?
Artie: I’ve seen some great talent over the years performing at Tuesday Tunes at Trolley, Battle of the Bands and other station events. I even programmed the Live & Local show there for awhile. I wish that local radio could continue supporting the scene, but unfortunately they need to continue to “play the hits”, so to speak. I’ve been impressed by the efforts made by UtahFM to continue to support local artists.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?
Artie: I would love to help promote bands in any way that I can moving forward on the show. We have some great local talent, and it would be a riot to help out!
Gavin: What can we expect from you the rest of the year?
Artie: We’ll see how people react to the podcast, and we’ll take it from there. I would love to put out more shows if people are into it (and more frequently). I would also love to expand it with guests, local artists and even taking it on the road if I decide to travel.
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Artie: I’m willing to stand out on the street and promote your business or cause. I do a great job waiving at cars and getting people’s attention. Just supply me with a sign, a Double-Double, and a pack of Diet Dews.
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