GTPulse: Connected Eclectic Brings Hip Hop to Local Radio

The further north you travel in Michigan, the more difficult it becomes to find a dedicated hip hop channel on the radio. Ciehl Windiate noticed this gap in radio channel diversity and wanted to change it.

“I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but most of my family is in Michigan. It’s a big city, so there were two or three dedicated hip hop stations. So, I guess I was just exposed to it.”

Even though he didn’t grow up in Northern Michigan, his family has a home on Torch Lake and he spent childhood summers visiting. As a young adult, he moved to Eastport, Michigan when his family left New Mexico. He spent time in Florida with his mom before deciding that here was where he wanted to be.

“I love it here, especially this area.”

A new Michigan resident, he began taking some classes at Northwestern Michigan College.

“That’s how I found out about WNMC, about four years ago or so. I was a student and I saw the banner on the student website for volunteers. I was kind of having a rough winter that year, you know, typical winter blues. I just needed to do something and I’ve always loved music so I reached out.”

Community college radio stations are arguably the coolest radio station in any town with one. They have something for everyone and really embody inclusivity in both music style and who can run a show.

“Anyone can do it too. You don’t have to be a student, you can be 50 years old and never have gone there. It’s open to everyone.”

He focused his first show on jazz.

“Because out of all the genres that’s where I thought I could work hip hop in.”

A lot of modern hip hop samples older jazz in their tracks and Ciehl had a roadmap for how he wanted to get hip hop on the air locally. He gained his studio manager’s trust with his work ethic and song selections. Eventually, the manager didn’t feel the need to approve Ciehl’s playlists anymore. He had proved himself as not only a reliable radio host but a good one too.

When a Friday night show got canceled there was an opening from midnight to 2 a.m. on Friday nights, or technically, Saturday mornings. 

“He was taking ideas and I pitched him my idea and he took it. So, it was like…this is actually happening. I don’t really wanna call researching music work, but it paid off because I stuck with it.”

The hip hop show is called Connected Eclectic and began last October. The method for how he creates the two-hour playlists ties in with the name of the show. The playlist is a thread of hip hop songs that are connected through the same sample or the same artists featured on a particular song.

“I’ll start with a hip hop song, play that and then look into what they sampled. That’s something I’ve always really loved and been interested in, where artists get their influence from. So, a lot of these shows are weekly history lessons almost. I try to be balanced as far as old school and new school. Up until recently, I was kind of an old school snob, but all my songs are songs I’ve never played before. Every week I discover music I haven’t heard.”

He hasn’t been in the studio since COVID-19 restrictions began. As of right now, he runs the show from home.

“Right now I have to purchase all the music because when I’m at the studio I can just use Apple Music and download everything and play it through the aux cord. But now, since I’m not there I have to purchase each song so I can burn it to a CD, convert it to mp3 and put it in a zip file, then I send it to my manager.”

He also is involved with local talent and has had Rudy Williams, a local hip hop artist, in the studio to freestyle on air. He wants to continue to feature more local talent on the show. He keeps the balance between vintage and modern hip hop, and although the passion project is currently costing him money, he doesn’t mind.

“I figure even though I’m spending like $30 bucks a week to do it, it’s worth it to me if just one person is listening.”

Catch Connected Eclectic on your next Friday late-night drive. The show runs every Saturday from midnight to 2 a.m. on WNMC 90.7.

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Categories: GTPulse