Ryan Mifflin on the Problem of "Heard Of" but "Not Heard"
Ed. Musicians may get all the groupies, but there is more to a city's music world than people wielding instruments. To name a few: venue and studio owners, show promoters, assorted enthusiasts and -- the subject of this series -- bloggers.
In Music Blogs of St. Louis, we'll talk to the humans behind the computer screens about who they are, why they do it and some highlights of their experience.
Turn a radio to 89.5 FM Thursdays from 8 p.m. to 10, and you'll hear the voice of Ryan Mifflin, DJing Dirty Roots Radio -- a show that compiles select rock & roll tracks that Mifflin chooses for their obscurity. Otis Ryan Productions is an amalgamation of weekly Dirty Roots playlists', esoteric musings on Mifflin's favorite music, life, album and concert reviews, and interviews.
The Greenville, Illinois native has been in the music industry for 18 years-over half his life. His premier foray in radio was at the tender age of 17. A contact within his high school's drama department hooked him up with a part-time gig for a local radio station during his senior year, "I always wanted to be in radio. For whatever reason, that's what I wanted to do when I grew up."
While attending Greenville College for Mass Communication, Mifflin began DJing shows for WGRN, and after moving to St. Louis after graduation, began work at KSD 93.7 (currently The Bull), "Mix 93.7 was the name of the station when I worked with Smash and Margie. I produced the morning show." His next stop was Greenville's WGEL, where he was the News Director for five years. "Now I work in marketing, but I still wanted to keep [DJing], so I have Dirty Roots Radio at the college station, WGRN."
Dirty Roots is the culmination of Mifflin's curious nature,"Bob Dylan said he was a 'musical expeditionary' and I like that term. I really enjoy seeking stuff out." Mifflin also battles the scourge of "heard of" but "not heard", "There are people you've heard of, that you want to find out about," he says. Hence Dirty Roots proclivity for playing acts who's name you recognize, but songs that go largely unrecognized, "Even if it's someone like Elvis. You know who he is, you know what he did, you know the songs that were on the radio, that were overplayed--but there is still a lot of cool stuff that he did," Digging through an artist's archive, Mifflin stumbles upon work that surprises listeners, "People say, 'Really? Is that who this is?" Mifflin's knack for uncovering gems, and the joy he finds in sharing his treasures, lead him to blogging.
First Entry: 12/8/2009: It was a spirituality thing -- which is an ongoing theme. I'm not in the same place I was once in. But that's where I was, and I shared that.
Purpose: To turn people on to things that move me and share what moves me. I'm one of those people that's a total music geek and really enjoys digging this stuff up.
Why That Focus: Maybe there was a specific jump-off point of a "A-ha!" moment that was the catalyst for their subject matter.
Favorite Entry:1/11/2011: One of my first music entries was in 2011. "Long Live Social D". Social Distortion is one of my favorite bands. And the entry was just about that. Why they are one of my favorite bands. Part of what I love about them is that they were the first bands who's interviews I would listen to. And [singer/guitarist] Mike Ness would talk about Hank Williams. That's how I discovered Hank Williams. Or he'd talk about some old punk band, and I would go find out about that band. I call it "Going Back". If I find out what influenced my favorite artists.
Best Thing About Blogging:When you can turn someone on to something new.
Biggest Difficulty in Blogging:Editing is a hard thing. I feel this stuff deep. If I'm really into a band, I tend to kind of gush about it. Then I have to rein myself. I want all my posts to be unique-I try to put some of myself in there. That can be a challenge. That's my biggest challenge: Trying to put something in a unique way
Why You Should Start a Blog:In a blog, it's feasible to do what you want. Anybody can express themselves and share what they love. I love that concept of sharing what you love.