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‘Bad Brad’ Wheeler’s brand new gig (and his large, multilingual playlist)

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Bad Brad Wheeler, 99.nine KUAA’s new program director, units up the studio in Salt Lake City on Mar 29, 2018. 99.nine KUAA is owned via the Utah Arts Alliance.

SALT LAKE CITY — When Joe McQueen, the 98-year-old jazz saxophone legend from Ogden, by chance pinned Brad Wheeler’s frame between two vehicles, Wheeler’s complete existence modified.

“And my leg exploded from behind my knee down to my calf,” Wheeler recalled. “You want to see it?”

Pulling up his pant leg, Wheeler published the scars from the coincidence. Streaks of purple-maroon pores and skin run down his proper calf. He and McQueen have been on their technique to a radio fundraiser when it took place. When Wheeler’s leg used to be first sewn up, it didn’t take, and he were given gangrene. He then gained a pores and skin graft and spent weeks improving in a clinic burn unit.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Bad Brad Wheeler, 99.nine KUAA’s new program director, presentations his getting better leg in Salt Lake City on Mar 29, 2018. 99.nine KUAA is owned via the Utah Arts Alliance.

“I mean, there’s stuff that you see in the burn unit,” Wheeler stated. “People are burnt from head to toe, you know — people that you get to be good friends with, and people that you watch pass away. It’s an eye-opening experience.”

Monday marks two years since that coincidence. It’s what led Wheeler, well known in Utah via his radio DJ title, “Bad Brad,” to the new place of work the place he now sits. No, it’s no longer at 90.nine KRCL, the place Wheeler used to be the station’s pressure time DJ for a decade. Now he’s at 99.9 KUAA, the Utah Arts Alliance‘s new multilingual radio station that introduced in October. Wheeler joined KUAA previous this 12 months as director of programming.

The coincidence and its accompanying stint within the burn unit used to be a warning call, Wheeler stated. He started finding out meditation, and he left KRCL final June after figuring out he and the station have been going in several instructions.

Talking to Wheeler now, he turns out somewhat Zen — words like “sometimes you hold on to something too tight, it doesn’t help you” and “with good intentions, good things happen” continuously break out his lips, albeit within the blue collar, radio DJ tone for which he’s turn out to be so recognizable.

At this level, Wheeler’s KUAA place of work nonetheless appears like an incomplete comic strip: A couple of microphones, screens and CD decks are scattered about with an outdated blending console sitting atop a big table. Most of that apparatus used to be donated via enthusiasts and well-wishers.

“Literally, this radio station appears like Johnny Cash’s ‘One Piece At A Time,’” he stated. “It’s all slowly coming together.”

The Cash reference is becoming, particularly for anyone like Wheeler. He’s handpicked KUAA’s present track record, which has 10,906 songs. It’s a staggeringly various mixture of outdated blues, rock and nation from in every single place the sector. KUAA’s programming is one-third English song and one-third Spanish song with the opposite 1/3 devoted to songs in different languages.

Wheeler doesn’t declare to be a global song skilled, alternatively.

“I feel like I need to create something for everyone, but I also know that I’m just one guy,” he stated.

The activity in entrance of him is somewhat tricky: Play various bilingual song that can lure people who don’t most often concentrate to it, keep cohesive and create “stationality,” as he calls it, that means station identification, and drum up hobby right through Salt Lake City.

His answer? Much of the song in his 10,906-song playlist is foreign-language variations of vintage American pop songs. Wheeler stated he’s were given 25 variations of Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” and 13 variations of “Louie Louie.”

“There’s probably no other radio station in America that plays ‘Wooly Bully’ in as many languages as we do,” he stated. “And who even is aware of what they’re pronouncing in ‘Wooly Bully’ in any language? But it’s a common feeling that you’re feeling — ‘wooly buuuuullllyyyy!’

“It creates nostalgia in you,” he persisted. “But it’s not real because you’ve never heard it before, yet you know that melody.”

KUAA’s present sound will evolve, regardless that, as Wheeler and different Utah Arts Alliance contributors incorporate new DJs, hosts and methods. Wheeler stated he’s excited to get audition tapes and display pitches. He’s additionally prepping to helm his drive-time display once more.

As for a way the station will divvy up its time precisely, he’s nonetheless no longer positive. Salt Lake City’s demographics, Wheeler stated, have modified so much prior to now 5 years. Doing a real multicultural radio station has possibly by no means been harder in Utah.

“How do you tackle it?” Wheeler requested. “Is it like the United Nations, does every country get a show?”


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Wheeler has his proportion of global revel in. He used to be in fact born in England. A station like KUAA, he stated, feels culturally necessary presently.

“I believe in humanity, I believe in culture, I believe that we are all citizens of one planet,” he stated. “It is kind of an exciting time to listen to the radio, isn’t it?”

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Bad Brad Wheeler, 99.nine KUAA’s new program director, talks about his process at his studio in Salt Lake City on Mar 29, 2018. 99.nine KUAA is owned via the Utah Arts Alliance.

Correction: An previous model of this tale incorrectly attributed the track “Caravan” to Van Morrison. The track used to be at the beginning written via Duke Ellington and Juan Tizol.

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