I chatted with the award-winning DJ (the Riverfront Times named "Emotional Rescue" Best Rock Radio Show in 2009) about her history with KDHX, her early discovery of music and what keeps her going as a volunteer on the radio.
Dani Kinnison: How did you get started at KDHX?
Cat Pick: Well, I started with my first husband and we started volunteering in like 1988 maybe, so it's been a long time. We did music library stuff, so of course we wanted a show and put our application in. Then we got a show near the end of 1988 and that was a Saturday night into Sunday morning, 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. We had that for quite some time.
How do you pick stuff for Emotional Rescue?
In the past, I think it was different when we started because it was just so important to play certain things that nobody knew about. That was before [the Internet] and everybody knows everything now, you can find it in a second. Our first show was called "Left of the Dial," because we loved the Replacements so much, and normal people didn't know about the Replacements.
And I think now, the older I get and the longer I've done it, it's kind of just what sounds good that day. And I do the birthdays, so that's kind of a starting point every week, things that I've never heard before necessarily, so it's fun. But I think it's less, the way music is now, it doesn't feel so like "Oh my god, everybody must love every single thing I play because it's so important" you know what I mean? It's way more, "I wanna play this song so I'm going to play it."
Does your own personal music taste overlap with your show?
Absolutely. I think it's pretty clear. People tease me about things that I'm obsessed with that I'll play a lot. I started my show with Elbow a lot, for probably more than a year, and now I don't do it very often anymore, but that's what people say to me. So yeah, definitely my own tastes absolutely come through, but I do play a lot of stuff off the new shelf. We don't rule out something necessarily just because it's popular on regular radio. But a lot of people who listen to KDHX don't listen to regular radio so they don't hear it.
Do you have a certain format for "Emotional Rescue"?
I probably have about half of my show done beforehand. I do playlists on my computer, probably about an hour and a half's worth, and the rest is just whatever. So that works out. I like having that so I know if something happens I don't freak out and I'll have something there to play.
Some people are very planned with their shows, down to the minute. I can't even imagine that. It just seems to work out. After you do it for such a long time, I mean I haven't done it solidly since I've started, but for the most part, I think you just get the rhythm down and you just know. I don't even think about it.
What do you listen to when you're not programming?
I listen really obsessively to things. When I love something, that's all I want to listen to and I'll listen to it over and over. Sometimes it's even just a song. I can listen to one song for a week. It's just the way I've always been. Sometimes that leads me to think about the show stuff, but it's like those are kind of separate.
Do you have a background in music? What do you do in your time outside of KDHX?
No, I mean when I started, I wrote for Jet Lag, it was a local 'sine. So that kind of started from there, but it's been a long time. I have lots of friends in bands but other than that, not really. My interest in music started when I was really little. My parents had good taste, or my dad anyway.
So I was listening to Bob Dylan when I was a little kid, and my siblings are older than me, so they left a lot of records at home. I was listening to the Beatles and Motown stuff when I was little, so it kind of started there. I've loved Bob Dylan since I was in the third grade and the Who since the fifth grade, and still do. I never really did the teeny bopper stuff ever when I was a kid.
Why keep doing your show?
It's just, it's part of my life I guess. It's just what I do. Sometimes I think, I'm tired of having to get up early, but I don't want to not have it. It's not for the fame and fortune by any means, but it's nice for people to know you are and put your stuff out there for people to hear. There's always that thing coming on that people just have to hear. There's always something like that. It's just kind of second nature now.