Lizzie Baumgartner (she/her) of Chicago, is an Audio Production Coordinator for Alt-Rock stations at Audacy, Inc., a podcast host for the Emo Social Club, and a faculty advisor at WRSE & adjunct professor. Even though she is busy with work, Lizzie loves to go to shows, do yoga, read, and try out different methods to brew coffee! After six years of being a barista and experience from her hobby, her method of brewing coffee is a v60 coffee pour-over (Ethiopian blend coffee or Peaberry).
What inspired you to pursue a career in the music industry?
When I was in high school, I had the flu and stayed home for two weeks. During that time I found FuseTV playing music videos along with a variety of other music programming. While a lot of friends and colleagues credit MTV for their plight into music, waking up from a cold medicine induced nap to cure a fever, to see Hollywood Undead’s “Undead” music video going into Rise Against’s “Audience of One” gave me the wild notion that working in music would be something I wanted to do.
Originally, I wanted to do some type of writing and hosting; interviewing bands, and doing something like Steven’s Untitled Rock Show. What’s funny is that I hate being in front of the camera. But from there, I really looked for different avenues to enter into the industry and eventually did thanks to college radio once I transferred to my alma mater in 2015.
Can you explain what you do as an audio coordinator?
This position is only a year old so it involves a bit of everything along with random odds and ends. I’m the night producer so I’ll edit a variety of shows to air in syndicated markets for our alternative and country stations. There are also promos, interviews, and other aspects that get thrown my way to quality check, edit, upload or move around to find its perfect sound and home. Every day involves something new and working with a variety of people, so it’s never boring or consistent in tasks and I find that incredibly motivating.
What do you wish you had known when you started your career?
How much it truly is an “it’s who you know” career path to the highest degree. While there’s always that statement made it became heavily apparent once I started interning at a variety of smaller music entities around Chicago. You need to build your network and, in a way, always be networking.
For your podcast, the Emo Social Club, how do you decide on a subject for each episode?
Our episodes are interview-based, most of the time and we’ll comb through our pressers and search social media for people we’d like to talk with. From there, I research their band/project/non-profit, etc., and compile notes for us to reference during our interview. When it isn’t an interview, it might be a tier list that we did on our Twitch stream on emosocialclub.tv or a best of type episode if either of us are out of town and couldn’t interview during our usual times.
What is your favorite project that you have worked on?
In general, most things I’ve coordinated for ESC are my favorite. Something that really stands out to me is our pre-covid Emo Karaoke charity events. We were only able to run three of them but it’s a night where we giveaway different items from surrounding local businesses, bands, and labels along with emo karaoke on a stage. All the money from the evening went directly to an organization of our choice. The other folks who also had tables also would donate some or all of their sales of the evening too to the organization. It’s such a wonderful community moment and we are looking for a way to do it again in the safest way possible to continue to help our community and causes we believe in.
Since you started working in radio, what is the most significant change you have seen?
Automation and syndication. When I started in corporate radio in 2018, and even during college radio from 2016-2017, the large shift to being automated and pre-recorded from live 24/7 or during the daytime hours, automation was looked down on and often a last case scenario situation. When COVID hit we saw a larger need for it since no one could be in stations together and now it’s gotten to be a new standard. While there’s lots of kinks to work out, more often than now, most popular shows will send me their breaks hours before their show start time, days before, or even a week ahead of time. In a way, it’s good for talent because you get somewhat of a “normal” 9-5 balance but there’s also the audience connection issue that comes up.
It’s really interesting to play around with and see what’s next for it. Along with how we as an audience and radio stations will adapt to make it a happy medium.
How is working on college radio different from a regular radio station?
College radio is much more loose in a way. Yes, there’s a general manager/programming director in charge who’s faculty to handle invoices, engineers, etc. at the student level, you have a lot more creativity to grow your skills. As a former college radio kid, it allowed me to work with my chaotic schedule at midnight to 3 am to put together a show and be on air. It also allowed me to learn programming, promotions, interviewing, and production aspects that outside of this environment, I wouldn’t have done without getting a job in radio. For my students I advise over at WRSE, I adopt the same mindset; I’m here to teach, assist and be supportive to them and handle the business side while they experiment with programming, promotions, and whatever else they want to do.
For a regular, corporate, at least, station, it’s pretty established with how things operate. Some of my stations are legacy based so we need to keep up our standard practices and work with many others to make items operational since we are a national company with many markets. While I now work remotely, while I was in the office for my corporate Chicago stations, it was very easy to just chat with people in different departments and stations to get more info on their jobs, offer them help with projects and shadow their daily works if they were cool with it. It’s more stringent but needed however, it’s still a creative industry that’s pivoting to audio altogether and that’s what makes it unpredictable and fun (at least for me); I enjoy having different tasks and events occurring day to day for work to keep me on my toes to keep the excitement up.
What is something that you would like to work on in 2022?
For ESC, we want to try to do more live reporting, interviews, and other cool livestream-esqe events. Currently, we’ve been booking some Chicago emo nights that are TBA and are excited about that. Expanding into IRL has been important to us to reconnect with our local following and those out of state as well.
For radio, I’d love to have my students at RSE become more confident in interviewing and production techniques. Some of them even said they wanted to work on campus with another organization to do their own emo night. Recently, we were nominated for 3 Intercollegiate Broadcast Systems awards for 2022. While we didn’t secure any wins, the fact that in about 3 months (deadline was in Dec.) my students became diligent and dedicated immediately to be nominated for national awards against students in 50 states. That’s outstanding and I’m excited to see how this pushes them to do even more for next year’s awards season.
For corporate radio, I’m always looking for a new challenge. My end-all goal is to either be a podcast executive producer or a programming/music director at a radio station. For teaching, I am in talks with the current colleges I instruct at to develop podcast courses; wildly enough, many schools, unless they are an art school, don’t have a cohesive or that finely developed podcast course load. More jobs are looking for a digitally well-rounded individual and many students have expressed that without audio being in their skill set, they’ve lost gigs. I’m hoping to curb that and show students that audio is back and is important to storytelling, brand development, and an overall creative outlet that is incredibly accessible to begin working on.