Wu-ing the listener through social media
Hilary filmed Lenny’s show March 28.
Not many radio shows would play Canadian indie bands like Braids and Hey Ocean! alongside Cantopop musicians like Leslie Cheung, but not many radio hosts are like Lenny Wu.
Wu, 32, writes and hosts a show called Wildworks on Carleton’s campus-based radio station, CKCU. In 2007, he graduated with a degree in political science and a minor in Canadian studies. Upon graduating, Wu found the job market tough to crack and opted to get involved with volunteering for CKCU.
“I’ve grown up listening to it all my life,” he says. “I’ve always wanted to do something with radio.”
Wildworks is a partially-live radio show about the Canadian indie music scene. It airs on Wednesday mornings at 11 a.m.
Prior to volunteering at CKCU, Wu listened to Internet radio stations like CBC Radio 3 online, which ultimately sparked an interest in Canadian music.
“I took Canadian studies, so I guess that kind of helped me to get a feel for it, to understand more about Canada and its music scene,” Wu says. “When CBC Radio 3 launched on the web, that helped me out too.”
Wu began his show in October 2009, though he had previously been involved with CKCU in 2008. Since then, he has been nominated for various music blogging awards. Most recently, Wu’s Wildworks blog won an award from the Canadian Weblog Awards for “Best Weblog About Music.”
He typically pre-records part of his show an hour or so before Wildworks goes live. He also streams part of his show on his blog.
Wu says the only challenges he encounters while preparing his show are technical — he says he’s never had a problem with finding ways to “fill the air.”
Apart from length and show time, Wu says he isn’t faced with many restrictions when it comes to the show’s content.
“I try to be careful with the swearing. I just cut it or bleep it,” Wu says. “I was interviewing a band, and one of the members said the band’s [full] name. He was like, ‘Oh, am I supposed to say that?’ and I was like, ‘Um, no.’ But he corrected it and said the censored name.”
And what was the name of that band?
“Oh, they’re called Fucked Up,” Wu replies, with a slight smile on his face.
Like many radio presenters, Wu is very connected to various social media realms. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr — you name it, Wu probably has an account.
“Back in class ages ago, people were talking about Facebook, so I joined and ended up adding so many people on my Facebook, who were in my class,” Wu says. “I guess I just try to get people to listen in on my show through social media . . . I tweet whoever I play on the air.”
Wu says he’d like to eventually establish himself professionally in the radio industry, either “behind-the-scenes or producing” radio shows. He cites Hong-Kong radio DJ/presenter Alyson Hau, as well as Canadian television and radio personality George Stroumboulopoulos, as radio presenters he admires.
Like his radio idols, Wu interviews bands for segments on his show. He typically meets bands on location at their shows and records the interview there, before bringing it back to CKCU and editing it for the program.
Though Wu usually meets and interviews bands when they come to Ottawa, he does occasionally travel to Montreal for Wildworks.
“The Montreal music scene is really nice,” Wu says. “I usually go up there for their POP Montreal music festival in September.”
It’s been over two years since Wildworks first aired, but Wu admits he still gets a bit anxious before interviews.
“I get nervous interviewing bands, but then it becomes magic. They open up later on, and they just feel comfortable,” Wu says. “It just becomes magic.”