Daniel Rayzel is a native of Brazil who came to the U.S. with his family when he was only 3 years old. At 20 now, he is also probably our youngest DJ to be featured. He’s studying journalism with a minor in documentary production at Michigan State.
Bill Frater: Where and when did you start in radio?
Daniel Rayzel: Coming to WDBM marked the start of my interest in radio. It’s a student-run station broadcasting from the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, it’s known as Impact 89FM. I began as a news reporter before joining the Americana program, and I’ve been doing both for over two years now. Student radio definitely has a different dynamic than most other stations (I also interned for the daily news program at Michigan Radio, the state’s public radio) in that there’s still time to make mistakes. And time to wear slipper socks and eat cheesecake with your bare hands and not get asked to leave.
How do you describe your show?
“Progressive Torch and Twang” runs from 8 p.m. to midnight every Tuesday on our station, the only Americana program in the entire week. My co-host Eve and I get full control of programming during these four hours, in which we continue the tradition of embracing new releases – folk, bluegrass, roots rock, and everything in between. Since 1989, this show has kept it fresh by bringing aboard new music every week, and we take a lot of pride in that.
How do you prepare for your shows?
The majority of the show is programmed as we go. I think spontaneity keeps it exciting and keeps us out of a rut. The two preprogrammed exceptions would be our new music segment and Torch Recommends, a feature that spotlights a new or lesser-known artist. The latter takes a bit of time to research the artist, get the album for broadcast, among other things.
What was the first artist or album that got you into roots music?
Back in 2014, there was this compilation put out called Bob Dylan in the ’80s: Volume One. Dylan songs from that period being covered by a fantastic lineup: Langhorne Slim & The Law, Dawn Landes, Ivan & Alyosha, Glen Hansard, Deer Tick … that was my introduction to all of those artists. This album changed my life in a way similar to how Anthology of American Folk Music changed Dylan himself.
What recent albums or artists are you excited about?
Honest Life from Courtney Marie Andrews, my Americana album of the year for 2016. If you have ever experienced love – good or bad or whatever – I hope this album finds a place in your life. The Lostines also released a demo EP last May that I loved. I have a faith in their success as a group that I haven’t felt in years. Keep an ear on them.
What are your most memorable experiences or memories from working in the music industry?
I don’t get to do them as often as I’d like, but interviews always lead me to learn more about both the artist and myself. And I’m thankful to have stayed in touch with many of them through letters and phone calls. Loren Johnson and Monte Pride both come to mind — two Michigan musicians with a lot of kindness and soul. At times, the consoling and advice I receive on and off the microphone goes beyond what I talk about with my closest friends.
Where do you see Americana radio going in the future?
I had the pleasure of meeting Garrison Keillor this past year, and I recall him saying something like this: “You could probably start a show using only musicians who are 25 and younger.” And I think he’s correct. That’s what has kept our show alive for nearly 30 years and I strongly believe that’s the direction other shows should embrace. It’s too easy to slip into the older releases. If we don’t embrace the young, talented artists that are making new music today, who’s to blame when the well runs dry tomorrow?
What inspires you or what keeps you going?
People who love music. Listeners who tell me they bought an album I spun last week and bought tickets to an upcoming show make it all worthwhile. Good sounds are meant to be shared, and I’m happy others feel the same way.