#Current10 Memories: Jill Riley and Steve Seel

Steve Seel
Steve Seel and Jill Riley broadcast live on the MPR stage at the Minnesota State Fair in 2013. (MPR / Nate Ryan)

Jill Riley: When I first started working at The Current, I was commuting from St. Cloud. Those were weird days. I was like, "Maybe they'll can me right away, so I probably shouldn't move here." People in the building were so welcoming, though: Gary Eichten's wife helped me find a house, and Steve Nelson was like, "Make sure it's a safe neighborhood!"

Steve Seel: When Dale and Jim Ed ended their Morning Show, I was put in as morning host. When Jim McGuinn got here, he was like, "You seem too mellow for a morning show. You need a partner." I'd been hosting since December, and Jill was supposed to join on the Monday after Easter.

Jill Riley: Then, that weekend, I broke my leg in a roller derby accident. I was laying in the hospital bed doped up on morphine, and I was like, I'd better call Jim. I called and said, "I can't start on the Morning Show tomorrow." He said, "Why?" I said, "I'm about to go into surgery."

I was supposed to take two weeks to recuperate, but I was going stir-crazy, so I started earlier. My leg was broken, not my mouth — so that was our messy launch. Steve would pick me up in the morning, and I'd be waiting on the curb. I'd try to hold off on the Percocet each day until we got off the air. I was crutching around the studio with news copy in my mouth.

Steve Seel: As far as interviews, when we had Janelle Monae in, we were so starstruck — that's the only time we've clammed up in front of an artist. She's just a red giant of charisma and talent.

Jill Riley: She recorded all her songs before the interview started, so we saw her perform first. We saw how great they were, and we couldn't speak.

Steve Seel: We started doing the interview, and fortunately it wasn't being broadcast live. We just had to stop in the middle and say, "We're really nervous." She said, "It's okay. Would you like a hug?"

Jill Riley: We said yes.

Another memorable day was when I went to Bonnaroo to host a live broadcast of the Flaming Lips' performance. Mac Wilson was back at the studio, and he's pretty good with the dump button — the button you press to delete a swear word before it goes out over the air.

It was so bad, though. Right out of the gate, Wayne Coyne was like, "What's up, motherf---ers?!" I was like, here we go. Eventually I had a headphone on one ear and a phone on the other, and I'd tell Mac when to pull the broadcast and fill the space with something else. I'd be listening to the stage, saying, "Keep filling, keep filling," and Mac would be talking about some sports game that was happening that night.

Eventually the broadcast ended, and Mac called and left a message on my phone saying, "You're dead, talk to you later." He meant the feed was dead, but I was like, yeah, I am.

Steve Seel: One of my favorite things is making Jill laugh. Traditionally she's the one who says funny things and I'm the announcer guy, but if I can say something that makes Jill laugh, it makes my week. When she gives a big belly laugh, I think, okay, that must have been actually funny. One time, Jill cracked up and we were both having such a laughing fit that she had to hide behind the monitor.

Jill Riley: I didn't want him to mess up reading the underwriting message.

Steve Seel: When the State Fair comes, Mark Wheat and Mary Lucia do their shows at the normal times, and we go out to do a show on a Saturday afternoon.

There's a guy named Rupert who likes to start dancing in the middle of music shows, and one year during our show he just stood up and started dancing. It became insanely magical, because a huge crowd started dancing along with him, and eventually centered around this five-year-old kid with amazingly slick moves. We hadn't expected anything like that, and we were getting on the intercom with Mac Wilson, who was running the board back at the studio — we were going, "Keep playing songs! Find another danceable song!" When the spontaneous dance party ended, the kid just disappeared back into the crowd.

Another great experience was being able to interview Brian Eno and put it on a morning show...it was like, what drive-time radio show gets to do that? That's probably a career highlight for me in terms of meeting an artist who's truly inspirational.

Jill Riley: We have a morning show on a music station, so it's for the most part centered on music.

Steve Seel: We do talk about food, dining, movies, and pop culture, but it's primarily about music. We want to get silly, but we don't want to get stupid.

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