‘My Way’ rings true as Mary Lucia signs at 89.3 the current for the last time
In the end, it was classic Looch: a bit of self-mockery and subtle snark mixed with very unsubtle songs from the New York Dolls, Guided by Voices, Motörhead and some of the coolest rock ‘n’ rollers around. all. weather.
Thursday’s airing of Mary Lucia, however, was also filled with gratitude, uncharacteristically melancholy and – only at the very end – tears as 89.3 the Current’s flagship jockey signed for good .
“It always amazes me how much love I have for people I don’t know,” the Twin Cities radio vet told listeners as she also showed her love for a wide range of music during of his last shift of the four o’clock afternoon.
The town’s latest rock DJ who was a rock star herself, Lucia kicked off her show with Keith Richards’ solo classic “Take It So Hard.” As Thursday also marked the sixth anniversary of Prince’s passing, she joked, “I’m out before [Richards’ death] can happen.”
His shift also ended to the tune of Richards: The Rolling Stones’ “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)” was his finale. Other artists she encountered ranged from iconic, empowered women such as Dolly Parton, Mavis Staples, Cher and Etta James to unsung rock and punk pioneers such as Stiff Little Fingers, Sweet, the Dead Kennedys and T. Rex to newer favorites like Spoon, Kathleen Edwards, Starcrawler and Jenny Lewis.
Here and there, Lucia also dropped songs whose titles and lyrics seemed to respond to the circumstances of her departure: “Crawling From the Wreckage” by Dave Edmunds, “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke, “My Way” by Frank Sinatra and the “IOU” anthem of his brother Paul Westerberg’s band, The Replacements – a family connection that Lucia never mentioned on air during her 17 years at the Current.
The one that really stood out as a sore middle finger, however, was Margo Price’s “Pay Gap.”
A prominent local figure dating back to her days at REV-105 during the ’90s alt-rock boom, Lucia didn’t share a single bad word about her employer during Thursday’s shift. She did, however, voice some grievances on social media.
In posts on Facebook and Instagram, Lucia cited the fight for “fairness and fair treatment for all my sisters at the station” as the reason for the rather abrupt announcement on Tuesday that she would be quitting the stream.
“I have been trying for years to bring about positive change in the company,” she wrote, addressing the colleagues she leaves behind: “Know your worth, embrace your unique talent and voice and elevate one another.”
Lucia’s comments prompted Jean Taylor, the new president and CEO of Current’s nonprofit parent company, American Public Media, to commit to taking action.
“I am strongly committed to creating and sustaining a diverse, inclusive and equitable environment where all employees, including women and people of color, are respected and valued,” wrote Taylor, former chair of the board of directors of Star Tribune and daughter of its owner, Glen Taylor.
As blatant as Price’s “pay gap” is directed at his former bosses, Lucia’s exit appears to mark a calamitous mess for the public, member-backed station that should have been avoided at all costs.
The Stream has not only counted Lucia as its most visible and beloved DJ – listeners across the cities have compared her departure to losing a friend on social media – the station relies entirely on women to his weekday shifts. Newcomer Ayisha Jaffer just started Monday as the 6-10 p.m. weekday host, while Jill Riley hosts the morning show and Jade Tittle (who the station promoted to music director last year) serves the lunch shift.
Riley is now one of only two OG DJs remaining since the Current’s inception in 2005, alongside Bill DeVille.
If Lucia’s concerns about fairness are not addressed by the mainstream, and soon, the listener-backed station could sacrifice the credibility it must maintain with its audience. But personality is another important aware factor that takes a big hit.
As corporate FM radio stations nationwide have reduced their on-air staff to skeletal crews with robotic jockeys – many not even working in the city where they are broadcast – Lucia has paved the way for the current is less fused, more local, more personal, more rebellious and simply entertaining. She was brimming with enthusiasm for music and personality between songs, whether it was discussing her pug dogs and annual trips to New York or telling funny stories about Oasis or Tom Waits or just talking of the time in a love/hate way that was utterly Minnesotan.
A few examples on Thursday: She played one of Prince’s longest classics, “DMSR,” not just to commemorate but also because “I’m going to develop a UTI [urinary tract infection] if I don’t go to the bathroom.” She chose the Walkmen’s urgent rocker “The Rat,” she said, “as a getaway song in case I turn to liquor store robbery. “
As for her daily pick “No Apologies,” she shot the Eagles’ “Heartache Tonight” and cited as one she’d never played. It sounded like she was bragging.
Before handing over the airwaves to Lucia on Thursday — with Tina Turner’s “The Best” as her transition song — Tittle cast Lucia as a mentor and heroine for the station’s young DJs.
“I keep thinking: you’re only as strong as your weakest link,” Tittle said, “but here in the know, Mary is so good at what she does…it made us all a little better.”
While continually reiterating her love for the job during Thursday’s shift, Lucia made it clear that she believes her life will improve after signing. She said off the air that she hoped to write a book or two and do some voice-over work.
“It’s not terribly romantic or deep, but I’ve always said things work until they don’t,” she said as her airtime ended.
Before letting the Stones serenade her, Lucia ended by noting how proud she was of her work at the Current.
“I have never looked for external affirmation of what I do. [or] I desperately need someone to tell me, ‘You’re really good at this,'” she said. “But these last few days, hearing you, I know I’ve made a difference. It doesn’t matter if the company or management doesn’t feel the same.”