Volume One Special Coverage: Pulling Together While Staying Apart

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Local Listening

duo’s relaxed radio news show celebrates one year

by Zack Katz, photos by Andrea Paulseth

JEANS AND MICROPHONES. Scott Morfitt, left, and Luke Hoppe are the guys behind WHYS-FM’s Local Show.
JEANS AND MICROPHONES. Scott Morfitt, left, and Luke Hoppe are
the guys behind WHYS-FM’s Local Show.

“Luke?”

“Hey Scott.”

One surefire constant of Luke Hoppe and Scott Morfitt’s Local Show is a familiar greeting  followed by hushed, tongue-in-cheek philosophical questions, like: “How exactly can a radio host be too self important?” This campy lightheartedness is a ritual before ringing in the usual gusto of their community radio program.

The Local Show is fresh off a hangover from celebrating its first birthday on April 8 and (seemingly to the amusement of both hosts) championing the title of longest running local news segment on WHYS (96.3FM), Eau Claire’s community radio station.

Snippets of familiar-sounding tunes, an area news topic paired with discussion and interviews will complete the recipe for any given program, which are recorded weekly in a rightfully central South Farwell setting.

“We’re people talking, not particularly experts on the news. … We aim to share what we know with the community.” – Scott Morfitt, co-host of The Local Show on WHYS Radio

“There’s – by very direct choice – a lot of ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ and humanity in our vocals  instead of this mastered ‘King’s English,’ ” Morfitt said. “We’re people talking, not particularly experts on the news. … We aim to share what we know with the community.”

The program’s brambly authenticity, according to the duo, could be a lasting product of roughly half a year spent smoothing out their kinks; knowing what sort of comment might come next from one another.

Important to note is the distinguishing “secondhand source” news presentation of the WHYS segment which, nodding to their freeform template, takes place in varying timeframes and show lengths. Morfitt boasts Eau Claire’s journalism community is rich enough. Their aim instead is to promote conversation and understanding rather than taking on the job of informing primarily done by way of the Leader-Telegram and the healthy saturation of other outlets. Among their most compelling stories, Morfitt says, have been the raw-milk related outbreak in Durand and the saga of Old Order Amish people fighting eviction, while interview subjects have ranged from City Council members to hall-of-fame athletes.

Scott and Luke say they’ve had their fill of covering Eau Claire’s art and music scene in other platforms (including this publication), and so The Locals Show’s interest falls more in line with city government, people, and hot topics of the present. Art has its way of informing the program, though.

In the place of introduction and transition come snippets of songs from area musicians such as Sloslylove and Softly, Dear to provide a decorative fixture for the program.

“Featuring an artist from the Chippewa Valley is kind of like a linchpin in solidifying that ‘yes,’ we’re focusing primarily on this area,” Hoppe said.

It might count as cheating on their goal to abstain from art subject matter, but a symbiotic relationship forming out of these contacts is the “After Local” post-show segment the duo are experimenting with to interview musicians who play throughout The Local Show.

So, who’s hearing the program? A hodgepodge of all of us, really. The team says midnight, for example, is a strangely opportune time for WHYS because restaurants are listening in while closing their kitchen, delivery drivers are out, and cabs in circulation.

“The biggest criticism I’ve heard is we’re very journalistic, which … thank you?” Morfitt says, laughing. “People initially wanted us to ask the grating, controversial questions when in reality we’re just trying to share the good story of Eau Claire.”

Tune into The Local Show on WHYS-FM (96.3) in Eau Claire at 5pm Tuesdays. Segments from the show also run between other programs all day long. Learn more at www.facebook.com/TheLocalShowEC or whyslocalnews@gmail.com

Lasker Jewelers
Lasker Jewelers

Pulling Together Partners

The following organizations are currently supporting Volume One’s work in the community during the pandemic:

Lasker Jewelers

L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, Eau Claire

Downtown Eau Claire Inc DECI

University of Wisconsin Eau Claire

Pablo Group

Wisconsin Independent Network

Middle West Management

Bon Iver

Royal Credit Union

Silver Spring

Evergreen Surgical

Charter Bank

Chippewa Valley Technical College

The Murty Henriksen Family

The Larry and Marie Past Family

The Dan and Kerry Kincaid Family

Anton and Rae Schilling-Smets

Brady and Jeanne Foust

If your organization is interested in supporting Volume One during this difficult time, nick@volumeone.orgcontact us.