You've heard them on air. Maybe you've seen them post on Facebook. But who are they really? Staff writer Leila Srouji sits down with INHAILER's best to find out what makes them tick. It's time to Meet the DJ!
If you grew up with a Zenith console stereo cabinet, it’s pretty much a guarantee you love music, as long as you were paying attention. And our newest DJ, Luann (maybe better known as Miss Kitty), was all-ears.
Growing up in a small village between Cincinnati and Dayton, music was the great escape for her family. Her grandpa taught shape-note singing. A friend of her uncle, Jimmie Skinner, was a hillbilly bluegrass singer who recorded for Decca, Mercury, Capital, and King Records, and every time the gang got together, he and all of her uncles would pull out their guitars.
For her third birthday, Luann received a transistor radio; one year later, when she turned four, she got a close’n’play record player. She claims she could recognize record labels before she could read what was printed on them. Whenever her sister would leave for school, Luann would move in to raid her record collection. It’s obvious that Luann has always had a connection with music. More and more I’ve realized that small-town Ohio can do that to a person - make them fall in love with cultures and genres outside of their world.
Of course, Luann listened to the classics growing up, like The Beatles and Elton John, but when she got a little older and more independent, she began to fall for stuff like Blondie, the Talking Heads, Devo, and Television. Art rock was quickly becoming her thing, and 1978 was an influential year for her record collection.
Between recording albums on cassettes to exchange with friends, Luann and other locals into art rock began regularly taping sets from a little radio station out of Oxford known as WOXR. Luann strung antennae all over her bedroom and kept the dial turned to the station every day. Then one year, 1982 to be exact, the station became 97X WOXY, “The Future of Rock ‘n’ Roll.”
Because of her passion for music and her interest in writing and radio, Luann’s father funded her pursuit of a mass communication degree from Wright State. During her time there, she worked at a mom-and-pop record shop in Dayton; by the time she’d finished working there, she had been slinging records for twelve years!
She also joined the campus radio station, WWSU. For her, it was “a revelation” to discover an entire network of like-minded people who all loved “new wave and modern rock.” Luann told me that she knew she had found her home at the station when she walked in “to find two guys debating the merits of Thirsty Ear versus Throbbing Lobster.”
She could keep up with them, too, and when I asked Luann how she felt about being a female in radio, she said she felt she earned some respect in that regard. Moreover, women like Robin Plan, Michelle Topham, and Lyn McKenzie, all of whom DJ’d at 97X, were great influences. They helped give her the courage to walk through the door at WWSU and ask how she could become a DJ. She was given the opportunity and jumped at it. Her first slot was 9 PM to midnight. Radio was everything at that time, so Luann was living and breathing it 24/7.
Fast forward thirty years or so: Luann went on to have her own specialty show on 97X, Back to the Future. Those women she looked up to in her teenage years? Now she’s one of them! Currently you can find Luann writing for the Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati.com. When she isn’t typing away for major Cincinnati publications or DJing at INHAILER, she is probably hanging out with her cat, Twiggy Stardust Rock ‘n’ Roll Supermodel Kitty, hence her DJ-name.
Luann told me that she loves traveling, genealogy, and watching football (“the Beautiful Game, not that American game with the weird-shaped ball”). I asked her what her favorite thing about life was and her answer had me in one of those super mystical moods for the rest of the day: “That I’m still a part of it.”
Luann has this amazingly keen memory of her life and I’m now convinced it is because every moment had a theme song. But don’t get her wrong, the background music is not coming from over-the-air radio because, quite frankly, “who needs to hear fucking Journey for the hundred millionth time?”
“Music nerds never die, and stations like INHAILER are there to carry the torch college radios lit back in the ‘80s,” she told me. You can catch Miss Kitty’s show lighting up the INHAIL-waves when you visit www.inhailer.com or download the INHAILER Radio app. Who knows, if you pay attention long enough, you might end up accrediting Luann as your inspiration to become a DJ.
Catch Luann Gibbs, or as she's better known, DJ Miss Kitty, every Saturday and Sunday from 11 to 3 on INHAILER Radio.