KISL’s Meet the Voice
Ben Vaughn only listens to one genre of music: good. He takes that eclectic taste and shares it on the Many Moods of Ben Vaughn every Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights at 8 p.m. Vaughn has a long musical history and he draws from that to create a new way to hear music—next to other music that you would find on the opposite side of the record store from each other—and it works. Meet the Voice checked in with Vaughn to see what he sounds like when he’s not surrounded by fantastic music (spoiler alert: he still sounds great).
KISL: How did you get your start in radio?
Vaughn: I’ve been a radio fanatic since I was a kid. Then later with WXPN in Philadelphia I had a chance to be one of the first contributors to a show they have called World Cafe that was in 1992.
KISL: Can you explain the title of your show?
Vaughn: It describes my musical tastes, all over the map. It doesn’t matter what decade, style or tempo, I am a fan of all good music. It is a good title because no one can complain if it is too diverse, I just direct them to the title. You may not like one mood, and you may find many you do.
KISL: Where do you find the music for your show?
Vaughn: I’ve been a record collector all my life. I scout record stores, flea markets, online, wherever. I see myself as a curator as well as a host. I’ve been reading about the history of popular music my whole life, and I have a good memory of where, when, who a record came from, so I fill up the show time with that information.
KISL: What is an interesting discovery you have made for your show?
Vaughn: The free-form nature of my show on paper sounds chaotic, but I have a long career in music so I have a feel for how the music fits together. It may look weird as a playlist, but when you listen to it, it makes sense, even if you don’t know why. I’m always discovering segues- Nat King Cole following the Rolling Stones- if it is the right time of the hour and the right song, it works. I like to play sleek recordings alongside some ’60s-distorted reggae, a nasty lo-fi recording, and it sounds magical when surrounded by the right cleanly-produced stuff.
KISL: Do you have a genre of music that you gravitate to on/off the air?
Vaughn: It is exactly the same as you hear on the air. That is why I started my show, because I hadn’t heard anything on the radio like this.
KISL: What is your musical background?
Vaughn: I started putting records out in the early ‘80s as the Ben Vaughn Combo. Then I put out a bunch of solo albums, which sold a lot in Europe, so I toured there a bit. Then I came to LA and composed a lot of music for television—“3rd Rock From the Sun,” “That 70’s Show.” The hit TV show changed everything, it took me out of the music business for a while, then when I got back into the music it was totally different, then I found radio as an opportunity to do my own show.
KISL: You often state that you are surrounded by music during your show, do you prefer vinyl, CD, 8-track, digital, etc.?
Vaughn: I have everything at my fingertips: vinyl, CD, I do have 8-track tapes and a player. For me my favorite place to listen to music is my car (while) driving. I’m not as romantic about format, because there is no record player in the car. I don’t really care as long as it is music I like. Being too allegiant to one format is kind of missing the point. Whether it is a song on your home stereo system or at the dry cleaners a good song will come through no matter what. If you put me on hold and it is a good song, that will be my current favorite format.
KISL: How did you get involved with KISL?
Vaughn: A fan of my show e-mailed me that he listened to KISL from San Pedro and he told me that I needed to get a show on this station because they can give a lot of freedom. I love the idea of doing a show from Catalina Island, it seems really romantic to me, to imagine people floating in boats listening.
KISL: What advice would you give someone who has a collection of music and wants to start their own show?
Vaughn: Spend as much time in front of the mic as you can until you find your own voice. Play the music you love and do not be shy about showing the love for the music when you talk, it is infectious to hear someone talk about their love of a record.
KISL: Is it difficult to produce a show off site of the KISL studio?
Vaughn: No, it works for me. I am in my own world. The show I produce is prerecorded and it helps me focus on the music that makes people feel like they are in the same room together.
KISL: (Question we ask everyone—courtesy of Sarah L.): If you were in a white room with no windows or doors, and the walls were of an infinite height, what song would you listen to in order to lift you out of the room?
Vaughn: Into the Mystic by Van Morrison. Works every time.
To get involved with KISL or to learn more about getting your own show on the air call (424) 226-2837 (HAHA-BOATER) or e-mail Jordan Monroe the Community Outreach director- firstname.lastname@example.org.