The Appetizer is Hungry for Connection

The Appetizer

LCC Radio is all about Michigan music, but we do make room in our schedule for some quality syndicated programs. Here on the blog, we’ll talk a little bit about each of our shows.

“We’re all in a perpetual state of discovery,” says host of The Appetizer, D. Grant Smith. This program out of Abilene, Texas, celebrated its tenth anniversary in September 2013. The Anniversary Show featured in-studio sessions from William Fitzsimmons,George Pendergrass, and Elliott Park, with music from artists like Iron & Wine, The Civil Wars, Ingrid Michaelson, and Clarensau making its way onto the playlist.

If those names are familiar to you, Smith stresses that one of his goals is to give airtime to songs people haven’t heard. He has a passion for introducing his audience to rising artists, deeper cuts, and B-sides.

“What I set out to do in 2003, and I continue to do , is to put things on the radio that wouldn’t otherwise be there,” he says. He wants to give your imagination a ride.

When you listen to The Appetizer, food metaphors abound–songs are delectable, savory, sweet–but Smith says he doesn’t keep a thesaurus of food-related words, and sheepishly admits to trying to back off on food metaphors. He tries to keep things . . . fresh. Though not a foodie himself, his wife keeps a charming blog about life and cooking: Keeping Up With Mrs. Smith.

The Appetizer is syndicated on thirteen stations, and has social media accounts as well as a blog. While the show is nobody’s full-time job, a cast of ten people are involved with its production and publicity, with a handful of people writing for The Appetizer BlogThe Appetizer is now produced in a co-op space after getting its start while Smith was still a student at Abilene Christian University and working at public radio station KACU (Fun fact: KACU also broadcasts at 89.7FM, just like WLNZ). Smith was at KACU for thirteen years but recently moved on to a software development company.

Getting a show like The Appetizer on the air is a lot of work, with intellectual property and licensing issues the team needs to stay on top of, in addition to marketing and maintaining relationships with partner stations while also doing the actual production work. Smith has learned the nitty-gritty details of the radio business from the ground up. Putting together a show, though, “is playtime.”

You might expect that the host of a syndicated show would be focused on getting placed on more stations across the country, but Smith is concentrating instead on the quality of connection with his audience. He wants an engaged audience, with a constant back and forth about the music people love.To achieve that end, The Appetizer is moving towards having more regular content. Not just the radio show, but also video, blogging, and social media efforts. The Appetizer regularly asks for feedback.

It’s a smart business strategy that also appeals to his love of community building. The digitization of music means that radio is far from the first place people hear music. By positioning The Appetizer as a go-to destination for conversation about music, he is keeping the show relevant in an era where logarithms dominate the music world.

And D. Grant Smith has a request for you: get in touch. Tell The Appetizer which Michigan artists are your favorite.

The Appetizer airs on LCC Radio WLNZ, Tuesdays from 3-5 AM and Saturdays from 11PM-midnight. You can tune into 89.7FM in the Lansing, Michigan area or you can listen online at WLNZ programming is also available on smartphones through the Live365 app.