Meet Stephen Kallao, World Cafe’s new Contributing Host

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Stephen Kallao

Meet Stephen Kallao, the new Contributing Host of the World Cafe. He joins Cafe Host Talia Schlanger and contributor David Dye, as the newest member of the WXPN programming team. As Contributing Host, Kallao (pronounced like the band’s name) will assist in producing the program’s radio and digital special features, as well as hosting shows, and conducting interviews.

Kallao is a Chicago native with 20-plus years’ experience in hosting, programming, writing, and production for commercial and noncommercial radio stations, including WYMS and WLUM in Milwaukee; KUFO and KNRK in Portland, OR; and 91X in San Diego. He received multiple Wisconsin Broadcasters Awards, including two for Best Radio Show, among others for Best Interview, Best Specialty Programming, and more. Recently, he was Director of Imaging, Radio Content for online music service Slacker Radio in San Diego.

We asked Stephen to share ten things about himself, so that we could get to know him a bit. Please welcome him to the World Cafe family.

1 – First concert, (w/parents) 1985, Rod Stewart – Every Picture Tells a Story Tour. This was when Rod was big into soccer and began the evening free kicking several balls 30 yards into the crowd. In retrospect, I can’t see anyone being able to do this at a show anymore.

2 – First concert (my choosing) 1993, KMFDM and My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, Chicago Metro. I remember at 14 gripping the wall, being overwhlemed by sweatiness and swaying bodies, pounding synths and distorted guitars. I immediately loved it.

3 – I attended seminary in High School. The higher calling was not for me, thus my transition to the school of rock ‘n roll.

4 – Because I fell in radio when I was 16. Quite literally spilling a fountain drink on a gentleman wearing an “Energy 88-7” t-shirt. Less than 24 hours later, I was an intern. A week later I was answering the request line (a phone number I had dialed often). A month later, I filled in on an overnight show, and never looked back.

5 – (Except for that time I worked in shipping.) After being downsized, I took a part time job in the warehouse of a graphic design company. There’s something really rewarding to look at a palette of boxes being taken away and know that however many dollars of electronic equipment were shipped because you boxed them up. It’s a tangible reward.

6 – You get that feeling in Public Radio, though. At my old home, Radio Milwaukee, there was a real pride helping to be a megaphone for the great non-profits we partnered with. It’s also really, REALLY gratifying to work for your listeners and not advertisers. It’s one of the many reasons I’m excited to be at WXPN and World Cafe.

7 – Favorite Interview – Vince Gill. I am not a country music enthusiast, but I do know Vince Gill might be the most remarkable artist I’ve ever met. He’s a true gentleman, caring and generous. He’s also arguably one of the greatest American guitarists, and has a wise unique perspective on the music industry. He’s a true legend.

8 – Worst Interview – You probably shouldn’t sit down with an enigmatic and reclusive frontman who’s known for making up outright falsities on the spot, while they pitch their boutique wine label and not their latest record (which still hasn’t come out, 8 years later). File under: some musical heroes will disappoint you by being jerks.

9 – My two favorite albums of this decade are 1. A lyrically dense reflective folk country record about addiction, soul searching and redemption (Field Report – Marigolden) and 2. An instrumental amalgamation of post rock and EDM that sounds like the end of the world (65daysofstatic – Wild Light). They couldn’t be sonically more different, but both bring me great joy in dramatically different ways.

10 – My alarm is Paul McCartney telling me to wake up. No, seriously.

10.5 – Misc: Born in Chicago. We’ve got a chip on our shoulder about everything. I hear this will serve me well. I play video games in my free time, and Destiny 2 has taken more of my time than I care to admit (PS4 gamertag: Givingupreality). My Instagram is filled with pictures of skylines, playing cards and cats. Speaking of which, I’m owned by two of them, and they wrote this profile.

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