The SomaFM Team

A small but incredibly talented team of people makes SomaFM happen. Many of the team are volunteers or part-time contractors who are doing this for the love of music rather than the pursuit of money. This is a labor of love first and foremost.

Rusty Hodge, General Manager and Program Director

Rusty is the founder of SomaFM as well as our General Manager and Program Director. He also is the music director for Groove Salad, Secret Agent, Drone Zone, Space Station Soma, Illinois Street Lounge and contributes to Cliqhop.

He got started in radio during high school by operating a neighborhood micropower station, and later started producing daily programs and making them accessible over a telephone hotline. Rusty got involved with computers while managing his college radio station in the early '80s, when he developed software on an Apple II for handling station playlists. His professional experience includes work at radio stations in the Los Angeles area (KWOW and KWIZ), developing software for broadcasters, multimedia, and founding Hodge Interactive to put radio and TV stations on the web. It was only natural that eventually he would start his own internet radio station.

Rusty has been collecting records since the mid '70s, bought his first ambient record in the '80s, and latched onto electronic ambient music right away when it started first appearing in the early '90s. Many of the records in his collection are now out of print and extremely hard to find. With the launch of SomaFM in 2000, Rusty's dream of his own station became a reality.

Elise Nordling, Music Director, Indie Pop Rocks! & Folk Forward

Elise Nordling came to SomaFM as the Music Director and DJ for Indie Pop Rocks! in 2001. Drawing on her many varied years of experience in the music industry, which include having worked as a record shop girl, music editor and reviewer, music festival employee, and for a digital music distributor, her passion for indie rock finds a perfect home at SomaFM.   Well-known within the San Francisco live music scene and indie rock scenes in general, she prides herself in finding the best new bands and artists to air on Indie Pop Rocks! long before they can be heard anywhere else.

In early 2015, Elise took over programming for Folk Forward, after the departure of founding music director Sean E. Sullivan.

Roy Batchelor, Music Director, Boot Liquor

Roy Batchelor stumbled upon the format that comprises Boot Liquor via a circuitous route. Graduating from High School in the late '70s, radio stations throughout the country labeled his beloved music "classic rock" and conspired to play the same damn 20 songs over and over until he screamed in pain and was forced to find a new musical home. Fortunately, he discovered The Beat Farmers and, while mining all their various influences, realized that "country music" had been given an undeserved bad rap. Boot Liquor is proud to serve up songs about life, death, misery, broken hearts and broken bones.

Nitya, Music Director, Sonic Universe

Nitya is originally from Minneapolis but has lived in Seattle for over 30 years. He grew up in a home where jazz music was always playing, and began collecting jazz albums at age 12.

Most of the music on Sonic Universe comes from Nitya's personal collection. In addition to his large CD library, he's developed relationships with artists who have provided him with rare live soundboard recordings. He attends local jazz festivals (Portland, Vancouver BC) and also regularly attends the Punkt Festival in Kristiansand, Norway. 

Fiona Ritchie, Music Director and Host, ThistleRadio

Fiona Ritchie MBE may be best known as the producer and host of The Thistle & Shamrock, an hour-long Celtic music program that airs weekly throughout the United States on National Public Radio. She has also produced several CD compilations and authored a 2005 volume on Celtic music for the NPR Curious Listener's Guide book series. In 2014, Wayfaring Strangers, her major book and CD chronicling the musical voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia, was published by UNC Press.

Ritchie was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2014 Queen's Birthday Honours for services to broadcasting and traditional Scottish music.

Mark Lüntzel, Music Director

Mark Lüntzel is an old-school metalhead, with a voracious appetite for new material as well. With deep roots in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles metal communities, Mark brings the metal to the pedal. He is consistently amazed at the propensity for underground metal to stay alive and thrive.

Other than curating the Metal Detector channel, Mark likes to build server stacks and plays guitar in a band. Also into hockey and reptiles.

Dion Watts Garcia, Seven Inch Soul Music Director

Dion Watts Garcia has been a tour manager, artist manager, small independent label owner and worked for music business trade publications since the late 1980s when he transitioned from the military to fighting the good fight for bands throughout North America and Europe. Soul and specifically The Oldies, took root in Dion's life in the 70s as a young travieso in Fresno.

Spinning records became a passion for him in the late 90s at clubs and pubs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Highlights of his record playing career include multiple tours of Europe with the band The InCiters as one of two nightly DJs and also nearly being crushed by a falling body outside of The Mad Dog In The Fog.

Milkman, Music Director, The Trip

Milkman's love of music started early in life. Constantly surrounded by the coma inducing music played by his parents, at the age of 10 a friend played a tape recording of WBMX, the radio station in not too distant Chicago. Having heard the frequency, he was able to get the family stereo to pick up the signal, and soon learned of the "Mix at Six," "After Eight," and of course the Friday and Saturday Night Live mixes. Every day now centered around these times and headphones. Sadly, the driving station of house music changed formats and started playing "oldies and dusties." A dark period ensued, the closest sound that could be found in the small college hometown was rap.... until the turn of millennium led to freedom again as a friend introduced a new concept called mp3 streams...and Milkman stumbled upon one stream in particular, Tag's Trip. Over the years, Tag would rely on Milkman to feed him great new music, and eventually Tag decided to retire and "pass the needle" to Milkman.

As life has gone on, The Trip has continued to be the source of motivation, energy, and joy, knowing how many other people are listening, sharing the love of music.

Shawn Blosser, Music Director, Beat Blender

Shawn Blosser started BeatBlender in the waning days of the dotcom boom of the late 1990's. Coworkers loved the music he played in his office at work and in response to their enthusiasm, Shawn set up an office Shoutcast server so they could enjoy his musical selections around the clock. After a few months of independent operation, BeatBlender became a regular channel on SomaFM. All the music on BeatBlender is handpicked from Shawn's extensive private collection of CDs.

Ted Leibowitz, Music Director & Host, BAGeL Radio and 480 Minutes

Ted began DJing in his teens at nightclubs and college radio which led into promoting, booking, and managing bands, releasing records on his own label, and managing night clubs. After relocating to San Francisco, internet radio brought Ted back to his entertainment industry roots: DJing and bringing new music the to music-buying public. In early 2003 Ted launched BAGeL Radio to share his enviable music collection with the world (and to convey simple views like, "Media consolidation: bad. BAGeL Radio: good.").

Ted was twice honored with the College Music Journal (CMJ) Specialty Music Director of the Year Award, making BAGeL Radio the first internet radio station to win a CMJ award at the annual CMJ Music Marathon Awards in New York City. BAGeL Radio has been nominated as Best Online Station at the 2008 PLUG Awards. Ted was featured on the "Invasion of the New Media" panel at the CMJ NMM alongside representatives from ClearChannel, XM, and Sirius, and moderated a similar panel at the NEMO Music Festival in Boston. BAGeL Radio was honored with the Best Live Show award at the Best Of Live365 Awards.

Michael Koperwas, Music Director, Covers

Michael's interest in covers started at a young age, and like all great things in life, should be attributed to the Simpsons. Sometimes it's a song that you always thought was the original, only to learn that it too is a cover; other times it's an entirely new take on a beloved standard or a respun pop tune.

Originally from Fort Lauderdale, Michael moved to SF a while back for a job in special effects: faking planet explosions and building giant furry green crab-lobster creatures. If you look closely, you might see his name in the credits for some of those fancy special-effect movies. (After all, he's got to pay the bills somehow.)

Jason Dryg, Music Research Librarian and Listener Relations

If you send something to SomaFM, or get something in the mail from SomaFM, Jason has probably touched it. He manages our 9000+ CD physical library and our even larger digital library. He's the assistant music director for Underground 80s and is also responsible for helping with many other channels at SomaFM.

Jason loves to down obscure, hard to find music. This is quite apparent on Underground 80s where Jason travels through the dark recesses of music blogs and collector message boards to find amazing artists that time forgot (or at least misplaced).

Apart from SomaFM, Jason is an artist and illustrator and a rabid vinyl collector.

Merin McDonell, Design and Marketing Director

Merin has been involved in SomaFM from its inception, working on logo design, web design, station logos, photography, marketing materials, press materials, and more. Who knew that hours spent in bars and clubs, listening to music and dancing, would actually turn out to be work experience? Merin's professional experience also includes work for McKinsey & Company, NASA Ames Research Center, and several internet start-ups.

Contributors

Jim Bilodeau, Imaging Producer

Jim has been toying with audio since he was a wee tyke trying to eat the microphone attached to his grandfather's camcorder in 1982. He's since been a slave to his ears. From performing in various musical ensembles in and around the Adirondack Mountains in northern New York to a Bachelors degree in Music Production from the Hartt School of Music in West Hartford, CT, he's fortunately kept to a strict diet of transistors, compressors, encoders and transducers. He currently resides in New York City.



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