The Arts

A DJ Makes Good

Bruce Ravid ’74 propelled a stint in UW radio to a career in the music industry.

Black and white photo of Bruce Ravid with members of the band The Knack

Ravid (center) with The Knack, whom he helped develop along with Iron Maiden, Duran Duran, and “Weird Al” Yankovic. Courtesy of Bruce Ravid

As a DJ and music director for UW–Madison radio station WSRM, the predecessor to WSUM, Bruce Ravid ’74 helped increase its visibility while putting his stamp on the music played in the early ’70s.

“I used to joke with people that I majored in college radio and minored in business at the UW,” says Ravid, who was music director at the station for three years. That experience allowed him to get to know Capitol Records, which offered him a radio-promoter job in Chicago while he was a senior. He spent the next five years there, reveling in the opportunity to discover and play emerging bands on the radio.

He then transitioned to a managerial position, where he helped develop a variety of musical artists, including The Knack, Iron Maiden, Duran Duran, and “Weird Al” Yankovic.

One of his favorite memories is pitching Yankovic’s parody cover of The Knack’s “My Sharona” to Capitol. First, he needed to run it by the band. As the group’s tour bus was parked in front of Memorial Union during a Madison gig, he recalls The Knack members erupting in laughter when he shared “My Bologna.” “That was the beginning of what’s been an amazing career for ‘Weird Al,’ ” Ravid says.

Recently, he’s returned to his DJ roots. In addition to a radio show, Go Deep with Bruce Rave, he has a weekly podcast called Rave’s Indie Radar. The 20-minute episodes feature indie rock tracks selected from well-known and emerging artists. “If I can get some other people to really like this song or like this artist, it still feels great to me,” he says.

He credits the late Dave Black MA’03, the general manager of WSUM for 26 years, for his renewed interest in radio. In 2008, Black asked Ravid to host “these eight-hour marathons, although since I would call myself Bruce Rave on the air, we called them Ravathons. I developed this great love for being back on the air behind the microphone,” he says.

That led to his developing his own radio show on several stations, including WSUM and Monona, Wisconsin’s WVMO. He later received an offer from Snippet.FM to do a podcast version of his show.

He hopes his career provides inspiration for others.

“I always tell students, ‘Once your grades are sorted out, find something that you’re really passionate about, because it just might lead to a career you weren’t anticipating,’ ” he says.

Published in the Winter 2022 issue


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