Riverwest Radio Is No Joke
The “Levity Radio” show captures the city’s growing comedy scene.
There’s something about the Riverwest neighborhood and its community-oriented Riverwest Radio. Though a small slice of the city, the neighborhood boasts many of the city’s comedians, musicians and entertainers.
A key outlet is Riverwest Film and Video on 824 East Center Street, a small video store that features a tiny radio-station in the corner, up against a window that practically broadcasts to the passers-by. Among other things, the station features what was originally “The Killer Radio Show,” hosted by Caste of Killers alumnus Steve Breese, Eric Thorson, Jason Hillman, and Ryan Mason.
This was a comedy-based radio show that interviewed local talent – bands, community representatives, and small business owners/employees,” says Breese, currently an Associate Producer for Milwaukee Comedy, as well as a standup comedian.
But the show couldn’t go on. “We stopped for a few reasons … mostly because we all had some other projects or personal conflicts happening,” Breese says. And so the show was passed on to a new cast: Breese and company tapped local and upcoming standup comedians Josh Ballew, KC Michelson and Nate Seek to take over.
“The new guys were motivated to keep the show going. It shares a similar format, but they were just a fresh new voice with a larger audience,” Breese says.
Eventually it moved to a new time slot and changed its name to “Levity Radio.” “They pretty much gave us free reign to do whatever we wanted,” says host Josh Ballew.
Then came another change: Nate Seek left the program just a few months back, and Ballew and Michelson had to decide whether or not to add another host.
The two agreed on Allison Dunne, a new-to-the-scene comedian they both enjoyed. Also a female. “I think we both agreed it’d be nice to not have three dudes,” Ballew says. So Dunne now serves as one of three co-hosts.
“It is a comedy hour, so who better to have on than comedians,” Michelson says. “We’re familiar with a lot of the people we have on, so they know our style and we know theirs. So we can kind of riff with them.”
And even if comedians aren’t guests on the show, the phone is on and funny calls come in. This led to one of the show’s highlight segments, “Home Improvement Tips,” featuring local standup comedian and host of the “Goodnight Milwaukee Show,” Tyler Menz, calling into the show and sharing his strictly comic advice on projects around the home.
Musicians and other entertainers have also guested on Levity Radio, and are given time to promote what they are doing. “Someone can come on and say, ‘Hey if you want to know more about me, here I am,'” Dunne says. Levity Radio has become the go-to place to hear new talent and learn of new shows, particularly in the comedy field.
All three hosts say the show has helped promote their own careers and inspired ideas for new material. “Out of any conversation (on the air) something can come up,” Dunne says. “It’s a great place to bounce off ideas.”
Levity Radio airs live on Riverwest Radio (riverwestradio.com) every Tuesday at 8 PM. An archive of its close to 50 episodes is also available to stream for free on Riverwest Radio’s SoundCloud page.
As for its three hosts, you can catch Josh Ballew hosting the Art Bar Open Mic in Riverwest every second and fourth Thursday of the month, as well as the Comedy Café Open Mic Competition Wednesday, May 28.
And Ballew will be featured alongside Allison Dunne at the Comedic Release Show at the Underground Collective on Saturday, May 31. KC Michelson performs on the Union Sketch Show, with new episodes premiering weekly on their YouTube channel. And if you’re willing to make the drive, all three hosts will be performing in Appleton at the Fox River House on Monday, June 2.