Rachel Ratner Is at KEXP, Night School, and, Basically, Everywhere Else

Sit back, relax, and feel like an absolute sloth next to this woman's industrious hustle.

KEXP touts her as the educational outreach coordinator and DJ. Jules Maes' stage stays hot thanks to her booking, and local pop-punk band Partman Parthorse is graced with her skills on bass and keys. She boxes. The girl goes to night school. Think you're busy? Sit back, relax, and feel like an absolute sloth next to the industrious hustle of Rachel Ratner.

Please introduce yourself and tell us your KEXP-given title.

Hello. My name is Rachel Ratner, and I have been ordained educational outreach coordinator/DJ by KEXP.

On top of DJ'ing one night a week when everyone's sleeping (Wednesdays, 1–6 a.m.), I'm the educational outreach coordinator....I work with our hundreds of dedicated volunteers and interns. Because we're a nonprofit, member-supported radio station, we rely heavily on volunteer power, and I get to coordinate them, which is really cool because I, like many KEXP employees, started out as a volunteer myself. I also help plan events like KEXP's Summer BBQ.

How did you get your start working for the station?

I started as an intern in 2003. Then I got mono, and I think they felt bad for me, so they hired me. Yes, I know it's the kissing disease. No, I didn't kiss anyone. I swear.

What drew you to work in the realm of music?

Three main things:

1. It's an integral part of my life.

2. It's an occupation that not only accepts but wholeheartedly embraces nerds.

3. My totally useless degree in creative writing.

What did you do before, and where are you from?

Long, long ago, in the before time, I grew up in the small college town of San Luis Obispo, Calif. A great town, but not much to do in terms of music, so I moved up to the Pacific Northwest, slung coffee, worked at a record store, went to shows, and was fortunate enough to end up at KEXP.

Any favorite in-studios?

Iggy Pop. Well, first off, he's one of my musical heroes, so I was super excited that he agreed to do an in-studio with us. We broadcast him live from SXSW this year, and he lit the airwaves on fire. Metaphorically. Although he probably would have literally, too, if we had given him a match and some magical powers. (You can hear all our in-studio performances archived on our Web site for two weeks: www.kexp.org.)

Best KEXP pledge-drive moment?

When Kitty Pow Pow (a real cat) became a member. More cats need to recognize. My cat, Mr. Fitz, is a total bum, and hasn't pledged a dime.

What's the worst part of your job?

The heating in my office is malfunctioning. So there is a constant gale of arctic air blasting my face at all times. I am wearing mittens as I am typing this.

How do you select which records you're going to play during a set?

I thumb through our 35,000 CDs and records and pull out all the records that catch my eye. It takes a really long time.

Do you practice witty banter at home?

I wish I did. I'd be a lot funnier. I am, however, pretty good at not being funny. That totally comes naturally. Oh, I'm also really good at overexplaining jokes, thus, again, making them not funny.

Along with the station, what other Seattle music-related entities benefit from your services?

I don't know if they benefit, but I play bass and keyboards in Partman Parthorse (www.myspace.com/partmanparthorse), I am one of the new bookers at Jules Maes Saloon in Georgetown (www.myspace.com/julesmaessaloon), and the first Thursday of every month, I spin records live at the Tin Hat in Ballard with KEXP DJs Mr. West and DJ Shani. They pay us in drinks. As you can imagine, we drink lots of drinks.

Extracurricular activities:

I'm kind of a workaholic. My boyfriend's a saint for sticking with me. Some of the other stuff I do includes: night school (UW, social work), boxing (I've taken three lessons, which, in my book, makes me a deadly killing machine), and [organizing leadership workshops for] the Service Board.

Top five records to listen to while mass e-mailing volunteers:

5. Panther, Secret Lawns.

4. Jay Reatard, Blood Visions.

3. Marnie Stern, In Advance of a Broken Arm.

2. Casey and Brian, Catbees.

1. Various artists, Hyphy Hitz.


A weekly peek behind the curtain of the Emerald City music world, Behind the Scene sheds light on folks you won't see onstage, but who make it all happen.

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