Show Spotlight: The Playground

The Playground hosts Liam and Alek

Don’t let these youthful faces fool you – while they might be the youngest programmers in Radio Boise’s ranks, Liam and Alek have proven themselves to be among the most reliable, showing up to the Radio Boise studio every Saturday morning for their 7am show, The Playground, for the past 5+ years. These guys are constantly listening and growing their musical repertoire, keeping the rest of us on our toes!

What can you not stop listening to these days?

Alek: I love music across the spectrum, but as of recently I have been getting into the soundscape, post-rock, and chill electronic genres. Artists like the Album Leaf, Bonobo, This Will Destroy You, along with the staple Sigur Ros.

Liam: Lately I’ve been hitting up my dad’s jazz collection and finding some funky fusion grooves. Jeff Golub’s “Step Aside,” and then also the album Tricycle by Flim and the BBs. I also have a chronic Tool obsession. I found out they’ll be coming to the Gorge and that triggered some sort of binge to listen to Lateralus forwards, backwards, sideways, and upside-down.

What is going on in the Treasure Valley that you’re excited about?

Liam: The maturation of the music festivals has been wonderful to see. Namely the Treefort Music Fest and Gene Harris Jazz Fest. Boise is starting to put itself on the map of notable and innovative music venues and artists and thus contributing to a flourishing creative environment.

Do you have a ritual surrounding your show? You know, a ritual meal or a certain artist you have to play?

Alek: For me, I’ll always start the show with a touch of Tycho or some other relaxing electronic piece. Liam will be guaranteed to throw in a Sufjan Stevens song (or 3). After the show, Liam and I can be found at Guru donuts nearly every Saturday!

Liam: Sufjan is definitely a ritual.  Delving into his music beyond Carrie & Lowell and Illinoise provides a more in-depth view of his career.  Besides the music, one ritual we have is getting donuts right after the show from our favorite, Guru.

How long have you been doing The Playground? What drew you to take on the show?

Liam: I started the show once KRBX hit the FM airwaves. I was 11 at the time and my dad was very good friends with one of the founders, Kevin Moran. Both Kevin and Jeff Abrams wanted to put together a kids show and have a kid run it. And I guess I happened to be in the right place at the right time. That following July I started training and began spinning Raffi and Putumayo Kids every Saturday in October 2011. Alek joined a little down the road, and our listeners got to experience my awkward music tastes through early adolescence. Sometimes I can’t help but cringe at previous playlists. But the show has come a long way through 6 years; our unique sound and music tastes have shined through those EMOTIONAL and DEEP moments when we were 13.  

For those who may not be familiar with your show, how would you describe its sound?

Alek: It’s like a playground! Jumping around and always swinging between different genres of music. Some weeks we will go on alternative rock stents, or 2 hours of soundscape, or a week with all of our favorites from all genres!

How did you discover Radio Boise?

Liam: I was hanging around the station with my dad when KRBX first hit the FM airwaves.

Alek: I discovered Radio Boise when Liam first started hosting The Playground.

What other shows do you listen to?

Alek: Outside of The Playground, I always listen to Sonic Saturday with Wayne. I am a huge fan of Psych Sirens and The Wreck, as well.

Liam: Every Sunday I listen to the gospel show, and if I’m not in the middle of class I’ll tune into the jazz show on Wednesdays.

What other kinds of things do you do in your life?

Alek: I am an avid and competitive cyclist. I race mountain bikes and road bikes. I also enjoy taking long romantic walks to the fridge.

Liam: I play a lot of jazz music around town with school and with my own projects.  I do a lot of composition for orchestra/concert and I enjoy sitting around and watching cult classic movies with pasta.

Why do you believe in volunteering for community radio is important?

Alek: Community radio is a pillar of democracy. It is the epitome of free expression! Anyone and everyone can hear your voice and your music. It is important to keep community radio alive because it sustains and supports so much growth within the community. Not only do we provide a platform where individuals can cast their beliefs and opinions, but we also foster growth of the music industry. KRBX (and many like us) is fantastic for artists as we provide spaces for them to share their music and begin their careers. Increasingly, the music industry looks to be choking out the small guys in favor of the pop music money machines.

What sounds do you find yourself inexplicably drawn to?

Liam: Being a musician myself, I tend to be drawn to music that contains challenging and technical phrases played by the musicians. I guess it’s a fine balance between cerebral and passionate thinking; leveling the King Crimson, Urban Nomad, and Jaco Pastorius scale with Laura Marling, Bob Dylan, and Bryan John Appleby.    

Alek: I find myself looking for music that has a purpose behind its creation. Its lyrics mean something or the piece evokes an emotion. What I love in a song is a story. Bob Dylan, Run The Jewels, Ben Howard, Bon Iver…they all use their talents to tell a story.


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