Variations on a theme

Sitting in a dingy recording studio at KSKQ-94.9 FM headquarters in an unheated warehouse on Hersey Street in Ashland, Maya Seligman introduces listeners to a string of songs that all include the word "you" in the objective form.

"I Want You," whines Bob Dylan over the airwaves.

"I Wrote This Song About You," declares Simone White.

Seligman chooses a different theme every week for "Maya's Mix," which airs from 2 to 3 p.m. Fridays on 94.9 FM and streams live online at

"I hope the show helps people to step outside the box and try music they wouldn't have otherwise and find their own creative juices," Seligman says.

She seeks suggestions for songs that match the theme from her listeners, friends on Facebook and just about everyone she knows. Then, she whips up a mix of songs in varying genres for the show on the low-power radio station.

"Her show has a very unique edge because listeners feel like we helped her create the show," says listener Ed Keller, an Ashland resident. "It really feels like community radio."

In between every three or four songs she plays, Seligman interrupts to tell the listeners some interesting facts about the theme of the week, or which listener suggested the song.

"As an English major, I delight in the unique twists of language," she says into her microphone. "You is both a singular and plural pronoun."

But it wasn't always that way, she continues. "Thou" used to be the singular form of "you," while "you" was the plural, she says.

She also pauses to thank the station's sponsors, who are responsible for keeping the programming on the airwaves. The community radio station depends solely on donations and grants.

Prompted by nostalgia over her days as a disc jockey at her college radio station at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pa., Seligman volunteered last spring to produce a show for KSKQ.

"I thought it would be really fun to be in radio again, and they had a place where I could volunteer," Seligman says.

There is no predicting where Seligman's theme will go from week to week, or what genre will get into the mix, her listeners say.

Sometimes the theme is related to the news, such as Michael Jackson's death or the Siskiyou Fire in Ashland.

On Sept. 21, the Friday after the fire on Tolman Creek Road, Seligman played a collection of songs about fire, including "Roof Is On Fire" by Beat Boy and "I'm On Fire" by Bruce Springsteen.

During the month of December, she picked up on the holiday season with themes of "Red" and "Holidays."

Other themes have just been fun whims, such as "Foreign Languages" when, as you might guess, all of the songs were in foreign languages.

Her debut show in May 2008 was all about mothers. Seligman's mother, Lynn Gates, was visiting from Berkeley, Calif., that weekend, so Seligman decided to surprise her. Gates had no idea that Seligman had a radio show. Soon after her arrival in Ashland, she was sitting in KSKQ's studio listening to her daughter dedicate the show to her mom.

"I listen to her show every week now," Gates says. "It's really fun, and I love the way she interjects personal comments about why the song appeals to her and mentions who suggested the song. It adds another dimension to listening."

Seligman says she learned early in her show that some themes won't work for daytime radio programming.

"My original plan was to use the full body as a theme for one show, but I got so many requests and song ideas from other people that it made sense to cover it in two weeks," she wrote in her blog. "Thus the first week was devoted to the lower body — toes to tummy — and the second week featured songs for all the other body parts above the waist."

The adult content in some of the lyrics about lower body parts was more appropriate for broadcast after 10 p.m., she says.

All of her reflections and playlists from each show are on her blog and archived at Listeners can always go back and listen to the show again or simply look up the name and artist for a particular song.

Keller says he learns about new artists almost every week on her show.

"I listen to the show online, and I can explore the music on the Internet while I'm listening to it," he says.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or

Share This Story