The S.B. Questionnaire: Ted Coe

Talking Radio and Culture with the Development Coordinator of KCSB 91.9 FM

KCSB's Ted Coe

I immediately took a liking to Ted Coe. I mean, the man rapid-fire talks to you like a Quentin Tarantino character about movies, culture, and the arts, and he’s eruditely versed on every aspect. And when we met for drinks at a place that he insisted be dog-friendly, Ted confessed his passion for similar fixations of mine like Todd Haynes, Burt Bacharach, and All That Jazz. And here’s the corker: this past weekend, he was in San Diego attending Tiki Oasis, the world’s the largest convention for fans of tiki culture!

Ted works as the development coordinator at KCSB 91.9 FM, the student and community access radio station at UCSB. Besides having his own popular program called “The Freak Power Ticket,” he supervises fundraising, special events, public relations, and marketing for the station. On September 29, KCSB will host its next meeting for anyone who wants to do their own radio show as a DJ or to develop the skills to be a news, sports, public affairs, or cultural-arts host or producer.

This culture machine answers the Proust Questionnaire.

What is your most marked characteristic?

I can’t stop talking about movies and popular culture. I compulsively share my obsessions with people. I pride myself in being a highly-educated, well-rounded human being, but if you don’t have a stomach for art and culture, you’d probably be best not to spend time with me.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I am very proud of the role I’ve played since the year 2000 in helping our student and community radio station to become a world-class organization. But even outside of my professional work at KCSB, I’ve been very invested in creating a lively music, cinema, arts, and intellectual scene in our town — and I’m proud of my accomplishments in those realms.

What do you like most about your job?

I guide KCSB’s fundraising, special events, public relations, and marketing, and I also host my own music-and-cultural arts radio program, ‘The Freak Power Ticket.” All this means I’ve had encounters, interviews, and collaborations with some of the most amazing scholars, filmmakers, musicians, actors, authors, and activists I know of: Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Rick Linklater, Danny Boyle, Chuck D, George A. Romero, Naomi Klein, Todd Haynes, Ralph Nader, Jack Black, Amy Goodman, Boots Riley, Joel Hodgson, Vandana Shiva, Saul Williams, Michio Kaku…and too many cutting-edge figures to name.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I have a strong utopian streak. Sustainable cooperative villages growing their own food, recreating, and making art, music, and babies sounds really good to me.

What is your greatest fear?

What’s the flip side of my previous answer? The End Times. I’ve had apocalyptic nightmares ever since I was young. My mind grabs onto images of nuclear war, contagion, ozone holes, right-wing separatists, and the living dead far too easily.

Who do you most admire?

It was such an honor to have met two men I see as true American heroes: Noam Chomsky and the late Howard Zinn. The very definition of gentlemen — brilliant, independent, and brave — they are noteworthy too for their clear humility.

What is your greatest extravagance?

I’m a collector: I’ve stashed records, CDs, videos, books, comics, zines, and computer files in three to four different locations. (But I’ve reached a point where, if I’m not circulating most of these materials through my media work, I’m wanting to release them into the world.)

What is your current state of mind?

Fully entrenched in my own personal middle ages, I’ve managed not to let go of my ideals. I still see ways that I can play a role in making social change. And while it’s not always easy to do that and be in Santa Barbara, I’ve found great rewards over the 25 years I’ve lived here. Life can be exciting, and yet we’re also part of this gorgeous, nurturing environment.

What is the quality you most like in people?

I am drawn to enthusiasts who share my own natural curiosity but are also open-minded and good-natured individuals. The university has been an amazing environment to connect with people like this — although it can be a bit too transient a population for my own liking.

What is the quality you most dislike in people?

I get my back up when I see people being arrogant and/or ungenerous. I have a strong sense of justice, and am willing to confront such behaviors in various ways. But I find such experiences to be totally exhausting.

What do you most value in friends?

Generosity. Common passions. Loyalty is very important to me too. And a sense of humor. I really value people who share my interest in sticking it to the man, but who also make time for R&R — be it in some tiki bar, movie house, mosh pit, or right next to a stage.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Behind the mic, I do constant battle with my proclivity to say “like” (and “um”). A Sacramentan by birth, I’m also partial to the term “hella.”

Which talent would you most like to have?

I love the sharing of art and ideas on the radio and I love to write. I’m gratified by the audiences I’ve found for this work, and I’d like to develop my skills more to have an even greater impact in those realms. I also want to have the discipline and focus that it will take to help the indie-media movement blossom fully.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Sometimes my mind is too active for my own good. I work to slow it down, but there are definitely new skills that I could adopt to make that happen.

Where would you most like to live?

New York and San Francisco are the greatest cities I have much experience with. But while I miss Northern California with a passion, I’m okay with where I’m at right now. (The weather is much better here in Santa Barbara.)

What is your most treasured possession?

A black-and-white framed photograph of my mother and grandmother. The women from the maternal side of my family had a huge impact on me growing up, so, in my mind, that picture is absolutely priceless.

What makes you laugh the most?

I’m a comedy junkie: a huge fan of Monty Python, Peter Sellers, SCTV, Mr. Show, the Kids in the Hall, MAD Magazine, Wet Hot American Summer, Stella and The State, Richard Pryor, Jon Stewart, Upright Citizens Brigade, David Letterman, and Bill Hicks.

What is your motto?

“Time to let your Freak Flag fly!”

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

In 2007, I visited the grave of anarchist leader Emma Goldman in Chicago. While I don’t share many of her experiences and am not nearly the firebrand that she was, there’s nevertheless something about a fearless immigrant woman speaking without a modern PA system in front of thousands that tickles my fancy. That was almost a spiritual pilgrimage for me, in the end.

On what occasion do you lie?

I’m a lapsed Catholic (and a former altar boy): I really want to be honest at all times. (So…when the stormtroopers come a knockin’?)


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