Music Director of the Month: Jess Williams of WICB Ithaca

Planetary Group recently took some time to get to know Jess Williams, of WICB’s New Music Show, Mondays 8-9pm on 91.7FM Ithaca


Planetary: Tell us about how you got involved at WICB and how that experience has impacted you?

Jess: I got involved at WICB my first semester at college. I had no intention of getting super active in college radio, I just wanted to find other music-lovers to talk to. I got roped in though. Originally I was just a DJ for the hip-hop show Weekend Rhythms since it was the only time slot that worked with my schedule.


P: Do you have a favorite artist or album you never get tired of listening to?

J: My favorite artist will always be Ben Folds. That guy changed my life. There are only a few albums I could listen to forever without getting tired of it, but a few that come to mind are “Homogenic” by Bjork, “Kid A” by Radiohead, “Time ‘n’ Place” by Kero Kero Bonito, and “Illinois” by Sufjan Stevens..


P: Is there a kind of music or particular artist you’d NEVER play on your show?

J: You will never catch me playing anything by Greta Van Fleet. I can see the appeal but they make me want to rip my ears off. Also I’m the world’s number one Coldplay hater.


P: How did you get your start in the music industry?

J: I got my start in the music industry mainly through participating in college radio, and through writing album reviews. I’m a journalism student so art critique, culture discussion, and music discourse keep me happy. When I took up the position of Music Director I got to have my first real exposure to the music industry and some of the inner-workings of radio.


P: If you had the power to instantly change one thing going on in the music industry at the moment, what would it be?

J: I need music streaming to actually pay artists. Spotify pays a fraction of a fraction of a penny per stream, and Apple Music isn’t much better. Streaming platforms have also shown that they care more about the most popular and most streamed artists than smaller, independent ones. Even Bandcamp is now owned by a massive corporation. It shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of the consumer to help support smaller artists through merch and ticket sales, streaming services need to step up and pay artists more. We all know they have the ability to.


P: What event or person in your life would you say has shaped you the most as a person? A music curator?

J: If we are talking musically, definitely my dad. He’s also a huge music fan, and has exposed me (whether that be on purpose or not) to some amazing music throughout my life. When I was really little he gave me an MP3 player with some of the best indie rock of the 2000s, and that became the music that I grew up on. I constantly see the influence of both my parents in what music I gravitate towards and how I appreciate the music I listen to. 

I would also say that growing up in the internet age had an extreme impact on me. My main tool for music discovery is the internet, and I have met many like-minded music fans through social media, online forums, and online communities.


P: Has working in college radio made you want to further pursue a career in the music industry?

J: When I started studying journalism, I swore off PR. I find so much value and importance in independent journalism, and connecting my work to a company or brand did not seem like my vibe. However, when I started my position as music director, and started communicating with music promoters and venues, and music artists, I realized that working for the art that I care about meant a lot to me. I also found that music promotion was atypical in function and atmosphere compared to what I’ve seen in the advertising/marketing industry. When I decided to study in Los Angeles for a semester, I really wanted to learn more about music and radio promotion, so Planetary was a great fit.


P: What in your life brings you the most joy?

J: Talking about music and connecting over music gives me so much joy. I know, big surprise. 

More broadly — discussing art and media, and fostering community are my main sources of joy and purpose.


P: Do you have any favorite TV shows, movies, or books you’re enjoying you’d currently recommend?

J: These have been living in my mind rent-free these days:

TV Shows – Bojack Horseman, I Think You Should Leave, Arrested Development

Movies – Coraline, Aftersun, Stop Making Sense

Books – Do zines count? Those.

Video Games – Celeste, Zelda Tears of the Kingdom, Persona 3 Reload


P: And finally, are there any concerts you are looking forward to happening in the near future?

J: I’ve got tickets to the Otoboke Beaver show in LA this week, and I’m super hyped for that. It’s been hard for me to buy concert tickets since I don’t know whether I’ll be on the east coast or the west coast this summer but I’m really hoping to see Adrianne Lenker on her upcoming tour.




Vinyl or Digital? Both!

Dog or Cat? Dogs just bc I have a dog, but it’s a very difficult choice

Morning or Night? Night obviously. I do like waking up early though, mostly because I just hate sleeping.

City or Country? City, gotta be where all the people are.

Beach or Mountains? Mountains. I hate sand. I hate sand so much.

TV or Book? TV. I used to be big into reading but who has the time for that anymore.

TikTok or IG? TikTok is going to be the death of us all, but it’s way more fun than instagram. Sue me.

LA or NYC? NYC by far. I’ve only lived in LA for a couple months and already I can feel the fakeness overtaking my soul.

Sunny or Rainy? Rainy. Everytime I’m in the sun I feel like it’s trying to kill me.