About five years ago, someone from WOMR’s nominating committee approached Justine Alten and asked if she might be interested in serving on the community radio station’s board of directors. The two women had worked together at a restaurant and the friend knew how much Alten liked music—and thought she’d be a good fit.
She wasn’t just a good fit for the board of directors; then-operations manager John Braden saw her potential and she started her nautically named show, Red Right Return, in the nine-to-midnight slot on Sunday nights. “I used to like to listen to Captain Frank,” says Alten. “Sitting in board meetings made me think about how I could be a DJ. That timeslot is deadly, so I was playing lots of electronic music, heavier dance music. I wanted to play music like that to stay awake!” Not quite a year later she was able to transition her show to the early Monday morning space it occupies now.
Has the music changed? “I made a pact with myself to constantly listen to new music and to play emerging artists,” says Alten. “I’ve always feared becoming one of those middle-aged people who still listen to what they listened to in their 20s. When I lived in Seattle, I worked for a music magazine, and to do that you have to keep listening to new stuff.”
So not so much of the heavy electronic music now? “My taste has shifted a little,” she admits. “I’m more into psychedelic folk and pop folk, bands like Big Thief. I still like indie rock—Grizzly Bear, LCD Sound System, and some of the new R&B. Solange: her last album was just beautiful. I don’t think the college charts are a thing anymore, but I feel like I’m playing what would be on them if they were.”
She loves working for WOMR. “The idea that it’s all volunteer-produced is so exciting, no matter whether it’s a talk show or music,” says Alten. “I love that on Wednesday mornings you can listen to Tony (Pasquale) and then on Thursday mornings you can hear a sweet sailing story from Chuck Cole. Those two shows are so completely different and unique and perfect for the personality of the DJ, and you don’t get that off a Spotify playlist or the stupid satellite, and you certainly don’t get it in commercial radio.”
She also loves the radio station’s location. “It’s perfect that it’s in Provincetown. It reflects the uniqueness of the community and landscape and light of Ptown—the most incredible light in the world—and its history. WOMR takes all that and magnifies it to the world. They carry that call out. That’s unique.”
Alten has a day job: she’s the private-events coordinator at Wellfleet Preservation Hall. “I love the community aspect of the Hall itself, and I’m ecstatic to be part of the team,” she says. “Its commitment to community and culture on Cape Cod mirrors what’s at WOMR.” She also is part of the “dysfunctional family” team at Terra Luna restaurant in North Truro. “The place evolved around music. Musicians wander in on Thursdays and give impromptu concerts. Artists are always coming in… the clientèle reflects the kind of arts community Tony’s established there. And the food’s good, too!”
In the meantime, back at WOMR, Red Right Return will continue lighting up Monday mornings for a long time to come. “One of my favorite things is being in line somewhere, and the person ahead of me hears my voice and recognizes it. Once a woman said to me, ‘You make my Monday mornings.’ I hope I continue to do that for people for a long time!”
“Going to the radio station, my favorite part is driving on 6a from Truro and hitting the top of the big hill—seeing the skyline, the shoreline, of Provincetown, with the town in back of the harbor and Long Point, the momentum—it’s amazing.” As is Red Right Return. Be sure to tune in!
Red Right Return
Monday 6-9 am