Milwaukee Talks: 88Nine Radio Milwaukee's Dori Zori
Both on and off the air, Dori Zori is down to earth, smart, funny, not afraid to be wrong and as equally compelling a story teller as she is an attentive listener.
Since the late '80s, Zori has brought personality, warmth and great music to Milwaukee radio listeners. For two decades she had a weekly show on WMSE and in 2012 she joined the 88Nine Radio Milwaukee team as a co-host of the morning show with longtime friend and colleague, Jordan Lee.
Zori recently moved to the weekday from 9 a.m. to noon slot and also DJs on Sunday mornings.
During the interview – scheduled for an hour but stretched into four hours of conversation – Zori chatted about her bust-a-rhyme name, clubbing in the '90s, radio, music, voice recognition, the Sydney Hih building and more.
OnMilwaukee.com: Is "Dori Zori" your real name?
Dori Zori: It is! I was born Dori Wenzel and when I married my husband, Milan Zori, my name became Dori Zori. It's 50 percent of the reason why I chose to marry him. Everyone thinks it's a fake name, though. It's silly and goofy, but I totally embrace it. I am starting to do some web interviews for Radio Milwaukee and I am thinking about calling them "Dori Zori Stories."
OMC: That is hilarious. I am a little envious of your rhyming name. Also, how and when did you two meet?
DZ: I interviewed him on WMSE. He had a magazine called "Tastes Like Chicken" and he and two of his friends came on my show. They were hilarious. They brought me presents – weird swag like a backstage pass from an LL Cool J show – and we talked about wrestling and music and dumb movies. Guests usually stayed for five minutes and they were there for over an hour. We become fast friends and eventually dated and got married in 2008. Thanks 'MSE!
OMC: Where did you get married?
DZ: We got married at the Hide House. It was pretty non-wedding. More like a party, with a lot of food and free booze. I attempted to DJ my own wedding which might have been a mistake.
OMC: Did you have a wedding song?
DZ: We did. "Such Great Heights," the Iron and Wine version.
OMC: Where did you grow up? What did you do pre-radio?
DZ: I grew up in Mukwonago. Went to Cardinal Stritch for a short period of time. I always thought I wanted to do something in nursing. As a kid I was really into biology and I watched a lot of "Quincy" with my grandparents, but the older I got the more I realized needles and blood grossed me out. I did well in college, but it was expensive and so I dropped out and discovered dance clubs. That became my education – five nights a week.
OMC: What were your favorite clubs?
DZ: At first, Bailey's, Bermuda's and Club Maryland. Later, when I turned 21, Eso and Mad Planet. I remember quarter tappers every Thursday night at Eso. It was bananas. That's where I met so many of the friends I have now.
OMC: Crazy, we were probably there at the same time, drinking one bar stool away! Anyway, where did you live then and what neighborhood do you live in now?
DZ: I lived on the East Side for many years. Then I moved to Riverwest for 10 years and now, Milan and I live in Bay View. There's a cool energy in Riverwest that I miss, but I love Bay View. I appreciate the quiet and being a block away from Humboldt Park.
OMC: How did you first get on the radio?
DZ: My friend Scott (Merbeth) was a student at 'MSE and he had show in middle of the night, from 3 a.m. until 6 a.m. One night, he asked me to stop by and help him run the board so he could study. I loved it and asked him if I could come back. He said yes and I started to basically do the show with him. When he graduated, he left but I stayed. It's funny, I don't think I asked anyone if I could be on the show or take over the show – I just did.
The only problem was – and this sounds bad – I would be out at the clubs until the show and then do the show and have to drive home, exhausted, to Mukwonago at 6 a.m. So I left WMSE for a couple of years and was lucky enough to have the chance to come back.
I was dating a guy, Dustin, who was known as Skinny D and he had a punk rock show on the station. Then he graduated in 1995 and I took over his show. It was the Thursday show from noon to 3 p.m. and I had that show until I left for Radio Milwaukee in 2012.
OMC: What was the name of your show on WMSE?
DZ: Eventually it was dubbed "The Girlina Show" but it didn't really have a name.
OMC: Considering WMSE DJs are volunteers, what did you do to make money during those years?
DZ: I worked in insurance, as a mortgage broker and eventually as the underwriting director for WMSE.
OMC: How did you wind up at Radio Milwaukee?
DZ: My friend Jordan (Lee) is a DJ there. He and I have been friends for a long time. He had a hip hop show on WMSE years ago. We always said we wanted to be on the air together, and then he told me he was being moved to mornings and the station was looking for a female co-host.
I went to the interview thinking I would hear a lot of stuff I didn't like, but instead, I loved everything they said. Page 1 of 2 (view all on one page)
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