Disc jockey Jeff Juliano is leaning into the desktop computer before him. His eyes wander from the monitor screen as he listens carefully and laughs.
It’s a morning in late July, and Juliano—better known by his KPIG handle “Ralph Anybody”—is playing a fake commercial over the airwaves. The uproarious segment is an announcement from a hot dog company about the secret ingredients in their sausages.
It ain’t pretty.
“Piglets, cow hooves—you wish!” the fake sausage CEO says in the recording, one of Juliano’s favorites. “If you knew the kinds of crap we put into hot dogs, you’d puke your guts out. You’d be begging for rat parts! Let me put it this way. Does the word ‘anus’ mean anything to you? Go on, look at the end of a hot dog sometime. See how they pucker? Both ends! All-natural casing, my eye!”
It’s dark humor, sure, but Juliano can’t help shaking his head and grinning. As the segment continues, Juliano waves his forefinger—almost playing the part of a choir conductor—and hangs on every word, savoring this, as if he won’t hear the parody commercial for another year. Because he probably won’t. Juliano—who’s celebrating 25 years at KPIG, with a jubilee this Saturday at Kuumbwa Jazz—notes that the bit mentions the month of July. He refuses to play it any other time of year.
“Every July, I get to play it a few times,” Juliano, a former comedian, says, smiling.
He’s sitting in the studio, affectionately known as “the Sty,” wearing black shorts and a navy blue t-shirt, with two pens in his breast pocket, and his flip-flops kicked off.
Although he hasn’t done stand-up in several years, comedic sensibilities run through much of his work at KPIG, where he serves as music director and “production wizard,” as well as the morning DJ. Within KPIG’s rock and alternative country format, Juliano plays a wide range of little-known funny tunes. That field includes everything from “Sixty Minute Man”—a 1960s doo-wop song about a lover revered for his stamina—to the Austin Lounge Lizards’ “Little Minivan,” a Beach Boys-esque homage to car songs from the perspective of a dad who never bought the sports car of his dreams, but is doing his darndest to make the most of his path.
Juliano also airs old comedy routines. And more than a decade ago, he introduced a now-well-known segment called “Here’s What Longtime Listeners are Saying About KPIG.” Each snippet features an insult-filled sound bite, usually an old movie clip. KPIG is essentially the butt of each joke.
Many diehard fans, aka “Piggies,” still remember legendary KPIG cofounder Laura Ellen Hopper, who died 10 years ago this past May, as the all-time voice of the station, which first popularized the genre of “Americana” music. In recent years, Juliano has embodied that quintessential KPIG style as well as any other DJ—his sets are eclectic, often irreverent, sometimes beautifully moving and always surprising, as he keeps listeners guessing about what’s next.
His voice—in the tenor range, heavy in the bass—plays often on the station, even when he isn’t in the studio himself.
Before and after his morning slot begins, Juliano records the station’s commercials for companies like the Healthy Way, a local dieting business that he swears by, as it helped him lose 100 pounds. He’s since gained some of that weight back, because of medications he took for anxiety and depression—a strange irony, he says, given that weight gain can cause anxiety and depression. (He’s excited to be losing the weight all over again.)
“I’m bipolar, OCD, ADD—I have all the fun disorders. I think all of those together help me do this as well as I do,” he says pointing back to the computer monitor. “Being OCD is very helpful.”
Watching Juliano work leaves little question that he’s a meticulous perfectionist.
Even though he insists he will never be a morning person, he wakes up every morning at 2:30 a.m. to get to studio at 4, two hours before he goes on air. That allows him to get a head start on commercial production and ensures he’ll never be late getting on the air.
By the time I show up to meet him at 9 a.m., he’s in the middle of his daily “Make the Connection” listener-call-in game, and he already has all the songs picked out for rest of the show, which wraps up at 10 a.m. At around 9:45, he starts working diligently on a segue between two songs—Griffin House’s “Yesterday Lies” and Mick Jagger’s “Wandering Spirit.”
When the moment comes, he turns up the dial to hear whether or not the transition works. “Plus,” he says. “I want to see: Is it as good as I think it’s going to be? Yes, it is.”
Ralph Anybody’s KPIG 25th Anniversary Extravaganza will be at Kuumbwa Jazz on Saturday, Aug. 5 at 7:30 p.m., with Sherry Austin headlining. Juliano will MC the event and sing. Tickets are $25-$40.