WFMU’s Clay Pigeon: The Congenial Geezer Who Helps New Jerseyans Start Their Day

"A lot of DJs wouldn’t be caught dead playing some of what I play," says Kacy Ross, host of WFMU's Wake ’N’ Bake. "But you need someone in the morning to be accessible."

DJ Kacy “Clay Pigeon” Ross in the break room of the WFMU studios in downtown Jersey City

DJ Kacy “Clay Pigeon” Ross in the break room of the rambling WFMU studios in downtown Jersey City. Photo: Christopher Lane

Friends and family may know him as Kacy Ross, but to tens of thousands of loyal listeners, he’s Clay Pigeon, the congenial geezer from Iowa who helps them start their day as host of Wake ’N’ Bake, the morning show on New Jersey’s freeform radio station WFMU.

There are many similarities between Kacy Ross and the character he portrays on the radio five days a week from 6 to 9 am. He did grow up in a small town in Iowa, a fact Clay Pigeon refers to often. But Ross didn’t just stumble into WFMU’s Jersey City studios from some cornfield. He spent decades honing his craft on radio stations across the country, and playing in rock bands for much of his adult life.

Ross broke into community radio in Tampa with a man-on-the-street interview program called Mondo Eclectica. “I kept doing it after I moved to Los Angeles, and then Milwaukee,” he recalls. “And I was still sending the shows back to Tampa on cassette every week.” A friend passed along a show tape to WFMU station manager Ken Freedman, who liked it enough to offer Ross a spot.

“I had never even heard of WFMU at that point,” says Ross. “But I was like, Wow, this is kind of New York City radio, and that’s pretty cool. So I started sending in The Dusty Show, which was me interviewing people in rural Wisconsin. And it became somewhat popular on the station.”

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Ross moved to New York in 2007 and started doing his show live from WFMU’s studio. A decade later, Freedman decided to create a drivetime morning show and staged a host competition, with different candidates auditioning for a week at a time. “It dragged on for six months, and finally, I got the gig,” Ross says. “That was in June of 2017.”

Wake ’N’ Bake with Clay Pigeon became an immediate success. WFMU broadcasts a terrestrial signal at 91.1 FM, which reaches northern New Jersey and Brooklyn, the demographic that provides primary support for the listener-supported station. But WFMU also broadcasts (and archives) its programming on the Internet, expanding its audience around the world. Freedman says that Wake ’N’ Bake reaches 80,000 unique listeners a month.

As Clay Pigeon, Ross’s job includes juggling weather, traffic, news, concert listings and station promos, as well as playing an eclectic array of music that might segue from Atomic Rooster to Glen Campbell to some obscure indie band. And, in a voice that invokes a kindly old coot rummaging through his attic for records, Ross fosters a deep connection with listeners. He preps for the show all night, leaves home at 4:30 am, arrives at the studio at 6 am, and returns home to sleep from 11 am to 7 pm.

“I like that place where pop and art intersect,” Ross says. “A lot of DJs wouldn’t be caught dead playing some of what I play, but you need someone in the morning to be accessible. I’m being weird and left field, but I’m also playing music people know, so they’re going to be curious and then want to explore and come in the WFMU door.”

WFMU depends on listener donations for its funding and will be staging its 2024 fund drive March 4–17; tune in and donate at

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