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"They are like Bert and Ernie, for adults, and not made out of felt," Weiss says. "This difference shows most when they interview other people, often performing artists themselves. Teresa gets them to talk about what they do; Ann gets them to talk about how they think about what they do. The result is that in a 10-minute interview with a local musician, the listener learns from Teresa's questions that the guy writes his own music, plays guitar and sings, and will be performing live the upcoming Friday at local bar X, and from Ann's questions that love for his favorite sports team can be traced back to a stuffed dolphin that protected him from the dark when he was an orphan."
By the time Weiss left KBGA in 2011, Grant had taken over as general manager. His responsibilities multiplied, but still he manned the board for "The Ann and Teresa and Ann Show" and functioned as a foil to the estrogen onslaught served up by these mavens of mayhem. It's clear that the three are good friends, though, and their relationship was cemented almost from the day they met.
"Clark insinuated himself on us," Teresa says of their initial meetings. "We're sitting there outside the UC for our DJ training, and he's just shaking his head. It was obvious that this was a kid that was desperate for some older female attention and was already basking in it. And we just instantly fell in love with him."
The indoctrination process was a comedy show in itself. Ann and Teresa reported for duty and learned that they would have to take production training. They found the FCC rules and regulations so funny they read them on the air at the first opportunity. One section of the rules deals with libel and slander, and it was impressed upon them repeatedly that you can't say anything about someone that isn't true. So they immediately cooked up a segment called "Stephanie Is a Drunk and a Liar."
"Well," says Teresa with a shrug, "she is."
"But then Clark taught us each to run the board," says Ann, "and we frustrated him so badly because we were doing things imperfectly and he would just say, 'I'll just do it.' That was awesome because then we could concentrate on just talking."
Grant focused on the technical issues, trying to engineer the show while also keeping the ladies within those FCC boundaries. At times it must have seemed like an English professor trying to teach syntax to a couple of parrots jacked up on Red Bull.
He gradually got pulled into the on-air banter, slipping into the role of beleaguered third wheel while running the board and answering phone calls from their growing audience. "We realized that after a year and a half that the show was functioning because they both had a common enemy," he says. "Me."
At first, he says, the two-against-one dynamic "seemed like a good device." But the women harangued him so relentlessly that he eventually clammed up. "There was a year or more where I just didn't speak."
"He was down to a series of grunts," Ann recalls, "and then silence. No matter how much we baited him." Did she use her therapist wiles to try and draw him out?
Grant laughs. "I refused to have my brain swept out by Ann."
While their on-air relationship was hilariously contentious, Ann and Grant became good friends and musical collaborators off the air. After their weekly post-show debriefing, Grant would give Ann a guitar lesson. Eventually, as she became more proficient on the guitar ("I practice a lot"), they went from teacher-student to musical partners, and began writing songs together.
Their duo Blue Dream is the result of that friendship. They released a CD of original songs last summer, and a follow-up is in the works. Blue Dream's music is as evocative as their name, full of languid, echoey guitar drones and layered soundscapes. That is, when they aren't playing one of Ann's eccentric songs like "Fur Flying Furry" or her proto-punk celebration of homonyms, "Dictator."
They've also learned the ropes of radio together, as Grant co-produces both the "Health and Spirit Radio" show and "In Other Words." "It pays the rent," he says.
When Grant came from Arkansas to attend UM, he didn't know a soul. He scored a job at KUFM, and got hooked on radio. "I started thinking, how am I ever going to get on the air? And someone mentioned campus radio. I met these people (at KBGA) and they became my family," he says.
Ann and Teresa came along soon enough and took the young French major under their wings. "I could never have imagined that these two women who walked through the door could provide me with so much joy, so much inspiration," he says. "I can't think of how many times I've had dinner at their houses."
His passion for public radio has propelled Grant into a new venture, the Butte America Foundation. The nonprofit organization plans on promoting social justice, and has received authorization from the FCC to construct a low-power FM station in Butte. Grant has moved to Butte, where he is working on setting up shop on the second floor of the Carpenters Union Hall. BAmF expects to launch some time in 2015.
Ann, like Ben, has been a driving force in BAmF, but the loss of her partner in music and radio production has been a tough blow. This spring, they devoted two consecutive shows to Grant's departure from the team. The trio reminisced about the countless funny, bizarre and emotional moments they have shared in their five years together.
"There's going to be acute sadness from across the room," Teresa said into her mic, not-so-subtly deflecting any angst she might be feeling over Grant's looming exit.
"I'm not sad, I'm totally fine," said Ann, a little too quickly. She changed the subject, telling Grant about some ideas she has for their new show on the Butte station when it's up and running. "Teresa and I have a show there, right? We get a show."
It's a statement, not a question.
"Sure," Grant said. "You just have to fill out a proposal, is all."
Ann sputtered with faux outrage. "I have bled for this station and he's gonna make me go through some kind of ... vetting to see if I can have a show!"
"I'm cool with that," said Teresa, not engaging. "I just want to phone it in."
Grant didn't budge, clinging to the high ground. "Terry Conrad always says that radio is a privilege, not a right," he said with his soft Arkansas twang. "So I don't think one little hoop is too much to ask, is it?"
Teresa came on: "We'll be right back with 'The Ann and Teresa and Ann Show'..."
Fans of their shows and podcasts will no doubt be wondering what direction "The Ann and Teresa and Ann Show" will take without Grant. Don't expect huge changes. The hosts realize that the magnetic chemistry between them is rare, and the change creates new possibilities. In other words, the comedy whole is greater than the sum of its talented parts, and "The Ann and Teresa and Ann Show" simply won't be denied. How long they can keep it going is, apparently, up to them.
"Nobody's ever going to ask them to quit," Grant says.
If they ever did leave the airwaves, says Teresa, they would still get together and do what they do. She would just set up a couple of microphones in her living room and they would pick up where they left off.
"All I want is snappy repartee," she says. "I don't even know if I need anyone to listen. If no one listened to 'The Ann and Teresa and Ann Show,' and as long as I got to have a microphone and Ann was right there, would I still do it? I think I would."This story was updated June 30 to correct Sheryl Noethe's status as Montana's former poet laureate. It was updated again on July 15 to reflect who worked on "In Other Words" over the years. in The Indy regrets the errors.