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For Waterford High senior, love of music leads to radio venture

Waterford — Connor Elci, 18, talks of music as a seasoned critic thrice his age might. He also happens to be a Waterford High School senior.

Elci, who sounded easygoing and confident while discussing modern music in a phone conversation with The Day, graduates soon but, in the twilight of his high school career, he has found time to co-host a podcast with school librarian Matthew Cadorette.

Cadorette, who started "Lancer Library Radio" when schools suspended in-person classes, felt Elci would be the perfect podcast co-host.

“When I came up with the idea for the radio show, I immediately thought of Connor,” Cadorette wrote in an email. “He listens to a wide variety of music, and I thought he could fill in the gaps that I am missing, mainly, music from the 21st century.”

Listeners of the show will be familiar with the running generational divide joke between Elci and Cadorette: That the elder of the two stopped listening to music when The Clash broke up in 1984. Cadorette said he found a kindred spirit in Elci while talking in the library — Elci is not a casual listener, but a connoisseur of music history. Cadorette said Elci knows music, knows how to talk and has an interest in radio, “or podcasting, or whatever it is you want to call what we are doing.”

The two sometimes call their endeavor a “fake radio show.” Elci prefers “podcast,” Cadorette, “radio show.”

“But also: he’s excited,” Cadorette wrote. “He gets excited sharing what he’s learned and he gets excited when you tell him something or show him something he didn’t know.”

The endeavor was born from Cadorette’s desire to connect people during quarantine. Lancer Library Radio sometimes highlights people doing good things in Waterford, as well. While Elci corresponds to these missions, the podcast is also a creative outlet for him. A teacher of his aptly called him a “musical anthropologist.”

“I spend a lot of my time deep diving on the internet and reading a ton,” Elci said. “Learning is a fun thing when it’s a subject I enjoy doing. And music has always been a big interest. My dad’s a musician, my grandfather’s a musician, I’ve grown up around music.”

Elci played bass in the Waterford High School jazz band. He credits his father for exposing him to bands such as The Police or Soundgarden when he was young. And yes, he has been involved in Student Council, Modern United Nations and other extracurriculars, gets good grades and works at Harkness Memorial State Park, but it is the intersection of music and communication that speaks to Elci most, the act of turning over a piece of art and exploring its cultural implications.

Lancer Library Radio has recently done episodes where Elci and Cadorette discuss what Elci has deemed the best albums of the 2010s. This series is interspersed with interviews of local personalities, such as Clark Lane Middle School teacher Barbara Comstock-King. The listener gets a sense of Elci’s eclectic interests and ability to communicate effectively when, in one episode, Elci and Cadorette play Kanye West’s “Devil in a New Dress” before segueing into an interview with Comstock-King. Rick Ross rumbles to close the song — “I’m making love to the angel of death / Catching feelings, never stumble, retracing my steps” — before Comstock-King pops in.

“That was pretty funny,” Elci said. “A lot of the teachers that come on probably don’t love Kanye or Rick Ross. I, of course, respect their taste; music is qualitative.”

Elci, like other Kanye acolytes, stands by his convictions, as evidenced by his culture and music writing for The Lancelot, Waterford High School’s paper, or by this exchange between him and Cadorette on the show:

“This is Connor Elci’s top albums of the past 10 years,” Cadorette said.

“No, this is the best,” Elci quipped.

“If people disagree, let them start their own fake radio show,” Cadorette replied.

For those who enjoy debating Kanye’s discography: Elci recognizes the quality of Kanye’s debut album, "The College Dropout," but thinks "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" is his most complete project.

“There are movies that I love, like 'The Big Lebowski,' 'Pulp Fiction,' 'Citizen Kane,' where I feel like if you were to take a scene out of that film, it would ruin the whole film. There’s no filler,” Elci said of "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy."

Elci enjoys sharing his ideas about music with his friends — now he’s doing it with the general public. He relishes showing people an artist they may not have listened to otherwise, whether it’s Death Grips or Frank Ocean.

Lee Elci, Connor’s uncle, is a columnist for The Day — he notes his political views do not align with his uncle's — but it was Waterford High School that nominated Elci for a senior profile.

Connor Elci’s varied experiences growing up in Waterford have brought him to the library radio show and, next school year, to Southern Connecticut State University to study communications.

“I like to communicate; that’s kind of my thing,” he said. “It’s good to be around other people, to see what they have to say. I think the idea of human conversation is lost a bit due to internet, texting, emails, Instagram, Snapchat and other social media platforms. Human communication is a really important skill to have.”

Elci’s school friend Justin Silva, and Cadorette agree: They foresee Elci working in music in some capacity.

“I anticipate him employed in something related to the music industry, whether it’s radio show host, producer — he makes beats — or something else,” Silva said.

Cadorette is impressed by the breadth of Elci’s interests and his constant improvement.

“He also has a great love of movies, so I could see him producing, directing, teaching,” Cadorette said. “If you listen to his interviews, you can hear him getting better and better at asking questions and drawing people out.”

The genesis of the library radio show and the bedrock of his future is, as Elci put it, “I just like being around creativity and culture.”

s.spinella@theday.com

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