Sid McCain is a former bigwig in the music industry and the daughter of a world-famous politician. What’s she doing in Milwaukee?

You worked as a VP at major record labels like EMI, promoting and signing bands. Now you’re the promotions director of WMSE-FM radio.

It has been a big change. I’m learning a whole new skill set. I love it. Station manager Tom Crawford is an amazing man. His knowledge of music surpasses anything I have ever been around. My previous job was almost like selling widgets. Music wasn’t creative; it wasn’t fun. It was about how many records the band sold. Being at WMSE is an open field. We can basically do anything we want. And my whole goal is just to have us affiliated with everything in Milwaukee that’s cool.

Why did you move to Milwaukee?

My husband, Jason Sweet, is from Milwaukee. We met in New York City at a bar. We dated, and I fell in love. Milwaukee was never on my list of cities to visit. I got laid off from my job – I was working for EMI doing label acquisitions – and it was time for a change. I had gone as far up the corporate ladder as I could. I got loosely offered a job in L.A., and I didn’t want to live in L.A., so we made the decision to move. We thought of three cities: New Orleans, Raleigh, N.C., and Milwaukee. So we thought let’s give Milwaukee a shot.

Now that you’re here, what do you think of the city?

I live in Bay View, and I love Bay View. Milwaukee is such a hidden gem. There are so many cool initiatives here that the rest of the world doesn’t know about. Come on, Milwaukee PR machine! There are so many cool things.

How did you get into the music business?

I was a college DJ, and I interned at MTV. My first job was at ATCO Records, and my first week there, AC/DC was coming in doing promos. Angus Young came out and sat with me in the reception area every day. He was not creepy; he was just really cool. We would chat and eat pizza, and I thought, “I am never doing anything else in my entire life.”

You’ve met a lot of famous musicians. But you’ve been accustomed to being around fame almost all your life. Your father is U.S. Sen. John McCain. What’s that like?

I don’t volunteer that information, but if someone outright asks me, I do tell them. People treat you differently when they find out. (I’m from his first marriage.) They automatically assume I’m rich, and yet, I was raised on a Navy salary. They automatically assume I’m a Republican, which I’m not. There was never really a sense of fame about being his daughter. I went on the campaign with him for his presidential announcement tour when he ran against Bush, and I did some campaigning when he ran against Obama.

Are you and your dad close?

Yeah, we are. My parents got divorced when I was 13, and it’s always hard. He would take me out to dinner once a week and he took me to father-daughter dances. But then he moved to Arizona and became a congressman, and I didn’t see him as much. I was in Alexandria, Va., and then boarding school in Raleigh, N.C. As I got older, our relationship got much better. He has always been incredibly supportive.

Are you a political person?

No. Well, I’m a political junkie, but only among my friends. I would volunteer [in a Democratic Party campaign] if I really believed in a candidate, but it would not be nice to my dad. He would probably be supportive of it – my sister Meghan is out there and pretty liberal as well – but I’m not the kind to shine unnecessary light on a campaign that doesn’t need that kind of light.

Are you hoping to get your own radio show?

Yes. I was a college DJ at Long Island University, which was a great station. We were out in the Hamptons, so we always had weird celebrities calling. Charlie Watts from the Stones called my friend Eileen because she played his jazz album, and he called her up and thanked her. Anyway, the music I would play would depend on the time of my show. If it were 3-6 p.m., I would love to play some Americana. If it were a late-night spot, I might do a full-on metal show.

What is your favorite band?

The Ramones are my all-time favorite band. I got to stand behind Joey Ramone at his birthday party at this bar called Coney Island High. Other favorites change. Right now, I’m on a big Ryan Adams kick because he’s about to come and play. The White Stripes is another of my favorite bands.

Condensed and edited from a longer interview.

This story appears in the October, 2014, issue of Milwaukee Magazine.
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