Joe Hardtke


Technical Director

At age 10, Joe Hardtke destroyed his parents’ home stereo trying to sample beats from the radio.  

A native Wisconsinite, he began his broadcasting career as a teenager at a polka radio station. (Yes. Polka. All day.) Down the hall from the air booth was a mono production studio with two cart machines. Many secret radio plays were recorded after hours. No gear was destroyed.

Having learned to love accordions, he attended the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, forming bands (not polka) and crafting shows (again, not polka) at WRST, the campus radio station. After graduation and a short detour in commercial radio news, this lifetime audiophile returned to music, recording albums and concerts in his adoptive hometown of Madison. 

Friendly ears at Wisconsin Public Radio heard that racket and asked him to engineer their live variety show Higher Ground. So began a successful decade in public broadcasting: Here on Earth, Wisconsin Life, Zorba Paster on Your Health, The Moth. Studio and concert recordings with The Indigo Girls, Lila Downs, Clyde Stubblefield, Justin Vernon, Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Hundreds of shows, two Gabriel Awards and an Emmy nomination followed. After 25 years of sound, Joe joined the staff at TTBOOK as Technical Director in 2016, recruited by his mentor and predecessor Caryl Owen.    

In his free time, Joe bends found sounds and objects into music. He re-imagined the old TTBOOK theme several times with iPhones, belly buttons, scissors and Anne’s best attempt at beatboxing. (She’s pretty good, actually). He explores the final frontier with his loving and patient wife, Beth, and Starfleet Commander/son, Cian. 

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