In the end, it was classic Looch: a little bit of self-deprecation and subtle snark mixed in with very unsubtle songs by some of the coolest rockers of all time.
Thursday's on-air shift by Mary Lucia, however, was also laced with gratitude and — only at the very end — tears, as the flagship jockey of Minnesota Public Radio's 89.3 the Current signed off for good.
"It always amazes me how much love I have for people I don't know," the Twin Cities radio vet told listeners during her final four-hour shift.
Just minutes after she signed off, MPR President Duchesne Drew announced that Lucia's boss was gone.
Current program director Jim McGuinn "is no longer with Minnesota Public Radio," Drew said in an e-mail to MPR staff. "We are proud of the programming we delivered with Jim and are appreciative of his contributions ...
"MPR will remain focused on building a culture that attracts, engages and rewards talented people who share our values and passion for public service."
Lucia had voiced criticism of her bosses near the end of her broadcast, saying: "I've never looked for outside affirmation about what I do. ... But these last couple days hearing from you I know I've made a difference. It doesn't matter if the company or management doesn't feel the same way."
In Facebook and Instagram posts Wednesday, Lucia had cited the struggle for "equity and fair treatment of all of my sisters at the station" as a reason for her abrupt departure.
"I've been trying for years to affect positive change in the company," she wrote, addressing the co-workers she leaves behind: "Know your worth, embrace your unique talent and voice and lift each other up."
Lucia's comments prompted a pledge for equity from Jean Taylor, the new CEO of MPR's corporate parent, American Public Media.
"I am firmly committed to creating and sustaining a diverse, inclusive and equitable environment where all employees, including women and people of color, are respected and valued," wrote Taylor, who is former board chair of the Star Tribune and the daughter of its owner, Glen Taylor.
Two sources who have worked for the Current and did not want to be named for fear of reprisal said McGuinn was the main source of Lucia's complaints. They said he too frequently gave female staffers lower raises and less-positive reviews than their male counterparts.
McGuinn did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Lucia and MPR executive Drew declined to comment further.
The last rock DJ in town who was a bit of a rock star herself, Lucia kicked off her show with Keith Richards' trouble-shrugging solo classic "Take It So Hard." Thursday also marked the sixth anniversary of Prince's passing, and she quipped, "I'm getting out before [Richards' death] could possibly happen."
Her shift ended to the tune of Richards, too: The Rolling Stones' "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It)" was her finale. In between, the artists she spun ranged from iconic and empowered women such as Dolly Parton, Mavis Staples, Cher and Etta James to unsung rock pioneers such as Stiff Little Fingers, Sweet, the Dead Kennedys and T. Rex to more recent favorites such as Spoon, Kathleen Edwards, Starcrawler and Jenny Lewis.
Some songs seemed to address her departure: Dave Edmunds' "Crawling From the Wreckage," Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come," Frank Sinatra's "My Way" and the kiss-off anthem "I.O.U." by her brother Paul Westerberg's band the Replacements — a family connection Lucia never mentioned on air during her 17-year tenure at the Current.
The one that stuck out like a sore middle finger, though, was Margo Price's "Pay Gap," seemingly directed toward her now ex-bosses
The Current not only counted Lucia as its most visible and well-liked DJ — listeners across the Twin Cities likened her departure to losing a friend on social media — it relies entirely on women for its marquee weekday shifts. Newcomer Ayisha Jaffer just started Monday as the 6-10 p.m. weeknight host, while Jade Tittle (whom the station promoted to music director last year) holds down midday and Jill Riley hosts the morning show.
Riley is now one of only two O.G. DJs left from the Current's 2005 inception, alongside Bill DeVille.
Before handing over the airwaves to Lucia Thursday afternoon, Tittle — with Tina Turner's "The Best" as her segue song — singled her out as a mentor and hero.
"I keep thinking: You're only as strong as your weakest link," Tittle said, "but here at the Current, Mary is so good at what she does … it made all of us a little bit better."
While corporate FM stations nationwide have whittled down their on-air staffs to skeleton crews with robotic jockeys — many not even working in the city they're aired in — Lucia led the way for the Current to be less amalgamated, more local, more personal, more rebellious and just plain entertaining.
She oozed enthusiasm for the music and personality between the songs, whether discussing her pug dogs and annual trips to New York or telling funny tales about Oasis or Tom Waits or just talking about the weather in a love/hate way that was utterly Minnesotan.
On Thursday, she played one of Prince's lengthier classics, "D.M.S.R.," not only to memorialize him but also because "I'm going to develop a UTI [urinary tract infection] if I don't go to the bathroom." After the Walkmen's urgent rocker "The Rat," she called it "my getaway song in case I turn to robbing liquor stores."
As for her daily "No Apologies" selection, she spun the Eagles' "Heartache Tonight" and cited as one she'd never played. It sounded like she was bragging.
While continually reiterating her love for the work, Lucia made it clear she believes her life is bound to get better after signing off. She has said off-air that she hopes to write a book or two, and do voiceover work.
"It's not terribly romantic or profound, but I've always said: Things work until they don't," she said before letting the Stones serenade her out the door.