I’m a DJ at a college radio station, WQRI FM 88.3 Bristol RI, and I was just thinking that some of you might be interesting in learning about what it’s like to have a rock format show. In case you’re ever in Rhode Island, “Mr. Excellent for President” is on Fridays 6-8 PM, or pretty much any other time I want (the station managers are very forgiving).
Anyway, I hope you all have a lot of interesting questions - fire away!
Beagledave, I’d be happy to play Freedbird. 6:00 next Friday evening, listen for it.
Dbygawdcapn, I don’t get to keep demos or promos, but I can borrow anything I want to rip into mp3s/oggs/whatever. I do have a playlist, but I’m encouraged to take requests, and I can play whatever I want “within reason” - if I’m not getting any requests, the station managers do like what I play to have some faint resemblence to the playlist. And regarding payola - I haven’t heard anything about it, but I very much doubt it. We’re a low-power station and noncommercial - it would be kinda a waste, don’t you think? That said, I believe there was a problem earlier this year with DJs who also worked at a bar called Lupos spending a lot of time promoting it.
Texican, what station did you work at? Nothing like that has ever happened to me, you lucky [expletive deleted] - the most interesting thing that’s ever happened to me was a series of IMs from a woman who claimed to be an alien leader, the “Keeper”.
Oh, and I’m sorry, I forgot to say what college WQRI is at. It’s Roger Williams University. Keep the questions coming!
A real question: So you guys can’t free form your program at all? That was what was so cool about our station, you got a timeslot, and you just had to submit a synopsis of what your show was about and you were free to do it. We had everything from polka to Irish folk music to heavy metal to country. You could play whatever you wanted or feel free to conduct a talk show, do a political monologue, or whatever.
Yes and no. My “official” show is rock format - I play music, mainly what’s on the playlist + requests + maybe a few other songs that strike my fancy. Most of the WQRI DJs are rock format, but after a semester at the station you can apply for a “specialty show”, which could be classical, jazz, metal, foreign affairs talk (my dream show), whatever. But if you don’t have a specialty show, you’re pretty tightly regimented - on “your” show. Number of talk breaks, songs, sweepers, and so on is all specificed.
However, there are not enough DJs to fill all the time slots we want to, and some of our DJs are too lazy to show up consistently to their shows. The booth is empty a lot of the time, with just WinAmp DJing, and we’re encouraged to go provide human content if we want, even if it isn’t our show. And since there are no playlists provided for these impromtu “Hey, let’s go on the radio!” sessions, you can do pretty much anything you want. Last week, for example, we played the Carmina Burana on the air, along with some jazz - that was fun. And I went on the air after the Columbia fell to express the sympathies of our school and station staff - that was less fun.
Voices, Can you do impersonations and accents? One of my best buds had a College DJ gig, and he had a whole stock of accents and celeb voices to draw upon.
Somewhere, I still have a tape of the show he did where he had an interview with Grover from Seseme Street. Seems Grover had forgotten to take his medicine that day and got violently angry when he was told he couldn’t smoke in the DJ booth.
Sounds a lot like my days on the air (KHDX, FM 93.1, Hendrix College, Conway, Arkansas). We generally had approximately noon to 1:30 am programmed (i.e., people signed up to DJ one- or two-hour slots during that time), but mornings were generally a free-for-all. I had the 11:30pm-1:30am Friday night slot from my first quarter there in the fall of 1982 until the winter quarter of 1986, which functionally meant that I could keep going until I felt like shutting down the transmitter (or until a better offer came along). A couple of times I decided to keep going until someone else showed up the next day (generally around 10:30 or 11 on Saturday mornings) – this required a fair number of Captain Beefheart album sides to accomplish (for bathroom/cafteria breaks). You kids have it easy these days with computer software for playing digital audio files indefinitely.
So here’s a question: what does the control room look like these days? In my day, we had a couple of turntables, a cart deck (that we almost never used, except for the DJs who liked to run the NORML PSAs that were left over from years before), a cassette deck patched into the board, a six-channel board with big, palm-sized rotary pots, a boom mike and a single set of Sennheiser cans. This was arranged into a L-shape, with the two turntables on heavy pedestal bases at the short side of the L, with the board and the rest of the gear on a sturdy old wooden table that formed the long side. Sitting facing the corner of the L, you’d have the turntables in reach of the left hand, and the pots for the mike and the turntables in reach of the right, and the only door into the room from the external hallway at about 2 o’clock. The rest of the room was fairly bare – a wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling set of shelves for LPs on the wall behind the DJ, the transmitter and related gear in a rack in the corner, the phone on a small table in the other corner, a couple of government issue chairs on the other wall, and ten years worth of random graffiti and murals covering every square inch of the walls and ceilings (the administration painted over the whole thing several years ago, a move that was long overdue). One of the murals covered the window into the room from the hall, so that with the door locked no one had any idea what went on in the studio, except for what they heard over the air.
Do you still have to get an FCC 3rd class license? (mine’s still in my wallet – the only tangible proof I have of my time on the air).