The independent news organization of Duke University

Controlling the airwaves

It's 3 a.m. on a Tuesday morning--what are you doing? For a certain group of music lovers, sleeping or studying is not the answer. Instead, they're spinning discs at the radio station.

Tune into 88.7 FM WXDU, which broadcasts 24 hours a day, and you will hear Duke students hosting their own radio shows.

"We have a phone list with everyone trained as a DJ on it, and there are about 150 names," said senior Cooper Bethea, general manager of the station. "We have about 100 active DJs on the air."

These disc jockeys are both local residents and students. Bethea said that a fair number of them had never had experience working at a radio station before going through training for WXDU. But they share a common trait--a complete love for music.

"The thing that I love about it is, most of all I just love music," said senior and DJ Hillary Lane. "Having a show every week helps me share with others my love for music."

Each DJ has either a two or three hour time slot. During that time, he or she is required to play at least six songs off of a list compiled by a music committee. Aside from that, the DJs are allowed to play whatever music they choose.

"I work with another guy and we're sort of free form," said Jim Adleman who hosts a show with fellow senior Neal Goldenberg from 12 to three a.m. Wednesday mornings. "We play whatever we feel like that night and we'll take calls and requests."

Call-ins typically ask what music was just played, by whom and if that band will be in the area any time soon. There are also a few more interactive talk shows such as a sports show on Sunday nights, explained Bethea.

DJs cite this free flow of information and education about music as a highlight of working at the station.

"It gives me the chance to educate the listener while I educate myself," Lane said. "I listen to music I never would have, and that's probably the coolest part."

Adleman agreed, adding, "You're always coming across new stuff at the station. One of the best parts about WXDU is all of the different music it has."

DJs also pointed to the pleasure they get out of talking with others interested in music in a fairly stress-free environment.

"It's a way to interact with people but not face to face," Adleman said. "It's really laid back. We just kind of hang out."

It's this laid back environment that appeals to so many of the DJs. Lane does not plan to pursue a career as a DJ partially because she thinks the radio station environment outside of college is likely to be quite different.

"I think it's just a college thing for me," she said. "I think commercial radio is just too constricting."

WXDU is hosting their annual benefit concert this Friday, Nov. 16 at the Coffeehouse on East Campus, which will feature five local bands.

"Every year, we try to do a show that showcases both some unheard bands as well as some better known local bands," said Karen Cirillo, benefit coordinator.

The bands will donate their time to raise money for the station, but as a trade off the station DJs will host a pot luck dinner for them, cooking most of the food themselves.

Cirillo explained that the funds raised will go to researching the station's signal, currently difficult to pick up on campus, in order to provide better reception by students.

Discussion

Share and discuss “Controlling the airwaves” on social media.