Let me guess. You’re a hip, well-rounded student in want of a hip, resume-rockin’ after school activity because YMCA just doesn’t cut it anymore. You like music. Or rather, music doesn’t make you want to vomit. You desire membership in the world of Jewish punk rock flutists and an extensive music library interrupted only by witty vandals who frequently scrawl their maxims on the walls.
Introducing Duke’s radio station, WXDU 88.7—open and willing to all open and willing Duke students.
The beauty of WXDU is that it accommodates the schedule of the busiest overachiever. Training consists of three hours watching a DJ do his or her show. Once trained, you submit whichever slots you can work, and by the following semester you are on the air.
Working for WXDU can mean two hours every other week. It can also mean three hours on the air weekly—plus potluck dinners, Chick Rock Friday night extravaganzas, heart-pounding board meetings, prom nights in Chapel Hill and working alongside WXDU diehards including Lisa Brockmeier, online fly-ball gear saleswoman and enthusiast.
The radio station is not only comprised of Duke students, faculty and employees, but also of volunteers from outlying communities who are generally older and unaffiliated with the University. These volunteers make it possible to remain on the air year-round 24/7. Duke considers WXDU one of its most successful community outreach efforts.
But it is essential to not let this deter you, the skittish undergraduate, from joining the station. Students have the easiest time getting prime slots thanks to the permanence of class schedules. They are encouraged to fill leadership positions, including general manager of WXDU—which is specifically set aside for a current Duke student every semester. In other words, this serves as wonderful gloss for that resume. Instead of fighting for a position in student government senate and downloading music with the possibility of getting pimp- smacked with yet another RIAA lawsuit, it is better to painlessly become general manager of an entire college radio station and listen to thousands of CDs to your greedy little heart’s content.
Enter the life of one day as a WXDU DJ. It is Wednesday night. I head over to the rambling brick building on the far side of East Campus, having brought along a friend to help me pick out music and keep me company. She loses herself in miles of CDs in the other room. Every now and then I hear her yell: “Oh my God! They actually have—insert obscure indie band name—!!”
In the main control room, the walls are awash with lamplight. The paint is flaking off the walls, but in a way that makes me feel cool, peeling off a sliver with my fingernail as I wait for the current DJ to finish up his slot. Black marker on the walls read: “We have only three seconds in life.” “No Smoking: but feel free to smoke.”
I throw on my first selection: New Order’s Bizarre Love Triangle, because this version is six minutes long and I need some time to get settled. Just as my fellow DJ bids goodbye, my friend comes in from the other room with an armful of CDs. I hope she’s flagged them because it is going to be a bitch putting all of those back on the shelves.
I move the web cam away because I believe online perverts are watching my image renew every fifty seconds. Then I readjust it because I like watching myself renew every fifty seconds on my own computer. Wow. Was I really in that position just a second ago?
Countless listeners call in their requests. I want the Rosebuds! I want Damien Jurado! I want My Motherhumping Bloody Valentine! I want some Modest Mouse!
I’m sorry. I can’t play Modest Mouse. Too many people know about Modest Mouse. We, as a radio station, are on the air to facilitate your journey of obscure local bands and other music we believe deserve our endorsement.
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Oh, WXDU. You kill me.
Patricia Kim is a Trinity sophomore.