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WXDU's record fair appeals to the resurgent vinyl scene

WXDU will host its first record fair at the Rubenstein Arts Center Saturday.
WXDU will host its first record fair at the Rubenstein Arts Center Saturday.

 Vinyl records, cassette tapes and CDs. What were once dying music technologies is now finding a new light in everything from hipster undergrounds to teen bedrooms. Whether a music connoisseur or a casual collector, people around the world are taking part in this global revival. Even with the many streaming sites available, people seem to miss the tangible music experience of a vinyl record or CD. After the near-extinction of physical music methods in the early 2000s, its growing audience embodies the exploration and resurgence of an old medium that stands the test of time and the creation of a new music community.

Recognizing the growing love for physical music, the WXDU radio station will host its annual record fair in the Rubenstein Arts Center’s lounge on Oct. 27 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m for a day of music collecting and record shopping. Pulling in local community members, including Duke students and record vendors like Carolina Soul, WXDU hopes the fair will stimulate fascinating discussions on explorative musical experiences. In addition, the fair offers free food and exclusive WXDU merchandise for sale. 

This desire for building up a music community extends to the history of the station itself and its shifting future goals. 

Founded in the late 1940s as a noncommercial college radio station, focused on sports broadcasting, WXDU, with its own broad collection of vinyls and CDs, has moved beyond this past to serve a greater music community. In the 1960s, the station changed from AM to FM, with the hope of further expanding their reach in the Durham county. Nowadays, the station provides a number of daily shows run by DJs from 8 a.m to 2 a.m. and 24/7 access to music for its listeners from the Rubenstein Arts Center. Their genres range from hip-hop to jazz, exploring the diverse pool of music within their immense collection. 

“Our whole mission is to educate others and to educate ourselves,” said WXDU general manager Caroline Waring. 

With this educational principle in mind, each DJ, either a community member or Duke student, chooses music to play during their time-slot. Their playlists are required to include non-rock and North Carolina local pieces, pulling even music they have never heard before. These DJs try to pick songs that do not get played on other radio stations to expose their audiences to the diversity of available music and to promote specific musicians who may not get the coverage they deserve. They steer clear of chart-toppers and overplayed hits. Some DJs even teach about the music, explaining its significance or describing the artists. 

“[The music] tends to be more experimental and less listened to,” Waring said. 

She said her involvement with the station over the years allowed her to learn about world folk groups and noise bands that she may otherwise never have heard, broadening her scope of music genres. 

“You get a sense of what is being released now, what kind of music you like that you may have never heard before,” Waring said. 

With this hope in mind, the annual record fair aims to further educate the greater Duke and Durham community through its unique mix of vendors and diverse customer body. Everyone from Duke students to avid record collectors come together to share in their love of music, each with their own musical background to offer. The station hopes to foster this community for both Duke and Durham. 

“It is an opportunity to talk to someone and learn something,” Waring said. 

The fair calls attention to the station and its mission to engage and educate. Attending the record fair is an opportunity to learn about the music scene in Durham and to meet individuals with shared or unusual musical interests. Shoppers can purchase records and hear about the background of the musicians from the vendors. It is a chance for music lovers to build on each other’s knowledge and to become exposed to the unique blends of Durham tunes.

Tangible forms of music offer listeners a whole new experience, an experience distinct from online streaming and other abstract forms of listening. Its value is becoming more and more prevalent to the general public, further promoted by events like the WXDU Record Fair to foster a vinyl and music-loving community. 

To listen in to the WXDU station, visit their website, listen through any radio, or download the app ‘TuneIn.’ For more information, visit the WXDU Facebook page. 

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