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Three things I wish college/community radio music deejays wouldn’t do

Sleeping cat

Some community radio deejays make me snooze (source: wikimedia commons)

I love college/community radio music shows. My favorites include Bonnie Simmons and Derk Richardson at KPFA-FM in Berkeley, CA and The Fly at KKUP-FM in Cupertino in the South Bay. Other faves include the crew at WFMU-FM in Jersey City, New Jersey, and KFJC-FM of Foothills Junior College (home of RS’s Jennifer Waits).

But there are just some things that college/community deejays do that put me to sleep. Here are three.

The endless community calendar

I know, you want to support the musicians. You want to support the clubs and the community of fans. So in the middle of your show you do a rundown of every single calendar event happening this week related to your genre: bluegrass, reggae, whatever. Thanks so much. It’s really generous of you.

Only one problem—I always tune out. I tuned into your show to listen to music, not to a long litany of people, places, and things that I could read about on some web page if I really intended to go to any of these events. There’s one Bay Area music deejay whose show I perversely check in on just to see how long he’ll spend boring the pants off his dwindling audience, regaling them with upcoming gigs.

It’s called a blog. Get one. Post the events there and tell your audience about it a couple of times during the course of your program.

The same old song

Please don’t play the same tunes over and over week after week. It’s a signal that you are putting very little effort into your show. I can think of at least three community radio programs in which I can easily predict what songs the host will air next week. How do I know? They’ve been airing those songs for years!

I treasure community/college radio shows because they play music I don’t know about. That’s what makes radio different than iTunes. Surprise me. That’s why I want to listen.

The Wikipedia entry

It’s always hard to say what will or won’t work on radio. Sometimes I really enjoy it when a deejay has a live guest and there’s lots of chat and joking between the songs. I usually tune out, however, when the host decides that it’s time to spend ten minutes or so giving me the in-depth history of some artist or track. It’s not like it isn’t valuable stuff—it’s just that I really tuned into your show to listen to music, and experience an unexpectedly long string of commentary as an interruption.

Mind you, I do want to hear the song front and back-announced—like they used to on commercial radio until everything became about money. And a few fun comments are always welcome. But if you want to do an in-depth talk on something, just reserve your whole show for that purpose and bring in someone to interview. Do all talk or all music. But please . . . don’t try to do both.

These are just my preferences and peeves, of course. Feel free to ignore them all and do what you want. What do other Radio Survivor readers like and/or dislike about college/community radio music shows?

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6 Responses to Three things I wish college/community radio music deejays wouldn’t do

  1. Eric Weaver February 9, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    1. Tongue clicks

    2. “And that’s all we heard in that set” and similar phrases at the end of a backsell.

    3. Pausing before the end of…

    … the sentence. And then running on into the next sentence with no pause at all.

  2. Miss Mia February 10, 2011 at 8:18 am #

    I don’t have a problem with a DJ playing the same song every week, because if no one else is playing it it still means that it’s only getting played once a week. If there’s a single in the new release bin that you really like and want to expose other people to, play away. While I love listening to the radio to hear music I’ve never heard before, I’m much more likely to actually BUY new music if I hear a song or artist a couple of times.

  3. Jennifer Waits February 11, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

    Ah… thanks Eric for the Shatnerisms reference! “And that’s all we heard in that set” bugs me too. But, I’ll take long pauses over “ums” and “ahs” and the sound of shuffling paper and squeaking chairs and bumped microphones.

    The community calendar doesn’t bug me that much, as radio is one place where some of these events are actually getting promoted and it’s one of the public service benefits of non-commercial radio. At KFJC the “concert outlook” only airs a few times a day and I’ve definitely learned about events of interest from it.

    I agree that I don’t like to hear the same songs and bands over and over again. At stations with massive record libraries it just doesn’t make any sense to constantly rely on the same old favorites. And, if it’s something new and interesting, chances are high that other DJs at the station are playing that artist too.

  4. John Anderson February 12, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

    Inebriated screaming. Fun as a broadcaster, not so much for most listeners.

  5. Mike Flugennock February 12, 2011 at 10:51 pm #

    Excellent article; you’ve pretty much covered everything that rubs me wrong about college/community radio.

    Of course, given all this, I’d bet the proverbial farm that DJ Howie Pyro’s “Intoxica” program on would drive you all batshit — but I freakin’ love it. He doesn’t spend much time at all on calendar notes or detailed history of every artist, but he sure does love him some echo… echo… echo… echo… echo…

  6. Paul Riismandel February 13, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    Starting a voice break with, “uh, hi.”

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