Beckwith: Hanging with the spin crowd
I always appreciate a good song on the radio. Listening to my own playlists are great, but there’s something about the spontaneity of catching a Nirvana, CCR or even a never-before-heard song on the radio — especially in this valley with our limited FM station options.
When I delivered pizzas and sandwiches in college and Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” would come on, I’d immediately increase my speed and volume. Good radio DJs are like frosted animal crackers: Sure, I’ll eat regular animal crackers if they’re around, but if the frosted animal crackers come around, it’s over.
That’s why it felt so good Wednesday at the end of my guest DJ set during DJ M’s Roots Rock Reggae show on KDNK when a listener called the station not to request a song but to praise our music selections. The feeling of bringing joy to someone’s midweek night with nonstop musical heat was great. The mood in the studio after the show with DJ M and the late-arriving DJ Lock Lion was similar to a locker room after a win.
Before the show though, we really should’ve been game planning as opposed to playing bingo and drinking beers at Carbondale Beer Works. DJ M, a.k.a Maria Wimmer, a coworker of mine at The Aspen Times, and I scrambled to the station which, aside from the massive satellite dish in the lawn, you could mistake for someone’s home.
When you walk in you see shelves of CDs and vinyl lining the walls. We arrived just as Butch’s Seasoned Country program was wrapping up, and DJ M pointed me in the direction of the reggae and hip-hop sections before dashing in the studio to start the show.
I had a few reggae songs in mind, so I grabbed Don Carlos and a couple other classics before moseying over to the hip-hop. Having physical CDs is nice for inspiration. A blank search box on YouTube can be daunting. KDNK has a digital music library, as well, but the hip-hop albums dated back to the time when I still bought CDs. If you were to ask me, “What music could you teach a class on?”, it would be hip-hop from that shelf.
There was Jeru the Damaja, Redman, Mos Def, Keith Murray, Jurassic 5 — just a smorgasbord of ’90s and early-2000s rap. Stuff I love but wouldn’t have thought about had they not been there.
It’s a lot tougher than you think to play two hours of music with minimal ad breaks. Of course, this could’ve been rectified with a little planning, but I got kicked out of Boy Scouts so I guess I’m not trained to “be prepared” for anything.
I also wasn’t prepared to be peppered with questions like “So what is you column about this week?” or “What song are you playing for us here?” or “What’s you DJ name?” Not only did I panic and say just one of my carefully crafted names and read the wrong song, but I didn’t talk close enough to the mic. (I blurted out DJ Tom Haverford but omitted DJ Street Money Shark and the Loon with the Tunes.)
So when you’re inevitably listening to the recording of the show at http://www.radiofreeamerica.com/schedule/kdnk-1 under April 5, and you can barely hear one of the voices, that’s me.
This was not the only hiccup during the show’s production. While DJ M was playing a song via her phone, a friend pocket-dialed her, broadcasting a ring before we could frantically ignore the call. Also, when DJ Lock Lion joined us during the second hour, we hit the wrong button that gave us a dial tone and Maria announcing, “We’re having technical difficulties” — which was awesome.
I meant to ask if they had a soundboard with zany morning talk show bites but forgot. I really wanted to say something like “We were just at bingo night, and let me tell you, talk about old people central,” followed by a sound bite of Clint Eastwood saying “Get off my lawn” from the movie “Gran Torino.”
Overall though, it was a blast. I love playing bangerz in general but to share some on the air from a cozy public radio studio was a pleasure. Thanks again, DJ M, DJ Lock Lion — a.k.a Aaron Anderson — and KDNK. And I wouldn’t qualify as a public radio DJ if I didn’t say you should donate to public radio, specifically KDNK. How else are you going to hear exemplary programs like Seasoned Country or Big Daddy’s Rock and Blues or Roots Rock Reggae?
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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