Radio UTD Marks 10 Years of Tunes Rarely Heard Elsewhere
Web-Based Station Provides an Outlet for Student Creativity and a Platform for a Variety of Styles
Apr. 16, 2013
DJs, like Brian Cash, have the freedom to play just about anything they want on Radio UTD.
Tune in to Radio UTD, and you’ll hear an eclectic range of music you’re not likely to get anywhere else.
That’s because disc jockeys at the student-run station avoid Top 40 songs and generate playlists that emphasize local talent.
“We give a platform to new artists,” said Laura Carroll, station manager and an emerging media and communication (EMAC) senior. “Why do Top 40 when you can turn to 106.1 for that? We want to do the things we do best, and that’s promote local music. We can bring music to campus that otherwise would not be heard.”
For 10 years now, the student-run radio station at UT Dallas has given students a venue for discovering and sharing music they’re passionate about. The Web-based station streams live shows 12 hours a day, five days a week.
DJs come from a wide range of majors, from more naturally creative programs to “engineering types who need a creative outlet,” Carroll said.
“For students who like independent music and feel like outsiders, this gives them a home,” said Zach Brown, programming director and EMAC senior.
Radio UTD began streaming Internet programming in February 2003 from a small closet in the Engineering and Computer Science North building. In 2005, the station moved to the lower level of the Student Union, and in 2011 to its current studio in the Student Media Suite on the same floor.
The Radio UTD website, which sports the modified image of an old-style analog stereo receiver, streams live shows 12 hours a day, five days a week. DJs play everything from international music styles such as K-Pop (Korean), Celtic and Desi (Pakistani and Indipop), to hip hop, metal, electronic and indie rock.
DJ's aim to play at least seven new songs per week, from any genre. The station also broadcasts occasional talk shows and live coverage of some UT Dallas sports events. Talk show topics range from global politics to theoretical physics. Then there’s Nerdstatic, a program covering “nerd culture” topics such as Doctor Who or the latest webcomics.
But the station’s range of music really sets it apart, said Chelsea Upton, the station’s music director and an EMAC senior.
“What makes us different from stations at other campuses is that we have much more diverse programming, and we’re more inclusive of a variety of students’ tastes,” Upton said.
Among the most popular weekly shows led by some 50 DJs this year are Upton’s “Jump On It,” which features rhythm-and-blues and hip hop, and Eric Martinez’s “goo wop” program.
“I tell DJs to play music they love and that they’re passionate about,” Brown said.
Sometimes, their favorite performers go on to national fame. About a year and a half ago, the station interviewed rapper Macklemore, who has since landed on the national Billboard charts.
DJs work with a network of independent music promoters to build their playlists. Music promoters send CDs to college stations, hoping to make the Top 200 list for college radio airplay compiled by College Music Journal (CMJ). Radio UTD has been nominated for three different CMJ awards.
DJs spread the word about Radio UTD by providing free music for campus events. Campus groups can request a certain style of music and the station will provide a DJ, playlist and sound equipment.
Musical energy from the station is a popular backdrop for UT Dallas events, and back-to-school activities such as Freshman Move-In Day and new student orientation.
“August is almost painfully busy,” Carroll said.
While most DJs go on to careers in their majors, some have made connections in the music industry. Former station manager Shil Patel is now with Team Clermont, an independent music public relations firm in Athens, Ga.
Carroll has a job lined up with a digital marketing start-up company in Austin after she graduates in May. But after four years at Radio UTD, she will miss the station’s activities.
“This is like a big family. Almost like a little fraternity,” Carroll said.
Misty Hawley, assistant director of student media at UT Dallas, agreed that the students’ love of music seems to create an emotional connection.
“These students bond together like no other group I’ve seen,” Hawley said.
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