Good Morning, and Good Luck: Musings of a Radio DJ
November 5, 2015
Jules Greene ’19
When I was in high school, I knew I wanted to become involved with the radio station of whatever college I ended up going to. In fact, I decided that I wouldn't apply to a college or university if it didn't have a radio station. It was plain and simple, and between my personal academic requirement that the school have departments for both music and film (which I discovered is somewhat rare amongst liberal arts colleges), this further narrowed the scope of the schools I was looking at.
I didn't come up with the idea for my current show, Sounds of the Silver Screen, until a few days before the application deadline. I was stressing because I was aware that I now went to a school where if I painted my face like Ziggy Stardust for Halloween, I wouldn't be caught in a situation where my video teacher was the only person to recognize my costume (which is what happened to me when I was in the tenth grade, by the way). In other words, I was aware that my music tastes probably aren't such a novelty here like they were in high school, and now I had to really examine and soul-search to find the niche that would set me apart in what I imagined to be a sea of applications.
I found this little nook to be in the realm of movie soundtracks, and when I finally came upon it, I felt like hitting myself in the head and saying, "Duh, Juliette!" because it was so obvious to me yet I totally hadn't considered it until then. The sections I went to first in all my favorite record stores were reserved to soundtracks, and I get personally offended when a store doesn't have one. In the musical landscape of my childhood, some major albums that shaped my tastes and perceptions included the soundtracks to Zach Braff's Garden State (I mean, who didn't listen to that soundtrack in the mid-aughts?), Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette. It has been through the soundtracks of Sofia Coppola movies in particular that I've discovered some of my favorite artists, such as The Strokes and the French electronica duo Air. With my show, I'd be playing off of my knowledge of movies in general (as both a student of film and a filmmaker), as well as my knowledge of music. The title of the show itself is sort of a reference to my favorite LCD Soundsystem album, "Sound of Silver," mashed with "the silver screen" nickname that is used for the movie industry.
In filling out the programming application, I wasn't sure how I should categorize my show into a genre. One of my favorite things about the soundtrack genre is that it can be every musical genre at once, but not. I could have decided to focus solely on composers such as John Williams, Alexandre Desplat, Steven Price, Hans Zimmer, Tan Dun, Danny Elfman, etc., but even amongst them, there's often significant variation from film to film. So I opted to put my show under the "freeform" category. In making the sample playlist for my application, I disregarded several drafts that I found to be "basic" in the selection of films that it featured. For hours I wrestled with myself to find the perfect fifteen songs that didn't feature too many Sofia Coppola movies and had absolutely NO songs from a Wes Anderson flick (I love him, but I didn't want to be too obvious in my choices).
My first thought when I opened the email saying that my show had been picked for the fall program was "Oh my god, I'm going to play the Jurassic Park theme song so many times." I had an expectation that my show was going to be at a really obscure time slot in the middle of the night, so I was already thinking about ways that I could make it nighttime atmospheric or just plain weird. But when I checked the programming schedule outside the station in Wilder, I didn't see my show on any of the cards in the late night to early morning slots, or on any of the weekdays. Thus, it came as a shock to me when I saw the card with my name and show on it, right in front of my face, in the 9 A.M. Saturday slot. "Wow. I can actually promote this then," I thought before I excitedly texted my mother and sister about it.
So far, I've found the experience of being a DJ on WOBC to be wonderful and fulfilling. Talking into the microphone to speak over the airwaves has been particularly exciting for me because it makes me feel like the broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow (George Clooney directed a movie about him called Good Night, and Good Luck) or Franklin Delano Roosevelt as he gave his nationwide Fireside Chats during World War II. But those are gross exaggerations of what I'm actually doing, which usually is just me trying to sound refined as I nerd out about some movie I like for a minute or two.
Perhaps my favorite thing about my radio experiences has been the solitude. I generate and research the playlists that I put on each week, and don't discuss them with anyone (because why would I?) until they get broadcast. I get up at 7:30 the morning of my show (I probably don't need to wake up that early but I do anyways), I walk into town and get the same breakfast food each time, and then I sit outside Wilder and look out for any cats that go roaming by until it's time to get into the studio. Once it's time for the changeover at the hour, I set up my laptop and/or any records and it's me alone at the controls and the mic for the next hour. Maybe it's because I grew up as the youngest sibling, but I truly relish this bit of autonomy where I can play my own music (so long as it follows FCC regulations pertaining to language like curse words, etc.) and work the mechanics of everything all on my own without anyone older than me telling me to do this or that. That said, I have a feeling it would get a bit lonely doing all of this during a late night or an early morning slot, when it's dark outside and most of Lorain County is asleep. But who knows, maybe I'll have a show during those hours one day, and that's when I'll find out for sure.