I spent a lot of time at WCDB Albany in the ’90s. That was college radio’s moment. Listenership may have peaked in the late ’80s, but the rewards were our generation’s to reap.
I fondly remember representing CDB at the 1996 Gavin radio conference in Atlanta, GA – driving all the way down there with Alex Dubovoy, Adam Monaco and Rob Babecki, no cash in my pockets, hauling a sack of dirty laundry because the Rebellion had played the night before we left and I was too preoccupied with gig prep to do a wash. My trip fund was a Ziploc bag of quarters, most of which I blew at a 24-hour laundromat when we pulled into town at 4am. We were in Atlanta for four days and I didn’t have to spend a dime on food or entertainment – if you had a badge with college radio call-letters on it, labels would just sort of take care of you. The promotions folks didn’t care if you broadcasted at 10 watts from a bathroom stall. They wanted your spins!
CMJ was the most important magazine in the universe back then. That seems really funny now.
I was not a WCDB DJ. I did the training, but it never occurred to me to take the tests and get a timeslot. All of my friends had shows, and most of them had musical tastes which at least overlapped with mine, so I was comfortable just hanging out. You don’t have to DJ to be a station member… I went to all the meetings and was assistant music director one year. 1995, maybe?
When I moved back to Albany, my friend Joe Schepis introduced me to a couple of the current DJs. Joe has been the station’s patron saint since the early ’90s. He graduated from UAlbany before I did, but his passion for radio, spectrum of technological skills, and generosity have kept him in the mix all these years – the students know who to call when things get really fucked up. And his voice can be heard on WCDB almost every hour; most of the station IDs and promos Joe recorded almost two decades ago remain in regular use.
Through Joe I met Andrew White and Eric Michelson, two awesome 2010-vintage DJs who convinced me to return to the station. I was working on campus anyway, so I figured why not? I finally got my DJ clearance and weekly slot that fall, 17 years after I started training.
Being at WCDB is so much fun… I love the current group of station members, and I’m actually glad I waited this long to become a DJ. With the collapse of the format, much of the pomp and pretense has drained out of college radio. Now we’re free to spin what we like, stretch out and be ourselves. Ragged and raw is a lot more acceptable than it was back in the day – some DJs still do a superpro job, but it’s because that’s their way, not because we’re mandated to an arbitrary standard. The overall result is content that’s much more personal, genuine and endearing than college radio could afford to be back when everyone was up its ass.
I’m on the air every Monday morning from 10am until noon Eastern time. The stuff I spin is as eclectic as the stuff I write, and if you enjoy my music at all (that is why you’re visiting this website, right?) you’ll probably like my radio show. You can listen in Albany at 90.9 on the FM dial; WCDB also has a live webstream, which you can access from any computer OR your smartphone’s music player. So you don’t have to be in Albany to listen. My show is called I Fix Mondays, and even if you’re stuck at a desk in a dreary office I will do my best to help kickstart your shit.