Iím 28, I think, now. I was born in 1969. I work at a computer software company called
SAS Institute. Iíve been an administrative assistant there for seven years but Iím
getting ready to move into web support. Iíve been working in the computer support
area of SAS this whole time, and have had the opportunity to learn a lot, so happily I
just had my last secretaries day...For a long time I thought I wanted to be a filmmaker,
so I did stuff with that, but I never really got very far with it. I donít do very much....Do
I have a life? I mean, to be honest, Iím pretty lazy if I don't have a structure in which to
be motivated. I tend to use the station to be like a way to motivate myself to do the
things I want to learn to do. Like the silk screening is a really good example of that and
the computer stuff Iíve done at the station. I mean, that really has nothing to do with
college radio, but itís a good way to do those kinds of things.
This guy got hired as a student to work in my department and around that time he got hired to start working at XDU, and he told me about it...I heard an announcement and I think this was May of 92, thereabouts, saying if you want to be a DJ come to this meeting. So I did. I just trained as a playlist DJ. I had deejayed at WQFS in Greensboro during college, and that had been really good for me so I was happy to have the chance to get back into it, at a place where you didn't have to be a student, the playlist was pretty open and was pretty good, and you know, it was a good sort of flexible atmosphere. I was really bored and was having a lot of trouble meeting people because all of my high school friends had moved away and I really had no one left and I have really bad social skills...and I had no avenues that would lead me out of that problem, so it seemed like a good opportunity to deal with that. To at least have some of my time occupied. And it turned out to be a really good social mechanism too.
I was 2-5 am for a whole frigginí year. I worked, so Friday night at 2 am was the best they could give me...I mean, I had the worst insomnia ever when I had that show. It just completely screwed my whole life up, sleepwise anyway. But I was so dedicated, I just couldn't stop (sarcastically)...I remember being really paranoid before going up for my first show because I had been out of the loop musically for about two or three years. I knew a lot of the stuff that I had been interested in college was really not appropriate to play at XDU. And it really wasn't stuff I wanted to play at XDU. So I remember going around to different people whose musical tastes and interests I respect and trying to get them to tell me what to listen to and give me some recommendations.
When I was first at XDU, I had a building interest in what we call world music now. And there wasn't that much of it on the playlist then. I mean, this was before the one non-rock requirement per hour and the music directors had different musical interests. I mean, it was Matt Walter, from Small 23, so his strongest musical interest is obviously going to be indie-rock and I couldn't really deal with that at all. I really didn't like it at all. I still don't. Ann Gomez was the music director for a while and she was just superb. She put a lot of world music on the playlist She put techno on the playlist and everybody screamed about it and hated it and I loved it. And I have her to thank for that interest. And then Jeremy came along and we started getting really weird stuff on the playlist, you know, industrial noise, droning sort of Gate type stuff and that was like very intriguing to me. At that time I was really pleased that that was happening. So yeah, my tastes have definitely evolved a lot. I think the reason I stopped doing a show a few months ago was because my musical interests went way down. I don't really know why, but Iím not as interested in music as I have always been for some reason. I think probably being a DJ for 4 years or however long it was, straight, probably had something to do with it.
When I first started working there it was obvious to me that I was surrounded by people who were really cool that I would want to be friends with, but I was still too shy to do anything about it, without the further mechanism of being on the board to help me along. That's just me. I donít' think it was very long after I got to the station, really, that I joined the board. The PSA director job came up and that seemed like very non- threatening and something I could easily do and a way to meet more people and get involved at the station. It worked out pretty well...[the board] gave me like a project for a long time. And it still does give me sort of a project to work on...My survival's not tied up in it in any way. It's an avenue for learning. And it's an avenue for developing relationships with people. And it's also an avenue for maintaining something that I think has a very strong cultural benefit for this area. So being on the board was obviously the best way to get into that.
There's this vast amount of music produced and recorded on CD that most people are just blissfully unaware of, just completely and totally unaware of. There's so much more music that isnít heard than that is, by the general public...I guess I have always been someone who has produced some sort of creative output, no matter how meager, throughout their whole life, so I feel really strongly about any type of artistic output from anyone, you know? I don't think that, that itís anyone's job to judge what is valid and what is not valid. So college radio comes pretty close to not placing a lot of judgements on what's valid and what isn't. At least in the world of radio. I just see it as part of an important set of relationships in the world of music.
I think the best thing that we offer to the Duke undergrads is an opportunity to find people who are really good role models and to get out of the sort of closed social and even physical world that is the world of a Duke undergrad. Which, I didn't go to Duke, so I don't know what it's like, but it strikes me as being an unhealthy place in many ways for a lot of people. .. Just from being at the station for a while and such it seems pretty obvious that we're not well-liked by the student body in general. That they feel upset that they're money is going towards us, or they want to change our programming, or they are completely and totally unaware of our existence, at best...We don't really take up a lot of their money. The building we're in I believe is condemned, it's not handicapped accessible at any rate, so it really couldn't be used for anyone. And as I said, we offer a place for those who find us to grow and form relationships with people outside of Duke and to explore musical culture and stuff. I don't think its really an accident that we're in the same buildling as the Institute of the Arts. I think that actually says a lot about our purpose that people don't really think about. I mean, Duke is in the business of giving back to the community that supports it and I think thatís one thing we do, really well actually. Or more when we've got a tower.
Iíve been just dumbfounded by how people have almost not even questioned that we should stay on the air 24-7-365 and we have no idea who can actually hear us. Which makes me think that having or not having listeners doesn't make that much difference to people. That they're on the air for other reasons. Because I mean, as charismatic as our programming staff is, there is no way they could be single-handedly motivating everyone to stay on the air. People are doing it because they want to and obviously having a listenership doesn't have anything to do with that. Which is really interesting actually, but it's really good. I think although it's kind of bad for moral, to know that you're not really broadcasting to anyone, in another sense, at least for the board, it's given us a reason to pull together more. It's also given us a reason to publicize to the community, and that's not something we did a very good job of for the several years that I was at XDU.
I think our playlist is better than most places. I think we have really good music directors. There have always been people who have set high standards for the station, both how the music directors behave themselves and put together the playlist and how the programming directors hold things together and how he general manager runs things. That has sort of been somehow imbedded in the XDU philosophy. That imperative has almost been carried down almost silently throughout the years, to maintain high standards of programming and what not. So I think just our commitment to being an excellent college radio station that doesn't compromise is one thing that makes us really special. I think that XDU has reasonably good consistency over time, as far as maintaining high standards... I think we come out on the high end of stations in general and a lot of that is we're in the right place at the right time.
My experience at XDU kind of leads me to believe having a lot of women in leadership positions makes a big difference. Cause when I got there, the general manager, the music director and the programming director were all men, and those are really the three people who make things go. Then, over time we've evolved to where we have our third general manager in a row who's a women, we have the third programming director who's a women since Iíve been here, and a music staff who's run by committee but has two women as primary music directors. Board meetings are pleasant to go to, things run smoothly, we have an idea and we act on it, instead of just letting it slide or evaporate into nothingness. It's really rewarding and I really, I 've always been wary of gender-based generalizations, but I really think that has something to do with whoís running the station.
I think that the more student involvement we can have the better, as long as things are still good. Obviously people who are older are more mature and a lot of times they're more responsible, so I think it would be bad to not have any community members...I think students are more willing to do those tough jobs becuase a) they don't really know what they're getting into, b) they're less likely to have children or family life to take care of. And they have more energy.
I think it's a community for a small number of people and those people are usually on the board. When I trained people I would try to emphasize to them that there is no "they" at the station. "You" are "They" you know, the station's running depends on you. I always tell people that board meetings are open and anyone can come. Actually we really like people to come because weíre sick of looking at each other's faces. I mean its interesting to see someone else come. But yeah, it's definitely intimidating. I don't know what really more could be done about that.
Over the years Iíve learned to deal with my frustration that it's a volunteer organization. Iíve learned that, not to lower my expectations of people, but to be careful of what my expectations are of the people I work with at the station...It's a frustrating thing to not always accomplish what we see could be accomplished, if only people would do more, or if only people would read the public service announcements, or whatever thing it is that we want to do. It's given me the opportunity to grow personally to deal with that. I think that that's the one major frustration I have with XDU. It's a volunteer organization and you guide people. You don't tell them what they're duties are, you ask them if they are able to do something. And they may say yes, they may say no. There may not be anyone to do a thing that needs to be done and that thing is left undone and people are unhappy.
Why is XDU necessary? Cause if it weren't there I would be bored. I would have moved to San Francisco or NY by now. It's just, obviously people are interested in it. Obviously a large enough number of people that it maintains itself year after year. It's very existence validifies itself.