Welcome to part five of my series of college radio music director interview excerpts from the QRD "Radio Special" issue.
Much thanks to QRD founder (and Silber Records chief) Brian John Mitchell for giving me permission to share bits of his fine interviews. For more on the background of this project, see my interview with Brian, which goes into detail about his process for selecting stations and about his connection with college radio.
This week, I'm covering highlights from Brian's interview with Keri Fico, Music Director of Stony Brook University (New York) station WUSB-FM. Around since 1977, WUSB is a freeform station broadcasting over FM, campus television, and the Internet. Their volunteer staff of DJs is made up of students, faculty, university staff, alumni, and community residents. In addition to locally-produced programming, they also air nationally syndicated shows like "Democracy Now."
In her interview with Brian John Mitchell, Music Director Keri Fico talks about what it takes to be a good MD, how much she enjoys interacting with labels and promoters, her thoughts about digital releases, and her feeling that the "younger generation" of DJs is actually underestimated. She mentions that DJs at WUSB have complete control to play what they want, including vinyl, CDs and MP3s. The station doesn't have a rotation system for new releases and most shows are "specialty" shows.
Keri also talks about the Music Director fantasy that she had before taking the position (getting mail with her name on it!) and how the job still fulfilled her expectations:
QRD – Why did you want the position of music director & why do you think got it over other applicants?
Keri – I wanted the position of music director because I wanted mail to come in with my name on it… honestly. I thought that would be really cool & it was. I wanted to talk to record labels & be the first to hear all the new music. I think I got the job because I was overly excited about it. My enthusiasm seriously proved how much I wanted the position.
QRD – What are the best & worst parts of your job?
Keri – The best part of being music director is feeling cool. It’s really awesome to say I talk to labels. It’s awesome to get CDs. It’s awesome to be a part of CMJ. It’s awesome to go to shows for free. I get to be the first to hear the newest music. The worst part of the job is that it is life consuming. All my free time is spent doing radio work.
She goes on to discuss the role that both vinyl and MP3s play at the station and her thoughts about digitizing the station library:
QRD – I imagine a lot of the younger generation of DJs pretty much exclusively use MP3s over CDs (much less vinyl). How do you feel about the situation?
Keri – I think the younger generation is underestimated. Vinyl is still highly used & valued at WUSB. A lot of people have an intense CD collection as well. MP3s are definitely taking over & I think that’s fine. DJs can hook up their Ipod or MP3 player & play their tunes from there.
QRD – Do you try to get your entire catalog digitally encoded on a hard drive for radio play?
Keri – No way. There’s been discussion about digitally cataloging our music library, but those are plans for the future. There is some music available on the hard drive, but everything can be found in the new music rack or the CD cabinets.
Coming up next week will be excerpts from Brian John Mitchell's interview with the Music Director from University of Victoria (British Columbia, Canada) campus and community radio station CFUV-FM.
Previous QRD MD Interviews:
Interview with Brian of Silber Records about QRD Radio Music Director Issue
QRD Music Director Interviews Part 1 - Wesleyan's WESU
QRD Music Director Interviews Part 2 - McGill's CKUT
QRD Music Director Interviews Part 3 - UMass Dartmouth's WUMD
QRD Music Director Interviews Part 4 - University of Georgia's WUOG
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