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Larking For A Good Cause: Guest DJ at CD102.5

Confirmation, notes, and other important info for a guest DJ stint
In many ways, radio has gone the way of other old-school media forms like television and newspaper. Once the only game in town for miles around, radio has run up against competing forms of media, especially with the rise of the internet. In addition, the way music has reached the listening public has diversified, sucking away the listeners and the corresponding advertisement dollars.

This has lead to consolidation within the radio market. Indeed, it is hard not to hear a radio station identification on the hour without entities like Clear Channel, Cumulus or Disney being mentioned. In California, some of the stations I grew up listening to or learning about (The Quake KQAK or Los Angeles' KROQ) are now part of corporate entities for the most part. Numerous mom and pop-styled operations also now broadcast over that very same Internet, due to its relatively lesser cost.

From listening to those stations, I became involved a couple decades or so ago (both as a deejay and the news division) with a completely independent format station back in college (I'm happy to say my former home forges onward more strongly than ever, with even more antenna wattage and an actual record label promoting local music to its name.) Numerous sessions in the listening room to prepare for shows were invaluable in expanding my knowledge of music styles I had been unfamiliar with prior such as reggae, folk and hardcore. Only a huge case of "broke-ass-college-student" syndrome kept my record collection modest, but I am happy with what I was able to get my hands on during those halcyon days.

This older-styled radio board, now a display piece in CD 102.5's offices,
was the technology I was more familiar with back in the day
In this way, I have developed an appreciation for radio "loners". In some senses, being an independent commercial radio station is even a tougher task, which was one reason I loved learning of CD102.5's history as such when I moved to Columbus as a mom-and-pop styled, independently run station that focused on more alternate music groups for its entire time broadcasting. In addition, their big support of local bands was also a unique aspect that I truly appreciated, as I had also begun to get to know and enjoy the very diverse music scene here in the area. 

Thus, when they announced they were launching an ambitious crowdfunding effort in an attempt to purchase their broadcasting license, I became immediately interested. One of the more unique rewards offered was a chance to host an hour on the air, and those old in-the-studio broadcasting juices started running through my mind again. It wasn't cheap, but I convinced myself that it was a worthy lark (and my birthday and my Christmas present to myself for the year) and went all in.

Shhh...be very very quiet...there are broadcasters inside
After arranging the date of the broadcast via e-mail, I worked out a music set. I had originally set up a very diverse playing list, but in the end my college-era training to avoid wide swings in music styles took over, and I went with a mainly hard-rocking, guitar-oriented set list that covered over three decades, including some of the local bands I had grown familiar with during my time here.

While I was informed I could show up to 15 minutes before the actual start of the broadcast, I knew cutting it close would just simply make me more nervous than I already was. Thus, I arrived in plenty of time and caught a gander of CD102.5's main office space. In many ways, the space reminded me of my old haunt: a very informal and casual vibe dominated, with numerous examples of music media and other related displays scattered throughout.

My nerves were eased as well by some casual chatter with some of CD102.5's friendly in-house staffers. While modern conveniences have made certain things easier (sans the Internet, my old radio station's entertainment calendar was written on paper, culled from the event listings of numerous area newspapers), I got the sense long hours are put in by these folks here to all the necessary promotions, events, interviews and the like to keep the station competitive and interactive with the community, similar to when I was back in college.

Things were made a lot easier with friendly banter and
tutelage of Program Director/deejay/radio guru Lesley James 
CD102.5 Program Director/deejay/radio guru Lesley James was simply awesome; she was an incredibly welcoming presence to work with for my stint. She was perfect at guiding me of when I needed to speak louder, to sell both the finishing and following songs (thankfully I took extra notes with me), and when certain segments were upcoming.  

The computerized setup used at the station reminded me how long ago it had been since I had been in the studio (three turntables and a cassette deck were my main audio playback devices), but even then, she said this was older equipment they were using. If nothing else, the setup allowed us to chat and trade stories a lot easier, which I enjoyed immensely. Back in the day, that type of conversation would've been less likely, as I needed time to queue up records as well as preparing carts (basically, old 8-track cassettes) of pre-recorded announcements for playback.

In the end, I had a really wonderful experience with the folks at CD102.5, and while the ultimate goal of buying the license wasn't reached, the money helped the station renegotiate their lease for several more years. On a personal level, I did show I still had some broadcast chops after some initial jitters. Another opportunity to guest DJ here would be an awesome thing to do (I would highly consider it for sure), but to paraphrase lyrics from a certain Pacific Northwest-based band I played during my set, even if it was this one time back in the studio, this "one more time is good enough for me."

As stated on their website, "CD102.5 has been locally & independently owned operated, with the same format for 25 years. That statement alone makes us a different kind of radio station in today's media world." You can check them out on the radio (of course) in the Columbus metro area at 102.5 FM, or check out their website and social media outlets at the following links:
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