March 20, 2016, 6:45 p.m.
I joined WBAR with a fairly specific purpose, mainly looking for an outlet to share and expand my (admittedly, somewhat narrow) music taste, underground house and techno. I had arrived at Columbia with a big crate of vinyl dance records, which I had collected over my high school years, but was never able to mix appropriately because I didn’t own the expensive DJ turntables necessary to do so. I plead guilty: like every other teenager in the US, I wanted to learn how to DJ – but DJ the “right” way, through the dying format of vinyl and within the underrepresented genres of house and techno. I had heard WBAR owned a pair of Technics turntables and a decent mixer, so I filled out an application at the start of my freshman fall and sure enough, I was welcomed aboard the WBAR train! That Fall 2014 I was given a 2-4am Monday morning time slot, which contributed greatly to the general grogginess that characterized my Monday morning Frontiers of Science lectures. But I didn’t mind the time all that much. In fact, I viewed my assigned time slot as somewhat freeing, because I knew at the outset that I would be able to practice DJing without the fear of countless others tuning in, listening to me repeatedly screw up. The one issue, which I discovered as soon as my first show: the turntables, which I had longed to experiment with, didn’t work! They were in need of repair due to past abuse – yet another reason handle WBAR equipment with care. So much for my plans of cultivating my nascent vinyl DJ talents – which, if the reader is curious, never did materialize. I nagged then-staff member Miguel about the turntables, who assured me they’d be fixed eventually, but I was rather dubious. Somewhat saddened, I continued with my 2-4am time slot, playing music solely off of my computer for that entire first semester, oftentimes finding myself staring forlornly at the broken devices to my left, quiet, dust-laden, awaiting repair. Close-mindedly, I assumed that the turntables would never be fixed, so I declined applying again that Spring. This decision perhaps derived from my refusal to see WBAR as the community that it really was; instead I had viewed it as my personal platform to which I was entitled benefits such as high-end record players (LOL). That feeling of being let down because I couldn’t do what I wanted to do with my show at the outset was simply left to foment, and wasn’t met with a desire to really get to know other DJs or the staff. I had been fairly uninvolved short of actually attending my show, attending MD meetings, and uploading my playlists. Despite my previous doubts, the turntables were in fact fixed that Spring – which, while encouraging me to get involved again this past Fall, also prompted me to reconsider the relationship I sought to have to WBAR. In addition to re-applying for a show (RUFF HAUS – now in its third semester of airing), I also applied to be part of the WBAR staff, specifically for the position of Music Director. In my application I stressed the need for people to feel as if they were part of WBAR, and not just someone with a WBAR show. I don’t know if I have credibly advanced that purpose as Music Director (I sure hope so!), but I do know that ever since I started putting a lot more time and emotional investment into WBAR - just like anything in life - I started getting a lot more out of it, and made some really great friends in the process. But that doesn't mean you have to be on the staff to truly experience WBAR. In fact, simply showing up to all of our events, covering for someone who's sick, turning your weekly show into a time when you can creatively express yourself in a way that you haven't ever before, or switching it up every so often and delving into some deep cuts - these are all ways of affirming your involvement in a group that both exceeds your in interests in every way and also depends on your interests in every way. Don't do what I did my first semester - that is, simply view it one-dimensionally, as either having or lacking some one particular thing. Instead, view it as something that is shaped by your own decisions, by your own contributions. In a way, WBAR is YOU, and together we can make it count!