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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

KDVS DJs broadcast their eclectic music worldwide

In the basement of Freeborn Hall lies a dream job for most college students: broadcasting your music choices and opinions to everyone willing to tune into the 90.3 frequency.

There are 130 DJs at KDVS, the heavily UC Davis student-run and operated radio station, who broadcast their passion for music every quarter, 24 hours a day. In addition, KDVS also relies on about 100 volunteers to keep the station running.

There is no way to describe a typical KDVS show or DJ – except that they are all different. Neil Rudd, a junior political science major and KDVS general manager, said that with so many musical tastes, it’s difficult to predict what will be playing on the station at any given moment.

“Punk and rock are some of the more popular genres, but it’s really just all over the place,” he said.

Rick Ele, a lifelong Davis resident, started listening to KDVS when he was 10.

“I flipped through every radio station on the dial looking for stations that played music conducive to break dancing and finally stumbled across KDVS,” he said. “I was blown away by all of it and never stopped listening after that.”

Ele eventually came back to Davis for college, started volunteering at KDVS and has been DJing since 1994.

Michael Mastrangelo, a UC Davis alumnus, started at KDVS five years ago as a first-year after hearing about the station during summer advising. He has since hosted during every available time slot and many genres of music shows ranging from hardcore rock to what he calls “experimental collages” to the top KDVS hits he plays now.

Roxanne Calimeris, a junior American studies major, is hosting her first show this quarter after struggling to decide whether or not to host.

“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to DJ because I felt like it was me forcing the world to hear what I thought was really good music” she said. “But there are not that many good hip-hop shows so I just did it.”

Calimeris focuses her show on a theme each week. One week was “lil week” featuring artists with the title “lil” in their name. Another was food themed and she’s preparing for an upcoming show with new Bay Area hip-hop.

Rudd said that DJs vary in how they find the music to play on their shows. Some look through the vast KDVS music library, some read music blogs or do research online and others hear about new music from friends or musicians.

Ele said that his show features primarily new music from his purchases as a record collector.

“I collect mostly brand new music that I think will be collectible in the future,” he said. “[It’s] mostly in the vein of garage punk. A lot of it is noise and some of it is kind of progressive. A word people apply a lot is ‘weird.'”

Mastrangelo, who plays KDVS’s top hits, simply looks at the online playlist system for the top ten records played over the last two weeks to choose his music. He also plays music that has been recently added as well as creates “sound collages,” which consist of playing and mixing multiple tracks at once.

Some KDVS DJs go on to make a career in the music and radio industry, Rudd said, while for others it remains a hobby.

Calimeris said that although she doesn’t want to be a professional DJ, she hopes to use music and possibly KDVS as tool for bring opportunities to youth. She currently works with youth in a juvenile detention center, where she said she has seen the importance of music in their lives.

“I want to keep KDVS and music as a resource throughout my life for people who otherwise don’t have an outlet,” she said.

The DJs all said that KDVS is a good place to get involved and meet interesting new people.

“I’ve really benefited from the knowledge that KDVS has to offer – through archives and the people who work there who are so open to sitting down and talking about [for instance] history of Celtic folk music,” Calimeris said.

“It’s a very accepting atmosphere,” Mastrangelo said.

Ele said that despite the perception that the radio station is an exclusive club, KDVS is for everyone.

“I think if more people knew about this music they’d like it, so why not give it a chance,” he said. “This music is for everyone.”

The best part about working as a DJ, Ele said, is inspiring listeners with music.

“It really redeems the value of radio at a time when people think it’s a completely dead media,” he said.

“It’s an underground radio station that plays underground music and I know that can be a turnoff, but everyone should just give it a shot, there’s something for everyone,” Calimeris said. “It’s really one of those gems of UC Davis that makes it more than an educational institution.”

Those interested in getting involved at KDVS or becoming a DJ can attend a quarterly class to learn about musicology and FCC regulations. Volunteers with 50 hours in one quarter are eligible to apply for a show.

Listeners can tune in at 90.3 in Davis or listen to show archives at kdvs.org.

KELLY KRAG-ARNOLD can be reached at features@theaggie.org.


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