These Stags don’t dread Mondays.
When night falls and the lower level BCC is quiet, a dim glass cube in the WVOF studio buzzes with Jess Mendes ‘14, Taylor Webb ’14 and David “Duzzo” Velasquez ‘14’s pursuit of a different kind of radio program.
They call it Very Rare Radio, and the playlist of songs Webb compiles every week for the show is designed to open their audience to new, but under the radar hip hop.
It’s 8:03 p.m. and Velasquez is opening the show with a rundown of what is planned for the next two hours. The first hour is on the FM band, but after 9:00 p.m. the trio relocates to WVOF’s web studio across the hall.
“That’s when it gets really cool,” Velasquez says. Web streaming allows for less censorship.
After Velasquez opens, Mendes moves the show to a rundown of the week’s pop culture news. The report is accented with commentary or backstory from Velasquez and Webb. All three may not know exactly what each other is going to say throughout the show, but the three are familiar enough with hip hop to maintain informed conversation.
“I took for granted the way people speak on the radio, I thought it would be kind of easy, but it’s kind of not … you gotta be on your game. It took me awhile to be comfortable with the mic, to articulate better. It’s not easy,” Velasquez said.
Webb’s playlist gets the most airtime on the show, with some of the most frequently played artists including Chief Keef, TheDailyLoud and Curious, according to the show’s 8tracks.com page.
About 30 minutes into the show, Velasquez says that a good beat is on the air, so he decides to pull out a notebook with some recent lyrics he’s scribbled and freestyle on-air.
“My dream job is to make money off of rap music, get a career off that,” Velasquez said. He made sure to give shoutouts to anyone that mentioned the freestyle on social media at the time. All three DJs keep an eye on their personal Facebook accounts, Twitter (#StayRare) or other platforms affiliated with the show during the broadcast.
Webb and Mendes both envision a future as creative directors for music, fashion or other outlets. They try to prepare for those aspirations on the show.
“We try to keep it organized, but we try to keep it fun. “It’s like you just put up some borders, but then you fill it in with whatever colors you want,” Mendes said.
Webb laughed, noting that Mendes also is usually the one to keep the show on pace.
“I feel like having a radio show here has shown me there’s so much more you can do,” Webb said. “Everybody thinks you can do just the mainstream thing; ‘OK, we have to play these 20 songs, we have to talk about these subjects,’ but there’s other outlets. Like Sirius XM is kind of similar to this, but you’re getting paid for it. You get to do whatever you want. The underground scape has a future career possibility. I feel like there’s so much more that you can do with radio than what’s being led on … Radio’s not gonna die, you just gotta find ways to keep it alive.”
Later during the online-only hour, Mendes looked to an open debate about what makes a song a classic. An open dialogue isn’t rare on the show, but for the first time ever, Velasquez tried to further his opinion by holding his phone up to his personal microphone and playing music.
“There’s no guidelines,” Mendes said. “Our creativity can get as creative as we want it to.”
After the show, StagBus driver Glen McClain happened to walk by the three. He said the usual: “Good job! I’m listenin’!”
“That’s what’s up,” Velasquez said with a smile.
Webb said the popular impression is that radio is not cool to listen to, “but we’re providing music that’s cool and edgy … we’re doing the opposite of what the mainstream radio is doing and I think that’s really fun.”