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College Radio in a Class of its Own

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ORONO - WMEB 91.9 is the college radio station out of University of Maine in Orono. It is student-run and non-profit, allowing the station the opportunity to operate however it wants. With that freedom, they have decided to try to make a radio station that plays music that you wouldn't hear on a commercial station.

As a frequent listener, I love being able to turn to 91.9 having no idea what I will hear. Will it be an underground hip-hop track that is only a few days old or jazz odyssey from the '60s? You could find yourself listening to club music in the afternoon followed directly by a block of funk in the evening.

The common factor is that the DJs love music. Matt Derrah is one of those DJs. His show, 'Sunny Side Up,' can be heard Tuesdays from noon until 2.

'I personally have always had in interest in broadcasting music, especially if it could be at a local area. I always remember tuning into 91.9 and hearing a wide variety of music genres. The station always had something different.' After seeing a WMEB table at a UMaine club fair, Derrah signed up to be a DJ. He now plays a wide variety of music, including funk, jazz, soul and reggae.

Jack Sullivan is one of the two music directors. He is in charge of being in contact with promotional companies. 'The (promotional companies) main purpose is to get obscure bands airtime on the radio, which they have no hope of doing on most top 40 radio stations, so that's where college radio comes into play,' Sullivan said.

This year, the station received about 65 applications. They even had to turn some down some shows, which is the first time that has happened in several years. It wasn't long ago that WMEB had only about a dozen shows. This semester, it looks like the Robo-DJ (the automated play list for when there are no shows) will be getting a lot less airtime.

Sullivan added, 'We have programming from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day now and it is completely filled with live DJs.' The DJs are given free reign with what they play. The only caveat is that it is supposed to be music that you wouldn't hear elsewhere on the radio.

It isn't just music that WMEB offers either. The other major component of the station is the live coverage of most UMaine sports. Derrah commented on the sports side of the station, 'For the most part, you won't be able to see UMaine games on TV, but you can still listen to them on the radio. Our sports directors and commentators are excellent at what they do, and they really help make WMEB more of a great station to listen to.'

Derrah also pointed out what he thinks makes the station truly special. 'I find that DJs on other stations are 'personalities' and give off a larger-than-thou vibe. Listening to the DJs on WMEB is like listening to your old friend talk about cool music that they want to share with you.'

Last modified on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 19:27


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