In my twenty years of life, I’ve had a few weird jobs. These jobs have covered various industries and presented a unique set of intensive learning curves and small business politics. For someone my age, an odd job is needed because of the pay, which could be enough to get you to Coachella or financially keep your head above water.
This past May, I did something different, I started a new job that involves no pay. I became music director at KCPR. This job has most of the weird quirks and politics when compared to my past jobs. To those unfamiliar with the inner-workings of a college radio station, the music director listens to and considers the music for airplay on the station’s frequency. The job includes listening to large quantities of music and for anyone with the slightest bit of passion for audible expression, this job seems like heaven.
Listening is a huge part of it and is one of the things that I enjoy most, but it is more complicated than that.
In just four months, I learned more here than I have in any other job. It comes with the responsibility of creating the station’s sound, pleasing the stakeholders and asking for help is crucial in any setting.
My music taste covers a lot of different kinds and it was what initially attracted me to become part of this. On a weekly basis, I get sent records of a multitude of styles and genres; but the key is that not just anything can go up on the air. Part of the goal of college radio is to create a varied sound that’s different compared to the stations in the area.
At first, I was quick to add anything that sounded good into the station’s music rotation. But with time this method became labor intensive and I discovered that albums would not make it on the air more than once.
I learned that I had to look at the selection process in a different way. I have to focus on tweaking and creating the station’s identity through the music that is played on air. Some selection decisions are easier than others but many times I’m wrong about what the station needs in its sound. Through this, I’ve also learned that it is okay to be wrong because it helps me fix the mistakes.
Knowing when I’m wrong and fixing my mistakes goes hand in hand with being able to make everyone within and outside of the station happy. The goal of KCPR is and will always be to entertain. It is the one thought that I always have in the back of my mind every time I set foot in the office.
I have to create a music collection that will entertain listeners, our staff and the promoters that send music for airplay consideration. Each week, the hard task is dealing with hundreds of albums and the sets of people who care about them getting heard. When an album doesn’t make the cut, the crucial skill is being able to explain the why to that set of people.
At the end of the day, it is my responsibility to make the final decision and the concerned parties know to respect that. My final decision comes with the common courtesy of supplying constructive feedback to the rejected albums. The act of rejecting work from those within the music industry can be scary but fortunately, they respond well to thoughtful feedback.
The most important lesson I’ve learned from all of this is that asking for help is extremely crucial. I had no training or earlier experience for this position and the first weeks were extremely daunting. But I found help from those within the music industry when I looked for it. The helpful connection also comes into play when I’m trying to get ahold of a specific album to add-on.
I love this job more than any other one and I hope to have similar ones in the future. It is full of lessons, lots of learning, weird quirks and politics. I love it, I love music and I love working with people who also love music.