Student disc jockeys take back the airwaves

While most students were asleep in their beds or cramming in some last-minute studying, University sophomore Allie Gavette was alone in the Erb Memorial Union disc jockeying for the University radio station KWVA 88.1.

Between the hours of 2 and 8 a.m., commonly referred to as the “safe harbor” hours at the station, new disc jockeys have their shifts. After working at the radio station for three months, Gavette, also known as “DJ Alliecat,” and has recently been promoted to a day shift on Mondays from 3 to 4 p.m.

“Although it might not seem like it, people actually do listen to KWVA from 2 to 4 a.m., or from 4 to 6 a.m. I had a caller a couple of weeks ago who wanted to know where he could find the music I played. It’s nice getting instant gratification when a listener says they
really enjoy what I just played,” Gavette said.

The University radio station provides an alternative outlet for a wide variety of musical tastes to come together on the same station. Although many students work for the station in one- to two-hour shifts, there is also room for community members to get involved.

“Community members are able to DJ in addition to UO students, which is a really cool way for the community to get involved with the University,” Gavette said.

As a journalism student, Gavette enjoys all forms of communication, including audio and music.

“I truly believe I am getting a musical education by working at the station,” she said. “The first time you go in and see the music lining the walls of the studio, you realize that there is so much more out there in the world of music than you could imagine.”

KWVA requires all DJs to do six hours of volunteering a month outside of their normal shifts at the station, which can include filling shows or tabling at the EMU.

Although most DJs find it difficult to sum up their musical tastes in just a few genres, Gavette uses tracks from her iTunes collections. In addition to the occasional new music sent to the station from record labels, Gavette plays everything from the Arctic Monkeys and Mark Ronson to The Doors and Imogen Heap.

When she first started working at the radio station in November, Gavette only knew some of the bands featured on the posters and stickers that adorn the walls of the studio.

“I definitely know of a lot more bands now,” Gavette said. “I think music is an important part of life. I mean everyone has different tastes, but it’s a way of connecting with people and experiencing something together.”

Sophomore Jerica Pitts sat in with Gavette during a tabling session at the

Common Grounds Café a few weeks ago. After setting up a bunch of equipment and speakers, Gavette disc jockeyed at the café for an hour and a half into the late evening, Pitts said.

“I would describe Allie’s disc jockeying style as kind of new age music with lots of
independent artists, and it’s just really easy to listen to and relaxing. You have a good time while you’re listening to it,” Pitts said.

As one of the youngest DJs at the radio station, Gavette’s music selections have an
independent quality.

“She’s a lot younger than everyone else, so that makes her music selections a bit different. I don’t know if her musical tastes have changed since she started jockeying because of that, but while she’s been at the station her musical tastes have definitely grown,” Pitts said.

Charlotte Nisser, the general manager at KWVA, said that disc jockeying really benefits a student’s experience at the University.

“It provides skills and confidence that really can’t be gained in any other way; it goes further into providing an opportunity to learn about music and share that with the community,” Nisser said.

Unlike most radio stations, KWVA’s music is selected by all DJs rather than prerecorded audio and playlists from around the country. The campus radio station strives to meet the needs of the community and always offers diverse and dynamic music that can’t be heard anywhere else, Nisser said.

“I’ve always been a big music lover, so this seemed like a cool way to devote a little time to something I really like and to share my favorite artists with the world,” Gavette said.

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