Though many campus clubs cut productions and meetings in the past academic year, the student-run radio station WPTS managed to get new DJs on the station and in the air, including freshmen Margaret Balich and Stacy Cermer.
Like so many other groups, WPTS meetings have been moved to Zoom. Only a limited number of people were allowed in the William Pitt Union studio at any one time. Meanwhile, the Pitt community crew has continued to provide the same enjoyment of new, lesser-known music that has been their mission since 1979.
Balich, a film and English writer, said she has always shared an interest in music with her family.
“My dad actually applied to be a radio DJ for WPTS when he went to Pitt and he was turned down,” she said with a laugh. At WPTS, Balich bears the name DJ Bae and has been hosting her weekly show “The Daydream Mix” every Monday since October 2020. She chose this show theme to broaden her horizons about the types of music she was listening to.
“I found some of my new favorite artists by finding music for my show,” she said, citing bands like Protomartyr and The Anti-Queens.
Cermer, a major in psychology, history, and the philosophy of science, said WPTS was one of the easiest clubs to operate during the pandemic.
“Most of the things I have to do for my show can be done by myself in the studio,” said Cermer, who runs a show called Apocalypse Now that she started in the spring semester. Cermer chose an Apocalypse theme because she found it appropriate for the current state of the world: “It feels like the Apocalypse is happening, but it’s slow and boring. I want it to sound cooler. ”
Both Balich and Cermer went through similar processes to get their show on air. They started with a DJ training session that ended with a quiz that asked questions like “What are the swear words you can say on the air?”
There are four Pittwire won’t print. “And nothing to do with bodily functions,” added Balich to the answer.
DJs also need to learn what types of music go with the college radio format. Usually this means artists with less than a million listeners on Spotify and songs with less than twenty million streams. The music must also conform to the broadcaster’s production guidelines, that is, music that is well produced, mixed and meets a certain quality standard for the broadcaster. After the initial training, their show idea is approved by another director for WPTS and they are on the air.
Both Balich and Cermer plan to continue the WPTS into the fall and have taken up positions in the club for the next school year.
Balich will take over the direction of the music and give it more responsibility, e.g. Such as checking new music that might be played on the transmitter, automating music that plays when there is no designated DJ, and similar tasks. “There’s a lot to learn, but I’m excited,” said Balich, “and the former music director will still be there so I can ask for help.”
Cermer will be the new Underwriting Director, who will be contacted by sponsors to keep the station up and running as the station is a nonprofit organization. “It’s a whole new, big thing for me,” she said, “I’m excited.”
Both students encourage anyone with an interest in music at all to watch WPTS: “Don’t be intimidated, you don’t have to know everything about music to be involved,” said Balich.
This story was written by Kendal Johnson, a student reporter for Pittwire.