Arizona

Photo Essay: Climbing Deejay Mountain

In the spring of 2009, I began volunteering at Tucson’s community radio station, KXCI. At first, I was part of the pledge drive phone crew, and I was pretty happy working behind the scenes.

Late last fall, an invitation to join a KXCI deejay class landed in my e-mailbox. Tuition was at the can’t-resist price of, well, gratis. How could I resist an invitation like that?

So, on the evening of November 15, 2011, there I was at the station with six other wannabe volunteer deejays.

Class #1 highlighted the history of KXCI, the station’s format, and Federal Communications Commission and Recording Industry of America requirements. These include a ban on those infamous “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” that George Carlin used in his monologue. If you’re curious, do a search because we’re not going to say those words on the radio.

Onward we went through three more classes, covering skills like the proper use of station equipment, finding CDs that may or may not be filed correctly and getting them cued up before your current song ends, and trying not to burst into uncontrollable fits of laughter while reading fictitious public service announcements. (The instructors were testing our ability to keep a straight face.)

But being a deejay isn’t just about sitting in a classroom. You learn how to do the job, well, by doing it. So, let’s step into Master Control…

KXCI-FM 91.3 Tucson deejay Melissa at the mixing board

That’s KXCI deejay Melissa on the mixing board. The board is just one thing you have to take care of during a broadcast, and, yes, it takes a while to get your head wrapped around what needs to be done and when. That’s why I call it climbing deejay mountain.

One of the things that’s quite humbling about KXCI is meeting people who excel at what they do. Here’s music director Duncan Hudson, engineering a live performance in Studio 2A. The guy can run a mixing board in his sleep and still make the music sound good…

KXCI-FM 91.3 Tucson music director Duncan Hudson engineering a live performance in Studio 2A

Did I mention music? That’s one of the coolest things about KXCI. Musicians like guitarist Gabriel Sullivan and drummer Ruby Ptacek come to the station and do live performances during special events like Sonic Solstice…

Guitarist Gabriel Sullivan at KXCI-FM 91.3 Tucson

Ruby Ptacek is one of the musical offspring of the late, great Rainer Ptacek, an internationally renowned bluesman who lived and raised his family in Tucson…

Drummer Ruby Ptacek at KXCI-FM 91.3 Tucson

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