These memories from former DJs and officers are presented in roughly the order the alumni were at Mary Washington.
“On from ’80 to ’82. New Wave/Punk show on Mondays with Jane Cox Duffield . Saturday late night “Midnight Mass” heavy metal show with John Anderson. Filled in when necessary. Got my hand slapped for playing Richard Pryor’s “Just Us” routine…”
– Steve Jalbert
“I was Public Relations Director from 1981 to 1983, so for that brief, glorious stretch I know where most of the bodies are buried. My shows moved around a bit, but I had a primo mid-evening Friday show once seniority kicked in. WMWC was where I spent most of my free time and until senior year, most of my closest friends/co-conspirators and love interests were in the station’s orbit. While I played an eclectic collection of rock, surf, and heavy metal, I was part of the faction that pushed punk and new wave REALLY vigorously! Annoyingly so, I’m sure many of you will recall. The struggle over beach, disco, dino rock, and our stuff was why several of us worked our way into leadership. Gabba Gabba Hey and Vive la Revolution!”
– Dave Hardin
““From high atop Anne Carter Lee Hall, carrier current radio doesn’t get better than this! You’re listening to WMWC, your place to discover progressive rock for the next two hours!”
I was a DJ from 85-89 and program director in 88. We had all different shows—you could go from punk to reggae to progressive to The Dead over the course of an afternoon. Unfortunately, a lot of the transmitters weren’t functional at that point and we didn’t have the budget to replace them. You cued up albums on turntables and interspersed that with ads some of the members made in pods-that looked like giant 8-track cassettes. Our main advertiser was Itza Pizza at the Eagle’s Nest.
5 of us got to go to NYC for CMJ (College Music Expo), a highlight for me. Good memories.”
– Andrea Stoltz ’89
“DJ Sunday mornings my Sophomore year 1992/1993. We called our show “The Walk of Shame” and basically played whatever we were into at the time. Always closed the show with U2 b/c that was my fav at the time. Ahh the gold old days.”
– Stephanie Snyder
“In 1992, I landed a coveted Friday afternoon slot my freshman year because I got paired with two seniors so we could all do an 80’s show. I then went on to have shows my sophomore and junior years but I can’t remember when – I think maybe Tuesday or Wednesday nights. I know I had the last time slot because I definitely remember locking up the studio and going down the very quiet and dark stairs from the top floor of Lee Hall.”
– Maureen Duane
“I was a DJ from 1993 to 1997. It was my time away from studying when I could free my mind. I loved it so much I always hoped any DJ would need a sub so they’d call me. My show originally was a sportstalk host once a week on Sunday mornings. But expanded to playing music as well especially as I got substitutes gigs.”
– Brendan Severo
“So many memories from my college radio days… From mixing in the required playlist songs to finding those classic tunes that I probably haven’t heard since the 90s that I loved to play but never had in my own collection. Or figuring out how to play the CART machine, only to have it replaced by the aptly named CART Replacement Machine! And still never knowing what CART actually means!
My favorite times where those one or two weeks before the fall and spring schedules were set, when “veteran” DJs could pick a time slot and play whatever we wanted. No playlist songs, and we could bring our own music. One night I’ll never forget was in early 1997, DJ’ing one of those pre-schedule shows. I started asking for requests and no one called in. I said I’d play the same song over and over until someone did, thinking no one was listening. Was either Wilco or Ian Hunter song. Within minutes I received two or three calls telling me to stop and making a few requests. Hey, I was just glad to have a listener!
Another memory was our giveaways. The station received all kinds of music, much of it good, but some of it not so much. Sometimes us DJs would find a CD or two left for us to either take or give away, and yeah, usually it was in the “not-so-good” category. After successfully giving one or two away, I tried again a week later. I even had a contest! I played a cover of David Bowie’s Suffragette City by Big Audio Dynamite and asked the winning caller to ID the original artist. Got a quick response and when I asked if they wanted the CD, the response was, “No, you gave me the crappy one last time. Just play some Bowie.”
WMWC was an escape. Sure I played a lot of the same music I listened to in the dorms, but I was also exposed to bands I wouldn’t have otherwise heard. But more than anything, it gave me a little place to be creative, funny, and a little off the norm. With all the other things I had on my plate, it was nice to have a place where I could leave all that at the entrance, go play and talk about music for two or three hours a week, and pick everything up on my way out.”
– Rob Thormeyer (’98)
In 1994, I started as a lowly DJ at WMWC 540 AM at Mary Washington College. My first show was titled Sounds from the Attic because the station was at the very top of Lee Hall, in what seemed like a nicely decorated attic. Even though the station couldn’t be heard by hardly anyone, I was still dead set on having a radio show. When I was a kid I’d “broadcast” my fake radio shows from my bedroom (which consisted of recording them on tape with my boombox), complete with a top 10 each week. I was inspired mainly by top 40 stations like 98 WCAU FM (Philadelphia) and DJs like Terry “Motormouth” Young.
In any event, Sounds from the Attic started off with a bang. My partner at the time was Matt S., and after I introduced myself came my first on-air blunder — I forgot to turn on Matt’s mic for his introduction. Oops.
That first year was a blast, though. Time went by and Matt got too busy to continue with the show. But being a lowly freshman, I had plenty of time on my hands.
My fondest memory from the first year was my final show of the year: a 2 1/2 hour freestyle cipher live on air featuring myself and a cadre of rappers and friends, just going off the head until the wee hours of the morning.
Sophomore year we moved from AM to cable radio FM. I did two three-hour shows each week: The Jazz Corner (a jazz show, obviously) and Level the Vibes (a reggae and dub show). Again, I had a hell of a time, even if we were still heard by next-to-nobody. Six hours a week in the station was no problem. I also started the first WMWC web page. That year the General Manager Brady approached me and asked if I might be interested in succeeding him as head of the station next year. I hadn’t really thought about it before…
Junior year I had a three-hour slot that I split into three one-hour shows: Trancelike State (electronica — a really kick ass 45-minute mix that I ended up making dubs of for people on the Net), Level the Vibes, and The Jazz Corner. I also debuted my first Holiday On the Edge, a three-hour holiday show during the last week of the first semester. During the first semester, I served as Brady’s apprentice of sorts, warming up for taking over the reigns in January.
Halfway through Junior year I started my rule as GM. Running the station… pretty damn cool. I worked with Tristan Leiter, Natalie Illum, and John Snellgrove (my tech, program, and music directors). I continued as a DJ, too, of course. I also redesigned the WMWC web page, which actually existed until January 2000 in basically the same form. It’s recently been redesigned with a nice looking, but uninformative new page.
The summer after Junior year I was in Fredericksburg, so I continued working at the station. These were some great times — driving over to the college on a hot Saturday, going up to the abandoned station, cranking up the air conditioning and just taking care of station business: checking out new CDs, cleaning the place up, and trying out the Instant Replay, our new digital cart-replacement-system.
The first semester of my Senior year, Natalie worked as my assistant since she was following me in the great line of GMs (she was the first female GM in quite a while and formed an all-female staff, as well). Bekka B. helped out John with music, Sally B. helped Tristan out with tech stuff, and Olivia S. helped Natalie with Programming. In September, John, Tristan, and I went to the CMJ music conference. I met Eric from Easy Star Records for the first time, I ran into Rob Swift of the X-Men/X-ecutioners, I met trumpet legend Donald Byrd, I talked with Philadelphia junglist 1.8.7, and I saw peformances by Guru, Donald Byrd, Roy Ayers, Black Eyed Peas, Witchdoctor, Rob Swift and Total Eclipse, Coldcut, Psycho Realm, and Benny Green. It was an unreal first visit to New York for me.
As a DJ, I had a three-hour slot that I titled Return to the Attic, based on the title of my original show, coming full-circle. The format was the same as my original: any type of music that I dug, generally in organized sets. I covered hip-hop, reggae, dub, electronica, and jazz. I also did the second annual Holiday on the Edge program.
In January of 1998, Natalie took over as GM and I returned as “just a DJ” again. But I also helped organize the station’s first (and only, as far as I remember), “Hip-Hop Wednesday” with Phil and Nene and DJ Q: hip-hop starting at 4pm and going straight until midnight, with guests throughout the shows. Fittingly enough, “Hip-Hop Wednesday” was the final show of my time at MWC. So, I brought back some folks from the first year — namely Dejuan and Anon — and also got Phil and several others to freestyle along with us. Some other friends joined me for my last program, as well, making it one to remember.
Throughout the four years, I got to meet and interview a nice handful of artists for the station (and the school paper) including Spearhead, Indigo Girls, Spring Heel Jack, Mad Skillz, Run-D.M.C., Jazz Poets’ Society, and more.
I definitely miss my time at WMWC. And not just getting free CDs and hearing music several weeks before it came out, but working with other people that were as enthusiastic (mostly) about the station as me. And I’m not kidding about missing the station — in December of 1998, even though I had graduated, I returned, thanks to new GM Olivia Synnott, to do the third annual Holiday on the Edge. There was no holiday show in December of 1999, but I did return in December of 2000 my true final WMWC show. (Well, I did come back one more time in April 2001 as a guest.)
– Ryan MacMichael ’98, DJ (1994-1998), General Manager (1997-1998), Webmaster/Self-Appointed Archivist
“I was a DJ on Friday evenings in ’96 or ’97. I played a lot of punk rock — Dead Milkmen, Rancid, Bad Religion, Buzzcocks, Misfits, Minor Threat, Ramones, Black Flag, etc. The signal was *very* weak — I couldn’t even get the station from my dorm room. I felt like I was reaching far more people when I simply pointed the studio speakers out the window on to the quad below. Occasionally, an impromptu mosh pit even broke out on the stone walkway past the building. I’d occasionally get calls from workers at the Eagle’s Nest requesting Descendents or Dead Kennedys, but other than that, I’m not really sure anyone even heard my transmissions! I recorded all of my shifts, which if nothing else at least resulted in a bunch of great mix tapes i listened to for years.”
– Daniel Reynolds
“If I’m remembering correctly, I was a deejay both my junior and senior years-1996 through 1998. My show didn’t really have a theme, just basically what I wanted to hear. I figured not too many people were listening at 8 AM on Sunday mornings anyway! ☺ I recently found cassette recording I made of my shows- lots of Pavement, Velocity Girl, Jeff Buckley and Archers of Loaf. Good times!”
– Carrie Bruner ’98
“Beck and Indigo Girls were two of the best during my time there. Jeffrey Graham and I had a 2 hour stint on Sunday evenings from Fall of 1998 – Spring of 1999. One evening we wrapped up and no one came to relieve us, so we threw on The Joshua Tree album and meant to put it on repeat. We accidently put the first track on repeat. We walked to the Eagles Nest and “Where the Streets Have No Name” was just coming on. We looked at each other and realized our mistake. It played about 6 times in a row while we were there and no one seemed to notice.”
– Mike Blake