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Creativity rules at WZBC

Campus station attracts diverse DJs

Published: Monday, April 22, 2002

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

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John Kennedy

For WZBC promotions director Teresa Concepcion, A&S ’03, the time people invest in BC’s college radio station needs no financial compensation because “what you do benefits a lot of people.”

In 1999, Boston Magazine declared WZBC the "Best Rock Radio Station in Boston." R.E.M, The White Stripes Stereolab, Sigur Ros, and many other bands have visited our very own McElroy, and as anyone can imagine, they didn't come for the food. Since its birth in 1973, WZBC has become a vital part of the underground music scene.

"College radio in general serves a big purpose in getting the underground music scene heard and appreciated outside of commercial radio," said Andrew Culler, music director of WZBC and A&S '03.

The people involved in WZBC are among the most interesting and passionate. WZBC is one of the most diverse groups here on campus because it directly incorporates members of the Boston community.

"It's the only student-run organization that integrates both BC students and community members, which is really interesting," said Teresa Concepcion, promotions director for WZBC and CSOM '03.

Most of the DJs are not students but volunteers. A majority of the station's listeners listeners are not from BC but from the greater Boston area. This atmosphere creates a radio station that is diverse in its approach to music and celebrates its uniqueness.

"WZBC provides a service in which our listeners in the Boston community, as well as our Internet listeners, can hear underground music that they might not be able to hear otherwise," said Concepcion.

And true to college radio form, WZBC is free and voluntary. The DJs, interns, program managers, and assistants are not paid.

"We're passionate about music and what we do here. We do it for the good of the station. That's your work and you don't ask for anything in return because you know that what you do benefits a lot of people," said Concepcion.

Passion and pride draw people involved in WZBC. These are the drives that push WZBC to revel in the gifts and power of underground music.

"The music is what really shapes the sound of the station, and the DJs are so passionate about what they do and love what they do. They don't do it for the money. They do it because they love it," said Concepcion.

Visit their office and the unique world WZBC has created at BC will be clear.

The wallpaper is composed of stickers, posters, CDs, records, buttons, and bumper stickers that say "Honk if You Hate People." There is a smashed-up Creed CD, a record cover of Dolly Parton lying down and saying "I can't get up," a collection of The Ramones' CD cases, even half burned out Christmas lights. Creativity, spontaneity, music, and humor are the interior decorators at the WZBC office, and it is incredibly inspiring.

"This does not look like an office. Most offices don't have stickers everywhere and bulletin boards and music playing almost 20 hours a day. It's the most atypical office but at the same time that's what makes it what it is," said Marshall Love, the FM coordinator, DJ of a weekly late night show called "Sweet Love" and A&S '05.

It is clear from the first step inside this hidden hub of the BC universe that there is something special brewing from the basement of McElroy. One enters a mess filled with boxes of CDs, posters, music magazines, bikes leaning against the wooden wall, backpacks sprayed over the couches – this is more than an office. It is home to students and Boston community members who are dedicated, passionate, and proud of what they do – provide the public with music that is too often overlooked and demoralized by commercial radio.

"Commercial radio has become so bad and so programmed for 14-year-old pre-pubescent girls and 14-year-old pre-pre-pubescent boys and it's unlistenable," said Benjamin Walker, a freelance DJ who has been with WZBC since 1996.

"In commercial radio, whatever they say is a lie. They play what they're told to play. Here at ZBC it's completely free," said Gary Geiserman, who has been with BC radio for 10 years. He hosts a weekly late night show under a category called NCP, no-commercial potential.

It is guaranteed that one will not find Blink 182, Dave Matthews Band, or N*SYNC being played or even mentioned here. One will find music that goes against the current and finds strength in creative individuality, freedom, and fearless expression.

"I play pretty eclectic for NCP. It's all types of avant garde electronics. Mostly I feature a spoken word collage," said Geiserman. "Kind of like abstract painting. I like to be creative with sound and being able to experiment and play anything."

"The BC station is absolutely the best one, and it's primarily because the culture that goes around here. You have a special room in the basement of McElroy Hall. It's like a sanctuary for people who are looking for a special place to grow," said Walker.

And that is what WZBC is about – passion, music, and freedom to grow and celebrate the world of underground music.

"It's almost nonexistent to have a radio station and have an opportunity to do whatever you want. This is an extremely miraculous opportunity," said Geiserman.

Can BC radio change the world?

"Definitely," said Culler. "I think it's definitely one of the best radio stations in Boston and one of the greatest college radio stations in the country.

"Listen and learn more about great music," he continued. "You can't ask them to do more than that – just listen to it."

Listen to WZBC at 90.3 FM or through one of one of two WZBC Web sites: www.wzbc.org or www.zbconline.com.

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