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The Adventurous Life of a DJ

Do you have a face for the radio? Does your voice capture the attention of all your friends? Do you have a wry sense of humor and no fear when it comes to speaking into a microphone? If the answer to any of these questions is a resounding "yes," then I strongly suggest joining WNJR, a group of young men and women dedicated to bringing music, sports, and humor to the airwaves in and around the campus of Washington & Jefferson College.

WNJR currently broadcasts in a thirty mile radius surrounding the campus at 1500 watts. In addition to broadcasting on 91.7 FM, the station can also be heard through its streaming audio webcast, adding even more potential listeners to WNJR's audience.  Student shows exhibit a wide variety of musical tastes ranging from the obscure to the popular to the up-and-coming bands of a host's favorite genre. Mainstream and punk rock, techno and classical are all featured for a person's listening pleasure. This blend of genres makes for quite the interesting juxtaposition of shows at times and of particular note is Thursday evening. The first student show on Thursday is The Paul and Brandon Show, a program whose hosts enjoy exploring punk rock and humor that can be dry, nonsensical, and at times bizarre. Immediately following is Magnum Opus, a show that can fairly be described as having more class than its predecessor. The show's host, Jordan, spins his favorite genre - classical music - after he puts up with some of the antics of The Paul and Brandon Show having wrapped up mere minutes before.

Of course, like all conventional radio stations, WNJR is obligated to follow the rules set forth by the Federal Communications Commission regarding acceptable content aired on shows. A show's host is responsible for all content he or she puts out over the airwaves, and most of the English language's swear words are offenses that can be fined by the FCC if played on air.

Interning for WNJR

Potential interns of WNJR must submit a form outlining their idea for a show and a list of bands that they'd like to play during their show. Each intern is required to know the names of each member of the station 's staff and they are also required to take a written test in which they exhibit their knowledge of the station's history and its technical capabilities. 

While undergoing internship training, a person must also sit in on two shows and log their time with the hosts of those shows. Each aspect of working the radio board must be explained - which buttons to push at which times, how to turn the microphone volume up or down, and the ever-important emergency contingency in case a host slips up and utters an "f-bomb" or other swear word on-air.

Also outlined is the use of the station's CD library, which includes such dubious albums as the Backstreet Boys and N'Sync (don't ask me, I don't play them). Once all this knowledge is attained, the intern gets some hands-on training operating the board before ultimately taking the board test and receiving his or her own show.

From Show Host to Station Manager

Narrative given by Dylan Jesse, Station Manager of WNJR for the 2006-2007 academic school year, on April 17, 2007. 

I started at WNJR as a show host the first semester of my freshman year. I've always had a serious love of music, so when I heard that the college would just give me air time to play what I wanted, I didn't hesitate to go through the internship process and apply for a show. The whole process was a lot more haphazard then than it is now, so I had some problems getting used to running a show smoothly.

During that first semester, the production manager unexpectedly quit, and I happened to be in the station when Rob Velella (who was the radio advisor at the time) and Amy Lunney (the station manager at the time) were talking about hiring someone to take her place. I wandered into the conversation, and they offered the job to me. Unfortunately, they didn't offer me a lot of training to go along with that.

I largely taught myself the workings of the audio editing software over the course of the year. It was tedious and occasionally bordered on mind-numbing, but it was a paying job and something constructive to do, so I stuck with it. My sophomore year, I was hired again, but this time as the programming director. My job was to construct the playlists that run off the automated system which plays music when student shows are not broadcasting. That job was even worse than the last one. I do not look back on those hours of tedious ordering and sequencing and timing fondly.

At the start of my junior year, I was hired yet again, but this time to take Amy's place as station manager because she was graduating. Now I do a little bit of everything, and a whole lot of time going over new ideas for scheduling, revamping the internship process, looking for new syndicated shows to broadcast over the automated system, and general small-time administrative work. Right now, the station is preparing to change its format to a more open-ended and varied format with the addition of a new network of computers, new software, and new music, mostly from local Pittsburgh artists.

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have my own show. It gives me all the more reason to find new artists, arrange great mixes and compilation tapes, and get into music I otherwise wouldn't have come to appreciate. My best memories of being on-air would probably be the annual year-end 24-hour sign-off we do where we have student show hosts broadcasting for 24 straight hours one day around finals week. The first year, I kept falling asleep on the board in the middle of my shifts, but I like to think that it wasn't all that noticeable over the air. My radio show has been one of the greatest things in which I have yet involved myself in my time at W&J. These past three years would have been seriously less interesting to me if I didn't have command of the air waves once a week in my own little time slot. It might not be much time, but it helps carry me through the week.

Special thanks to Dylan for his contribution to this wiki.

Start Me Up

The best way to start your wonderful radio career on the campus of W&J is by visiting the radio station itself, or by contacting the station manager and requesting information on an internship meeting. Of course, you'll be subjected to a lecture on the dangers of cursing on-air, but believe me, it'll benefit you in the long run. 

Other Links & Contact Information

WNJR's Homepage 

Schedule of WNJR's Radio Shows

Current WNJR Staff 

e-mail contact:

in-studio phone: 724-223-6039