While commercial radio stations generally have a reputation of overplaying certain songs and not changing their artist roster, Quinnipiac’s WQAQ 98.1 is working to break that stereotype by allowing new artists to gain exposure on the college radio circuit.
“I’d probably prefer that than listening to the same songs repeated,” Andrea Llin, a freshman communications major, said, referring to WQAQ’s pledge to support new artists. Llin listens mainly to commercial stations, such as Hamden’s KC 101.3, and is tired of listening to the same songs get repeated in the music rotation.
At WQAQ, management allows disc jockeys to tailor their playlists to suit their individual show’s audience. “DJs are encouraged to play what they please and to play their genre,” one of WQAQ’s music directors, Chris Laurenzo, said.
Commercial stations, such as the one Llin listens to, follow a strict format and will only play certain songs. WQAQ follows a college media journal (CMJ) format, allowing for more variety than the standard top 40.
“College alternative is a very wide genre and consists of everything from the more folk-based acts such as Ani DiFranco to the avant-garde experimental music of the Blood Brothers, to the straight up rock ‘n’ roll of Hot Hot Heat, to the pop-based groups such as Rilo Kiley and Fiery Furnaces,” Laurenzo said.
At the annual Battle of the Bands that took place last month, WQAQ recorded the bands’ performances and put them into their station’s computer archives for posterity. DJ’s are encouraged to play these artists on their shows so that the new and often campus contained artists can gain exposure.
Ashley Hobby, a freshman respiratory care major, listens to radio stations that play hip-hop and rhythm and blues. Hobby says that the Hartford-based stations, like Hot 93.7 and Power 104.1, sometimes overplay their songs. “93.7 does it more than 104.1,” she said.
According to its Web site, Hot 93.7 has a playlist of about 20 songs, all of which are either hip-hop or rhythm and blues.
Hobby says they overplay their music because “they run out of songs or they get lazy and don’t feel like switching the tapes.”
Mike “Mothership” Muchhetti, a DJ at WQAQ, plays songs from about 215 albums. “I try not to play the same song two shows in a row,” Muchetti said.
His show consists of funk, soul and rhythm and blues by artists from the late 60s, 70s and 80s. Although he does play some well known artists, such as Stevie Wonder and Prince, he plays mostly music from underground artists.
Although it depends on the song or type of music, Hobby said. “Songs are good to hear a few times so that you can recite the lyrics.”
Most radio stations encourage listeners to request a song, so that a listener, like Hobby, can learn the lyrics and sing along. “Requests are always encouraged at WQAQ and DJ’s should always oblige their callers,” Laurenzo said. “Generally, we would prefer that a song only be played once on a show.”
“If I get [them], I’ll play [them],” Manchetti said about requests. “But it has to fit with my show. I can’t just play any song.”
“Bands can [also] get themselves onto WQAQ by stopping by the station and submitting a demo or e-mailing us,” Laurenzo said.
WQAQ played both John Mayer and Howie Day before they were well known and the student-run station continues to look for new artists to play. “We will even put in a good word to our promotions contacts and local venues to get these artists the exposure they deserve,” Laurenzo said.