How a Russo-Nigerian Stallion Found Video Game Music, Part 2: Starting in Radio

Along with using Napster to seek out the occasional video game tracks, I also amassed a collection of mainstream tracks that I had liked over the years. Being detail-oriented, I always changed filenames, and I used Winamp to tag my tracks pretty meticulously: release year, album, publisher. But also being a very particular fan, I didn't have anything more than maybe 275-300 tracks, most bands or artists having only 1 or 2 tracks. Still though, whenever I found something good enough to keep, it was always a big deal. Especially in music, I'm of the view that one should be open to all new music, but also feel one's preferences to be the most interesting out of anybody's.

In late 2001, I guested a lot on my friend Anna Scruggs' radio show at WMRE, Emory University Student Radio. She played a good deal of pop music, but within the mix she had a lot of interesting bands, including Coldplay just before I was familiar with 'em. She picked her music well, and at the time she was a particularly big fan of Guster as well as the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. I don't even recollect why I first joined her on the air other than to hang out; I hadn't been bitten by the radio bug yet.

Due to WMRE having a webcam and being broadcast on Emory on-campus cable system, Anna, much like any and all females visible on WMRE, was frequently propositioned to flash the webcam by horny male students, always funny and/or mildly annoying on- or off-air. Thems were the breaks.

One aspect of WMRE I particularly enjoyed was working with its primitive soundboard (which was eventually upgraded to a very professional one). Using it to broadcast was pretty fun, and joining the station to be allowed to actually work with the equipment was one reason I joined. The other reason went back to my earlier mantra: one should feel one's musical preferences to be the most interesting out of anybody's. Discovering the opportunity to share my favorite music with people and spread the good word about it was all the impetus I needed to ask about having my own timeslot on the station in February 2002.

One thing job-seeking websites and books promote heavily for hungry individuals looking for opportunities is to grab tenaciously at even the smallest bite, in order to get one's foot in the door. At WMRE, that meant eagerly accepting the Thursday night, 2-4AM timeslot when it was the only one offered to me. While an objectively lousy slot, the time wasn't bad relative to my Friday class schedule, so I went for the hand I was dealt. My original show name, "(Insert Name Here)", sounded witty enough given that I couldn't come up with anything else. In any case, that's where seizing the opportunity factored in.

Where luck and the ability to stand out eventually factored in was in how diligently I filled in for DJs who couldn't make it to their scheduled shows. Most of the time, whenever a DJ announced they couldn't make it, I would swoop in and reply offering to cover their slot. Most of the time, it didn't matter how short notice it was; I was able to compose a fresh playlist in half an hour that I felt had pretty good flow and subsequently hotfoot it with my laptop over to the Longstreet dorm where the station was housed. Being committed to only 4 two-hour shows per month, within my first month at WMRE I instead managed to host over 40. By that time, I frequently got calls from people recognizing me, telling me that they saw me in the studio all of the time, with most people liking what I was playing.

My format at the time was a mixture of mainstream music, mostly UK-based bands (Travis, The Verve, Coldplay) and video game music that I could find at reasonable quality in MP3 format. That limited me to stuff like Street Fighter Alpha 3, GoldenEye 007, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Capcom vs. SNK and other assorted goods, but I still had a fairly deep selection.

After coming in on one occasion to cover for a timeslot after another friend of mine, Matt Kertz, Matt asked me what my show format was and I mentioned the video game music portion of the playlist. Particularly a fan of the CastleVania series mixes available there, Matt recommended me to http://remix.overclocked.org, emphasizing that the tracks available there were abundantly free. Making a mental note of it, I followed up on it a few days later, which I'll elaborate on next time around.

After that month of constantly filling in for people, I received an email from WMRE's then-Program Director Caroline Riegel, who had also provided me my initial DJ training. It turned out that the Saturday night, 10PM-Midnight slot had been freed up and she had noticed my dedication to being on the air. She had sent me the email letting me know that the timeslot was free and that, due to my enthusiasm, she was offering me the opportunity to take it over or decline it before she publicly put it up for grabs. I quickly thanked her and accepted my new slot. And of course, I kept right on plowing through and substituting for other people. I loved being on the air.

While I felt it important to plug video game music on my radio show, it truly took on a life of its own once I became familiar with OverClocked ReMix. That'll take us to Part 3...

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