Meet the student DJs at KALX

KALX DJ Sick Sad World
Haley Talbot/Staff

Haley Talbot/Staff

KALX-FM is UC Berkeley’s official college radio station. If you tune in to 90.7 FM, you can hear its trademark eclectic mix of music. In 1962, KALX was broadcast out of a humble cigar box from Unit 2’s Ehrman Hall. Today, the KALX studio is hidden away in the basement of Barrows Hall, unbeknownst to most students and passersby. We at the Clog sat down with some of the student DJs at KALX and discussed their roles as radio personalities.

Haley Talbot/Staff

Haley Talbot/Staff

Name: Patricia Villon

DJ name: Sick Sad World

Year and major: Third-year junior transfer, media and film studies double major

What’s the story behind your DJ name?

(It’s) a reference from “Daria”!

What got you interested in being a DJ?

I’ve always expressed interest in being a college radio DJ, so I signed up right away! I finished my training, actually, about two weeks ago.

What’s the best part about being a DJ?

Generally, I’m really interested in the local music scene. I kind of really want to get to the point where I feature people around the area on my shows. I’ve always had an interest in local music because a lot of my friends are musicians.

What’s the most challenging part about being a DJ?

It’s definitely a time commitment! I mean, during my trainings I’d have shows from 3:30-6 (a.m.). I would get at the station at 1 a.m. just to pull music.

What are you listening to right now?

Whirr’s new album. Happy Diving’s “Big World” — they’re this band from Oakland. Whirr and Happy Diving are both from the Bay Area. I can spend an hour talking about music!

Are you peanut butter or jelly?

I do not like jelly, so definitely peanut butter. Can you say peanut butter and jelly? Can you say, like, chocolate peanut butter? Then mine would be chocolate peanut butter.

When can we tune in to hear you?

My next show is on Dec. 9 at 1-3:30 a.m. For all you late-nighters on dead week staying up and studying, I’ll be there! Tune in to Sick Sad World!

Haley Talbot/Staff

Haley Talbot/Staff

Name: Tesla Monson

DJ Name: Tesla

Year and major: Third-year PhD candidate, integrative biology

What’s the story behind your DJ name?

Well, I’m named after the physicist. When you’ve got a name like Tesla, why think of something else?

What got you interested in being a DJ?

I was a DJ at my undergraduate institution for four years as well. I was actually the station manager there; I did publicity and a lot of stuff. So when I started at Berkeley, I knew I wanted to come and work at the station.

What’s the best part about being a DJ?

Oh, I love the music. I’m really interested in world music and other earlier forms of music: folk, blues, psychedelia and stuff like that. The music library here is really amazing because you can find stuff you’ve never heard of before.

What’s the most challenging part about being a DJ?

Sometimes it’s hard to get motivated when you don’t know if people are listening —  especially ‘cause it’s so old school here. We don’t really track online listeners. … So just sitting there in the dark playing music, hoping that someone cares what you’re doing — that can be a little challenging sometimes.

What are you listening to right now?

One of my favorite artists of all time is Betty Swan. She’s an R&B artist from the ’50s and ’60s. We got a new rerelease album of her work within the last year. … Also, there’s this album I found recently: It’s a live recording of a talent show that took place in 1981, I think, at a local community center and senior citizens’ home. It is atrocious! … I love playing music that’s unbearable but a really interesting piece of history.

Tell us a little about your show, “The Graduates.”

I’m the host and producer of “The Graduates,” a radio talk show that features UC Berkeley graduate students talking about their research. It can be research they do here on campus but also around the world. Just really giving graduate students an outlet to talk about what it is they do: What does it mean to be a graduate student? What types of research are going on here on campus, and why should people care about it?

Are you sauerkraut or are you relish?

Sauerkraut. Because it’s more sour. I’m not that sweet. I’m sour — sour and stringy.

When can we tune in to hear you?

“The Graduates” goes on the air every other week, Tuesdays at 9 a.m. I’ve done 16 episodes so far. After they’re finished, I turn them into podcasts, and they’re available for free on iTunes. I’m a sub DJ right now, so I just fill in when other people need some spots!

Haley Talbot/Staff

Haley Talbot/Staff

Name: Hailey Simpson*

DJ Name: Hailstorm

Year and major: Fourth-year, media studies major

What’s the story behind your DJ name?

I had trouble coming up with a DJ name, and my mom was like, “You should do Hailstorm, because it’s punny and part of your name!” So I was like, “Sure!”

What got you interested in being a DJ?

I was always interested in music. And I went to Cal Day the spring before I started going to Cal. I took a tour of the station, and that kind of solidified it, like, yeah, this is what I want to do. I really wanted to become a DJ!

What’s the best part about being a DJ?

Being able to share music with the listeners. Getting calls from listeners saying, “Oh yeah, I have no idea what that song was, but I really like it.” Just being able to turn on people to music that doesn’t really get any other airplay anywhere else.

What’s the most challenging part about being a DJ?

Definitely coming up with interesting shows and not repeating musical picks. A lot of DJs I know just come up with their shows on the spot, and that’s really hard for me because I really am a big planner. I plan my shows in advance.

What are you listening to right now?

I would say my favorite album right now is from Ballet School, which is a band, I believe, out of Berlin — like, they’re from all over. I found out about them when I was at CMJ, which is a college radio music festival in New York in October. I went to one of their shows and was completely blown away. … I also revisited this Sky Ferreira album from last year. I didn’t really listen to it when it came out around a year ago, but it found a way back into my life.

Are you ketchup or mustard?

I’m definitely ketchup. I’ve never been a fan of mustard on anything.

When can we tune in to hear you?

My show’s every other Tuesday, 9 (a.m.) to noon. The next time I’m on is during dead week.

*Hailey Simpson is a former Daily Californian blog editor.

Contact Lilia Vega at [email protected].

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  • PlanetOfTheSnapes

    I’m funny.

  • PlanetOfTheSnapes

    Computers?!? Why back in my day we just had some sheet music and a megaphone! if someone had a request they had to send it by telegram and we liked it that way! whippersnappers….