The DJs of the Loomis Lounge

The Sounds of Colorado College, fondly referred to as the SoCC, is probably best known for their involvement with Battle of the Bands, the annual spring event in which student bands battle it out for a coveted performance spot in the Llamapalooza music festival. The mission of the SoCC, however, according to General Manager Kyra Bergsund ’18, is to “facilitate positive musical experiences,” and their involvement with the local music scene goes much further than many students on campus realize.

While the SoCC started 10 years ago as a student radio group in collaboration with KRCC, the local radio station on campus, they’ve become an independent student group run by several students in yearlong positions, an enthusiastic group of volunteer student DJs, and blog contributors. Currently, the SoCC is taking a “three-pronged approach” to stimulating the campus music scene. They organize and sponsor campus events that feature musical artists ranging from CC students to nationally known personalities; they are currently working on setting up an equipment share/rental for student bands and individuals, and, according to Bergsund, they are “very open to publishing any sort of musical content.”

Photo by Evan Foster

While student contributors often publish everything from concert reviews to musical playlists—and accept “any sort of soundscape that can be displayed on the internet,” said the Online Content Manager, Paulina Ukrainets ’19—the most frequent publications take the form of daily radio shows, accessible under the “Listen Now” tab of thesocc.org. Run by dedicated student DJs, these shows are relatively freeform and—while most strive to create the best playlists possible— can stream everything from sports talk to poetry recitations.

In a small, partially soundproofed room near the entrance to Loomis Hall, cozily crowded with shelves of records, a well-used couch, musical posters, and broadcasting equipment, David Andrews ’18, known as DJ Gentle Beats on the air, nears the end of his weekly Monday 5–6 p.m. radio show “PB & Jams” when he receives a text from his mother that she’s getting “bad, scratchy noises” from the livestream. A minute later, Andrews is on air apologizing to his listeners for “technical difficulties” and promising to fiddle around and fix things.

“When stuff like this happens, I just have no idea what to do,” Andrews said. DJs receive some basic training on how to operate the soundboard, computer, and microphone before their first show, but even with this training, there’s often nothing they can do when the sound quality suddenly goes bad. The common approach seems to consist of unplugging the brightly colored cords, staring at them, and then shrugging fatalistically before re-plugging everything. In Andrews’ case, it miraculously worked, and he was soon back on air; not every DJ is as fortunate.

In her three years broadcasting, Izzy Nathanson ’18, whose show “Bump n’ Groove/Beats Workin’” is broadcast from 8–9 p.m. on Mondays, estimates that almost 40 percent of her previous shows experienced technical difficulties or weren’t able to play at all. And equipment malfunctions aren’t the only hardship the Loomis DJs face; Nathanson admitted the “CC listening base is embarrassingly low,” with listeners generally in the “pretty single digits, basically,” Andrews added laughing. Most of those listeners aren’t even from CC; instead, they’re relatives or friends at other schools. Hannah Bollen ’19, who deejays “Hoppy, Crisp & Fizzy” at 7 p.m. on Mondays, said, “Let’s say I have two listeners, often . . . half of that will be my dad.”

Still, despite frequent equipment malfunctions, loud piano chords echoing from the Loomis lounge, and the low number of people tuning in, these DJs keep coming back to the studio and putting their music out there.

“It’s made me a lot more confident in my music tastes,” Nathanson said. “I think people are really weird about sharing what music they listen to, and doing this, even if it’s for like four people, has made me realize how fun it is to share music with others, and then made me share it in other contexts, too, which is amazing and so fun.”

Other DJs seem to agree. They’re glad the CC radio program is more relaxed than at other schools, allowing them to sign up for good time slots and put out whatever they want. While some DJs are thinking about a future side career or hobby in broadcasting music for radio stations, others just do it for themselves. Most seem to be excited about new opportunities the radio program is developing, however. DJs have recently started recording their shows, enabling them to send old shows to relatives and to upload their playlists to SoundCloud. There’s also the possibility that these recorded shows could be streamed at Benji’s during serving hours.

CC has a “very, very good music culture,” Andrews said. “I think the SoCC really does a good job centralizing it, bringing together all these people that really enjoy music . . . I think college is a great time for music in general, honestly.”

For the music lovers out there looking to broaden their musical tastes and get the full musical college experience, check out thesocc.org, click on the “Listen Now” tab, and jam along to some student-curated beats. In the words of African funk artist Rob Raindorf, recently showcased on Andrews’ broadcast: “Boogie On!”

Heather Rolph

Heather Rolph

Heather Rolph

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