By Tyler Grezaffi
If a radio plays in a forest, and no one is around to hear it…wait, that’s not how it goes. If KLSU transmits in a campus, in the middle of the night, who are the ones making the sound? Though it may be a bit altered from its original version, this thought still raises a question that is not asked enough. Who is behind the midnight sound waves?
Between the hours of 11 p.m. and sunrise, any number of personalities in the Baton Rouge area may find themselves tuned to the FM college station of 91.1. Perhaps they’re driving to another city, or maybe waiting to meet with a friend, or simply listening while studying for their next exam. How many of these people wonder about the equally diverse characters on the other side of that radio playing the songs and taking the requests?
On the other side is a dimly lit studio in the basement of Hodges Hall within the campus of LSU. Behind the soundboard sits Meghan Bilski, one of the voices behind the early morning shows of KLSU. Though when pouring through their speakers, listeners may recognize her as Dr. X.
Meghan Bilski is an architecture major attending Louisiana State University. Sitting in front of the mic, she describes the interesting range of people that make requests during the early hours. Some seem stressed, some have important events happening that day. One caller was feeling down and thought a specific song would brighten her day.
“I think I get to be a part of what’s going to happen later in somebody’s day. Or I get to be that ‘maybe’ happy moment” said Bilski.
This is Bilski’s second semester working for KLSU and also her last. She will be graduating in May and is moving to Dallas for a job designing corporate offices and data centers.
One DJ that isn’t leaving quite yet, however, is New Orleans native Alison Mikes. Experienced in both late night and early morning shifts, she hosts a specialty show that focuses on Reggae. Mikes was also kind enough to explain some of the differences when it comes to morning and night experiences.
“When I have my specialty show, I want to talk about the music,” said Mikes. “In the morning, I like to talk about other things going on; fun facts.”
Yet, playing songs to an unseen audience can be lonely without many co-workers around.
“I’m there from six to seven, which is a really slow time because no one’s there,” said Mikes. “When people call in at that time, it’s always really exciting to know other people are awake; someone’s listening.”
When it comes to the true late night experience, KLSU station manager Ryan Travis has a total of four years under his record needle. Like Meghan, Ryan’s last day was last Friday, due to the inevitable reality of graduation. On a sunny day outside a local coffee shop, Travis reminisces about the interruption-free nights behind the mixer.
“It’s nice if you’re the only one there because you can turn the monitors up pretty loud and not have to worry about bothering anyone,” said Travis.
Welcomed isolation isn’t the only thing brought about by the odd hours. You occasionally hear from some pretty interesting people. Once, Travis received a call from a man that wanted to dedicate a song to a prostitute with whom he once had a relationship. Appearing to have a rough night and unable to find her, the man asked to give a shout out that he wanted to see her.
“I was surprised, but I was happy to help him,” said Travis, “Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t; but either way, I played the song he wanted.”
The rainbow of genres and revolving door of new artists that can be heard on KLSU reflects the diverse personalities that create those playlists. From architects, to interdisciplinary studies, to animal dairy poultry science majors; like the rotating artists, the students too eventually move on. But perhaps as they’re making the long drive to Dallas, or maybe searching for an old romance, or simply studying for their next exam, they might still find themselves tuned to 91.1.