“I imagine the type of people who are listening now are people who you wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time with, but who are pretty interesting,” Denton said. “That’s what I think. But more than likely, it’s no one.”
Whether or not an audience is tuning in, the DJs are required to speak on-air once every four to five songs to comment on the music they play. Sophomore DJ Holden Ruch started his March 20 show with a reference to Soviet Russia by welcoming listeners to what he called the "Democratic Republic of College Radio" and introducing himself as "Abolishing Private Property."
Denton introduced himself as DJ Brevity during his March 25 show, adding that “Brevity is not the soul of Whit.” He said he tries to think of creative commentary for his set, even though he is often too tired to come up with unique material.
Denton said he plays different music at 2 a.m. than he would during daytime hours, because he wants to give listeners a calmer experience.
“Definitely at 3 a.m., I am less likely to play hard rock than I would be at other times during the day,” Denton said. “I really like jangly, cathartic rock and roll, but I definitely less want to play that at this hour, just because I’m so tired and want to pretend I’m going to sleep, even if I’m not.”
Ruch, who works the 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. shift Tuesdays, said that he is more likely to play pop music for a middle-of-the-night shift than he would be during the day.
“I think it’s important to engage in popular music on the show because if someone’s tuning in at two in the morning, then they are likely looking for something that will catch their ears and be easy on their ears,” Ruch said. “Basically, I want people to feel like they’re hearing things that will be good for 2 a.m.”
Ruch and Denton both said that they play more popular music on the air than most college radio DJs because they want to play music that listeners will enjoy.
“I think of myself as something of a music conservative compared to a lot of DJs,” Denton said. “I don’t flinch at playing Kenny Loggins on my show, but most people would have their throats cut before they would do that.”
Even though the WXYC DJs occasionally indulge in popular music, college radio is unique in its mission to challenge the listener with unconventional choices.
“I think it’s an incredibly necessary institution because there is no other form of radio that even begins to challenge the listener and make sure some of this lesser-known stuff gets out there,” Ruch said.
College radio is also distinct from professional radio because of the small mistakes that amateur DJs make. During Ruch’s show, the introduction to a Felt song played at double speed after somebody left the record on 45 rotations per minute.
“In a way, the little foibles and mistakes made by radio DJs here add to the experience,” Ruch said. “That doesn’t happen on 107.5 KZL.”