WDCR-1340AM: 'Keeping it real' in the Upper Valley: Student radio DJs scope out new music, phattest and freshest beats to provide College audience with R&B, hip-hop

by Alex Perez | 11/5/97 6:00am

If you hail from in and around any major city there are certain things that you take for granted; one is that you can turn on the radio and tune into not one but often several stations that feature hip hop and/or R&B music.

Here in the Upper Valley however, that is not the case. With the exception of some very sparse and relatively generic R&B selections played on WGXL 92.3, Dartmouth's own AM radio station, 1340 WDCR, remains the only pure "urban" programming around.

Although WDCR sports a relatively new music department, hip hop and R&B music is flowing stronger than ever thanks to the efforts and talents of several students.

Last spring, John McWilliams '99 was somewhat surprised to find that he had been offered a position as the AM's urban music director with only a term's experience under his belt.

However, McWilliams tackled his assignment with a ferocious tenacity, first calling each of the record companies in search of the latest releases and other musical offerings.

McWilliams jokingly recounts one incident in particular where the mere sound of his voice on the telephone struck one company spokesperson with fear.

This intensity which he makes light of is exactly what you would want in the head honcho.

He prides himself on the time he puts into researching billboards and various musical sources to compile the freshest assortment of contemporary hip-hop and R&B music, as well as the effort he makes to get the latest tracks out to his audiences.

McWilliams doubles as a disc jockey himself.

He has his own show which airs every Friday from 4-6 p.m. where he flaunts the skills he hopes will some day land him a big time gig in the music industry.

The Atlanta native describes DJ-ing as "deceptively hard work;" but he finds it is as equally fulfilling as it is challenging.

His show, titled "Namor's Crib," is taken from the Sub-Mariner Marvel comic book series that he read from as a child.

Another show to listen out for is co-jockeyed by Jasson Walker '98 and Reginald "Reggy" Belhomme '00. The show airs from midnight to 2 AM Thursday mornings.

Walker, also known as "DJ Dash" because of his slight of hand on the turn tables and fleet of foot when his female groupies appear, may be a familiar face as he performs at special events around campus including many fraternity parties.

Walker hails from the Bronx, NY. where he founded Thinboy productions. He's only been in the jockeying game for a year or so, but he is very serious about pursuing a career if not on the radio, then something within the music industry.

Walker stresses the importance of his friendship and partnership with Belhomme that leads to the overall success of their show.

Between the two of them they strike the right balance between hip hop which is generally Walker's preference and consequently the theme for the first hour, and a mellower R&B mixture which Belhomme explores in the second hour.

One can even occasionally expect some freestyling originals from the dynamic duo. And the Walker-Belhomme show hopes to feature within the coming week samples from 1996 graduate, Derek Smith's upcoming album.

From 10 p.m. to midnight on Thursdays one can tune in to Andy Warner '99, radio name "Candy" (born of his "sweet" reputation with certain fans) and junior Shaunda "L'il Shaun" Miles' hip hop/R&B variety show.

Expect the unexpected, but rest assured that good music will be played and interesting time will be had by all.

Candy Andy, all the way from Cincinnati, Ohio first came to the airwaves this summer and he has been having a great time with it ever since.

Warner and Miles are best known for their witty dialogue, spontaneous style and their capacity to shift between a musical and talk show vibe.

Some discussion topics from past shows include, "How to Kick Game," "Keeping it Real," and the various meanings of "Shadiness."

They have been known to have as many as 10 people in the studio at once and have even had a disgruntled caller come down to the studio to make a ruckus.

Barring a couple of isolated incidents of violence however there is a good-natured, fun feeling to the show; which Warner feels is the best part about the show

"We're all about having a fun with it," he said. And the end result is a sort of comic unprecitability which keeps listeners tuned in.

Besides being a listener, Warners reminds his audience that calling during the show or even stopping by the studio is encouraged. Warner hopes to find his niche on the campus party scene once the Dartmouth soccer season finishes.

Jess Lacson '98 , Erika Johnson '98, Alexa Burneikis '98 and the occasional Zaira Zafra '98 throw a weekly radio extravaganza on Wednesdays from 10 p.m. to midnight.

The show is best described as hip hop with a spicy metaphysical twist.

More than just music, which ranges from classical hip hop to anything from Bjork to Jamaican euro-disco tracks, the show strives towards a higher purpose in "mind-expansion" and spreading love through music.

Not taking themselves too seriously on the spiritual calling however, they always have time for smack talking, the occasional call-out, and general chicanery. Along with the soul-soothing motif is this notion of "venting" which is an essential part of the show's dialogue.

"The show is my time and my girls time to get together and talk about things we find to be annoying, interesting, funny and/or frustrating at Dartmouth -- so, basically, we talk about Dartmouth guys," Lacson said.

"The Show is definitely a time for women at Dartmouth to talk about what's on their minds in both a serious and funny way. It's also a time for guys to call in if they don't agree with what we are saying."

The cosmic girl, Burneikis, feels the relaxed or even festive ambiance achieved in the studio sends out a vibe to listeners which increases positivity.

"Its just good, as-clean-as-we-can-get fun," Lacson said.

"We also like to 'blow up people's spots' in both subtle and not so subtle ways. The show believes in equal opportunity. We don't care who you are, if we want to talk about you we will," Lacson said.