Stickers on studio door

The walls are packed with bookshelves, holding hundreds of CDs, the doors coated in stickers promoting bands and the equipment fills every inch of a tiny studio room. Usually Tyler Newton sits alone, but yesterday I fiddled in the background with a camera and a sense of interest.

Questioning his every step, he explained with a laugh, still moving to meet his approaching deadline. At 1:06 p.m. he greeted his listening audience.

The WVRU station, located on Radford University’s campus projects the voices of many students, including that of Newton.

As many freshmen face the challenge of settling in, keeping up and becoming involved, Newton didn’t find it a difficult decision to jump right in. He found his start stumbling upon the station during club fair last fall. He stepped up, trained and now hosts two shows weekly.

“Tyler came on as a trainee,” student DJ, Doug Grimes said. “I first met him at the club fair. He came to the WVRU table, expressed interest in becoming a DJ and he was with the group of 16 others, but I could tell pretty much from the beginning he was going to be one of the ones we hired. Because he came up to every session, he studies the work, he worked really hard to get where he is now.”

Newton on air

Newton on air

His Tuesday morning shows give jazz enthusiasts some new hits and Newton an appreciation of the genre.

“I learned that jazz is much more different than I thought it was,” Newton said. “There’s different genres within jazz that I bet a lot of people don’t know.”

As he picks a CD off the shelf, glancing over it, Newton can easily pick a song for his listening audience.

“It’s definitely a lot different experience,” Newton said. “It’s kind of cool that your voice is out there, that everyone can hear. Later on you get to play music that you like and show others what you enjoy.”

Bookshelves of CDs

CDs fill walls

WVRU went on air for the first time back in 1978–A good 32 years before Newton first stepped into the station’s studio. The station continues to recruit and train students like Newton, giving them a shot at hands on experience.

Grimes and other DJs help to recruit others to WVRU. Each DJ works together to help make training easier.

“It really teaches you how to work together as a team,” Grimes said. “Cause sometimes we have to come to each other for help–whether it’s an equipment malfunction or we need someone else to voice something. It builds into your social skills and teamwork ability which is going to be important in other areas.”

After throwing himself on air this year, Newton continues to look ahead with hope.

“You’ve just got to go to Radford and be a student here. No matter what your age, you’re good,” Newton said.

Newton finds CD

Breaking through the age barrier that stops most students, Newton found a place in the RU community to give back and entertain. He encourages friends and family to tune in and listen, giving him feedback on his shows.

The DJs help keep the station operational and provide a public service for Radford. WVRU is always looking for younger students to carry on the tradition.

“If you can get involved from the very beginning your experience is going to be much greater,” Grimes said.

You can catch Newton Mondays at 10 p.m. and Tuesdays at 1 p.m. on WVRU 89.9 FM.

[This story was published in the April 7, 2010 issue of The Tartan. It was published online April 5.]

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