Kate Williamson's Posts
|I'm volunteer music writer for KDHX.|
An 88.1 KDHX DJ for 17 years, Rob Levy still calls Juxtaposition, his show that airs every Wednesday from 7-9 p.m. Central, “a work of chaos.”
A few weeks ago Rob and I met at Meshuggah coffee house in St. Louis to talk about how writing, the ’80s and KDHX have influenced his musical taste and affected his long-running show.
Kate Williamson: How did you get started at KDHX?
Rob Levy: I got out of college in ’95 and I had a broadcasting degree with a marketing degree like every kid who comes out of a mass communication degree. I had done, in college, a radio show before, so I was kind of looking around, and my options if I wanted to work in radio were to go to Sikeston or Warrenton or some of those places and bounce around.
Back in the day people would go to a station in Warrenton or Sparta, Illinois, they’d be there for six months, there’d be a change, then they’re off to some other station. And I didn’t really want to mess with that. So I was really looking for marketing and PR jobs and trying to get a radio job, but figuring I wasn’t going to. This was right around the time that the Point was in full swing, but I think I was a little too rough for that in terms of stuff I played and my style.
So, I’d listened to KDHX and I recognized a lot of people from shows and stuff growing up. I just thought one day on a lark I was going to call down there and see what would happen. And I called and it wasn’t organized like it is now. It was like literally going through four or five people. I got a call back and it was like, “What would you like to do?” and I had a demo and it was a cassette. I got a slot, it was an overnight, I started off doing 3 to 5 [in the morning] which in a way was good because I got a feel for the station, and they kind of know you really want to do it. I don’t remember much about the overnights other than I just sort of played what I wanted to play and did requests and tried not to make anyone mad. And then a slot opened up in the afternoon. I did an afternoon show for about a year, and then I ended up in the evenings.
Did the style of the show change? The type of music?
Yeah, kind of. When I was on in the afternoon they didn’t have the schedule set up like they do now where they try to make everything flow into the next show. So I was playing everything from Fat Boy Slim, Billy Bragg, to Front 242 in the afternoon, which in a way was probably kind of jarring. Once I got the evening slot I thought I’m going to be able to do some stuff with this so let me build what I’m going to do. So then it was like ok, I’m always going to want to play new music. I’ve always thought the core of KDHX was new music and I’ve always tried to play new music.
I’m always going to try to play stuff that people aren’t going to hear anywhere else because I think the basic reason people listen to the station still is because they want to hear programming that is alternative to anything else they’re going to hear. But I always have tried to play something new or something really cool ahead of time before it comes out but also mix in something like these great records from the ’80s that people may not have heard or may have forgotten about. And I don’t really put any handcuffs on what I want to play. I try to think about the show that comes on before me — Dr. Jeff and Kate after me — in terms of what I’m doing and what other shows are on during the day. So it’s about how it’s all going to fit together as a puzzle and try to make it work.