Tucked away in the hallways of the basement of the LBC lies the broadcasting center of Tulane’s radio, WTUL. If I hadn’t been offered the opportunity to sit in on a friend’s radio show, I wouldn’t have even known it was there. As someone who has only frequented the basement for late-night milkshakes and movie screenings, I was pleasantly surprised to discover this hidden gem.
The moment I walked into the station, I immediately fell in love. As a music lover, this room is nothing short of heaven. The walls are shelves overflowing with CDs of every genre. The areas that don’t hold CDs are littered with multi-colored concert posters from over the years. The center of the room has a table with a microphone, computer, turntables, CD players, and the like. The centerpiece is the soundboard, its buttons softly aglow in the dimly lit room.
But the true crown jewel of the station is in the adjacent room: the stacks. This is a room quite literally walled with vinyl and additional shelves of CDs to boot. The shelves are so tall that a ladder is needed to reach the top racks. It’s overwhelming, to say the least; I didn’t know where to start. I could spend hours just pulling off random albums to see what there is to find.
The aesthetic of the station wasn’t the only thing that impressed me. There’s truly a show out there for anyone, from fans of metal, jazz, and everything in between. A large number of the shows are classified as progressive. Essentially, this includes anything you wouldn’t normally hear on your typical radio station. It is an excellent way to find new bands and discover lesser-known music from artists you already knew.
In the show I shadowed, they were required to play a certain amount of new additions to the music collection and to play music from local bands. Special care is taken to not play anything too well-known, seeing as the idea is for listeners to hear something they wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. To top it all off, WTUL is a nonprofit organization, so the closest thing to advertisements you’ll hear are PSAs and updates on the live shows occurring each evening at surrounding venues.
All in all, I was very impressed with all aspects of our radio station—from its considerable music collection, its strict adherence to station values, to the sheer diversity of music played in a single show. As a nonprofit, all the DJs are volunteers, and they have to raise all the money themselves to keep the station running. Coincidentally, they just had their 49th annual fundraiser and earned roughly $23,000 to fund the station for the next year.
I encourage anyone who happens to stumble across this article to give our radio a listen if they haven’t before now. As I said, it has something for anyone and everyone and never fails to surprise you with interesting music you’re guaranteed to have never heard before. So, the next time you’re getting a pancake at midnight, remember that just down the hall, DJs are tirelessly picking out music for the late-night listeners. And if you need something to listen to since you’re up snacking anyway, maybe you can turn on some WTUL. You won’t be disappointed.
COVER PHOTO: WTUL