By Setota Hailemariam
It’s no secret that college radio has been a staple on campuses across the country for decades now. Shows like “How I Met Your Mother” and “Dear White People” have referenced or featured student DJs in some way, and even former President Barack Obama has praised the medium: “By empowering students to add their voices and opinions to the airwaves and connecting listeners to new ideas and artists, college radio fosters creativity.”
This university’s own station, WMUC FM 88.1, has no shortage of amazing DJs, so The Writer’s Bloc wants to highlight them. Up this week are Ashley Clarke, multiplatform journalism major and Kayla Young, broadcast journalism major, both juniors and hosts of a show called “Beyond the Pale” Wednesdays at 9 p.m.
When opening their show on Oct. 25, Clarke said into the mic that they didn’t have much planned for that night, so “we’re just gonna talk about ourselves because we’re vain.” That’s essentially the gist of their show – not so much vanity, but candid conversations about their lives and experiences, as well as discussions about urban music and culture.
Clarke said the idea for the show came after she noticed the lack of hip-hop or black-centric shows at the station, compared to the number of alternative or indie music-focused ones. She reached out to Young, a good friend since the summer before college, and “Beyond the Pale” came to life in spring 2017 (Clarke never mentioned whose idea the perfectly fitting show title was).
“Me and Ashley just have such good chemistry that like anything we do, we’re always on the same page,” Young said as they played Gucci Mane and Offset’s “Met Gala.”
She wasn’t lying — their chemistry and comfortability with each other made for an absolutely hilarious hour of back-and-forth banter, the kind that makes you feel like you’re in on all the inside jokes and part of their circle.
“I’m here, I’m there, I’m everywhere,” Young said after mentioning her stressful day. “Kayla thinks she’s Dr. Seuss,” Clarke joked, then proceeded to instruct listeners to send Young hate mail after she claimed she’s not doing anything for Halloween. A discussion about Halloween weekend plans followed, with Clarke gushing over her love for the holiday.
“It’s the best time of the year,” she said.
“I thought that was Christmas?” Young questioned.
“Christmas is about capitalism!”
Though it’s clear that they had fun goofing off on air, the two aren’t afraid to get serious when the time comes. When asked about their favorite show they’ve ever done, they agreed that one of the best was when they had President of the Latinx Student Union Jocelyn Nolasco come on to talk about a racially insensitive email she had received in late August from her professor, as well as other current issues like DACA.
“I think that was a really good show because the dialogue was really good, we finally had gotten someone on the show to talk, and it was about something really important to both of us, and to, I think, the masses,” Clarke said.
They also feature local artists on the show – rapper/producer Uncle Iso and Baltimore collective 409 were recent guests – after checking their music out and reaching out to them on Twitter.
“Honestly, I’m willing to give a platform to anyone who’s not trash. And I don’t even have to love your art…like the guy who we had on last week [Uncle Iso], he’s very focused on not only his craft, but also bringing together creative people, so even if I didn’t like his music I still would’ve had him on the show…his music happens to be really good, but he really puts in effort and really cares about the art community,” Clarke said.
“Beyond the Pale” gives other people a voice, while letting its hosts share their experiences. Young emphasizes this aspect: “I just hope that…freshmen or sophomores who probably went through the same things I went through listen and can learn from the experiences that I’ve been through…I would’ve wanted to listen to someone who I could relate to, I would’ve wanted that when I was a freshman.”
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Gaby Navarro.
Setota Hailemariam is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.