KUMD gives DJ's musical freedom on "The Basement"

BY WERNER BAKER | The Statesman The glow of overhead lights and two monitors light up a large soundboard. Two large speakers hover overhead, blasting the final seconds of Daft Punk’s “One More Time,” as the DJ puts his headphones on and takes a seat at the microphone.

“103.3 KUMD Duluth Public Radio, thank you for tuning into The Basement with me. I’m DJ Quack, like the duck.”

Sam Quackenbush began training as a DJ last June after hearing The Basement on the radio.

Since then he has been on the air at least 30 times, DJing on Thursday nights from 11 p.m. until 1 a.m.

“Each show usually has its own vibe to it,” Quackenbush said.

He explained how he organizes his broadcasts into sets of music and makes sure that tracks have similar styles with complementing intros and outros.

“You pay attention to transitions, how things fade in and out. Maybe one’s fading out, so you want to slam in the hard beginning of the next song to keep that going. Or maybe, the songs are really different, and you give people a second to take a breath before going into a song with a totally different vibe,” Quackenbush said.

According to Quackenbush, the goal of a set of tracks is to make them flow smoothly because varying tracks with contrasting sounds can cause listeners to tune out.

“There are a lot of different elements, it’s not just going in and playing whatever you want to,” Quackenbush said.

When KUMD Program Director, Adam Fleishhacker was asked to describe the music featured on The Basement, he responded with “Anything weird.”

Fleishhacker went on to explain how The Basement focuses on playing new music that has unique qualities.

By featuring genres from Hip-Hop and Indie to Electronic and more, The Basement gives its DJs the freedom to air the music that they like. With the vast, growing collection of albums that line the studio’s walls, DJs have quite the selection available to determine what they like.

When the monitors aren’t blasting the track that’s on air, Quackenbush and Bray talk about anything from the music they’re playing, to their school work or personal lives.

While multiple people in the studio makes for a good time, Quackenbush noted that DJing the late shift is usually a solo operation.

“It can get lonely down there, for sure,” says Quackenbush.

However, there is an upside to it, according to Quackenbush. He explained how being on air alone prompts him to play a wide selection of styles of music.

In between every two or three songs, Quackenbush will intervene on the microphone to brief the audience on which tracks were just on air. He may also discuss the artists he’s airing, or the current weather.

Eventually, the time comes for his last break before he goes off air for the night.

“103.3 KUMD, you are tuned into The Basement…” Quackenbush concludes his weekly show by identifying the songs that aired since the previous break, and gives a final word of farewell before introducing the last track or two that will air until his shift ends.

The Basement is a radio program run by UMD students that airs from Monday to Thursday from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. on 103.3 FM, KUMD. The Basement also streams anywhere, online at kumd.org.


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