4B - The Michigan Daily - Weekend, etc. Magazine -Thursday, February 25, 1999
Daily - Weekend, etc. Ma
WCBN gives students,
music lovers a chance to
spin discs like the pros
Top 1.0 Albums
(The nation's top-selling albums
for the week)
By Cortney Dueweke
Daily Arts Writer
Are you sick of hearing Natalie
Imbruglia every hour, on the hour? Do
you know the words to "One Week" for-
wards, backwards and perfectly up to
If so, you're probably not listening to
the University's station, WCBN. Why?
Because WCBN boasts a very loose for-
mat, unlike most stations where playlists
are set and the DJs are required to play a
predetermined percentage of a certain
kind of music.
In fact, the WCBN DJs are allowed to
play - and say - basically whatever
they want. This freedom causes the station
to be a unique mixture of any type of
music imaginable, from reggae and pop to
punk rock and rap.
The Campus Broadcasting Network
began as independent radio studios in the
basements of East Quad, West Quad and
South Quad residence halls around 1950.
At that time, none of the stations could be
heard outside of the buildings from which
In 1952, however, they began to work
together and formed WCBN-AM 650. In
1957 the network consolidated its scat-
tered studios in the basement of the
Student Activities Building - where they
still broadcast today.
Nowadays, at 88.3 FM on the dial,
WCBN has many different types of
shows, including news (both network and
student-produced), country, bluegrass and
international music, as well as sports, pol-
itics, gay, and tenants' rights shows. But,
the shows that separate WCBN from any
other radio station are its many
"Freeform is mixing all different kinds
of music together, and having it follow a
theme -having it make sense in one way
or another," said University alum and
WCBN general manager Erika Sherman.
"It's really unique."
Nick Farr, assistant general manager
and LSA junior, added, "WCBN covers
everything. We'll play top 40, oldies, any-
thing - it's entirely up to the DJ. Our mis-
sion is to reach as many different cultures
and play as many different types of music
as possible. There's not another station in
the world that you'll hear classical music
one minute and dirty gangsta rap the
Being a WCBN DJ is not as easy as
showing up and demanding your own
show. Every aspiring DJ has to go through
a standard process.
Those interested meet with someone at
WCBN who demonstrates how to use
some of the station's beginning equip-
ment. After this short training, would-be
DJs are required to put together a 45-
minute demo tape, which is turned in for
consideration by station officials.
If the tape is approved, prospective DJs
are trained to use the actual FM studio.
They sit in with DJs who have their own
shows to see what it's all about, and are
able to sub for absent DJs. The next step
is their own show - but usually in an
undesirable time slot, like in the middle of
the night. As DJs compile experience at
the station their time slots improve -
slowly but surely.
"Everybody's welcome to come and
get trained to be a DJ," Farr said. "The
training is easy, but getting to the point
where you're a DJ is hard."
The time it takes to go from trainee to
genuine DJ varies from person to person.
Farr said the average period is about one
For LSA first-year student Paul
Kuttner, it took much less time. At his
summer orientation session, he called
WCBN to inquire about being a DJ, and
he was invited to come to the station and
be trained. He made his demo tape a few
hours before boarding a plane to return
home, and he was offered a show before
the fall semester even began.
"I just love being on the radio," said
Kuttner, whose show airs from 3-6 a.m.
1. Britney Spears, "... Baia
2. The Offspring, "America
3. Lauryn Hill, "The
Miseducation of Lauryn Hi
4. 'N Sync, "'N Sync"
5. Dixie Chicks, "Wide Op
6. 2Pac, "Greatest Hits"
7. Cher, "Believe"
8. Shania Twain, "Come o
9. Everlast, "Whitey Ford
10. Foxy Brown, "China D
Top 10 Books
(The week's best-selling hard-cover
1. "The Testament," John C
2. "Southern Cross," Patric
3. "A Man in Full," Tom We
4. "The Poisonwood Bible,
5. "In Danger's Path," W.E
6. "Seize the Night," Dean
7. "Be Cool," Elmore Leon<
8. "A Night Without Armor
9 "Ransom," Julie Garwoo
10. "The Simple Truth," Da
Courtesy of Suzuki
Suzuki's Grand Vitara has a four-wheel drive system that tops that of Honda and Toyota, the leaders of the mini-ute game.
ELEMENTS OF A GOOD WEEKEND IN
FEBRUARY: SNODRIFT AND THE SUZUKI
WCBN DJs Peter Ledly and Aldan Dysart spin tunes during their weekly radio show. They are on the air every Tuesday from 36 a.m.
Sunday mornings. "I like having different
people come to the studio with me and
picking out stuff I've never heard before"
Like Kuttner, most WCBN DJs impro-
vise on the air. "There's been a lot of times
when I've had five seconds left to pick a
song and I'll just grab something," said
Farr, who doesn't have his own show but
often acts as a substitute.
Others plan their shows for special
occasions. "I did a Valentine's Day show,
where I started off playing positive music
and halfway through I started playing bit-
ter, cynical, insecure stuff," said
Engineering senior Jeremy Salmon,
whose freeform show "Kingfish Radio"
airs Thursday from 3-5 p.m.
Requests also influence what the DJs
play. "I get about 10 to 15 calls a show,"
Salmon said. "I'll get more if I suggest a
theme to listeners and ask them to call in
ideas. I got calls every minute and a half
for my beer and alcohol theme show."
Sometimes the calls the DJs receive
stray from the usual requests. Salmon
once had a couple call repeatedly
throughout his entire show requesting
songs. "I felt like I was providing a sound-
track for them fooling around all night,"
And the listeners are having fun all over
the world. Since WCBN can now be
heard on the Internet, Salmon and other
DJs have also received calls from
California and even Scandinavia.
Kuttner once had a man call during his
show and dedicate a song to a woman.
Later the man called back and informed
the DJ that the woman he had dedicated
the song to was his ex-wife. After hearing
the song, she had called him to talk
despite the fact that they had not spoken
in months. "It was kind of cute," Kuttner
For the DJs, who range in nature from
University students and staff to residents
ofAnn Arbor, being at WCBN is all about
the music - money is not a factor. In
fact, only the general manager, assistant
general manager, program director, and
development director actually receive
compensation for their work at WCBN.
"Everyone who is paid was a hard-
working volunteer beforehand," Farr said.
"Everybody else is a volunteer and does it
for the love."
Although Farr said the University fund-
ing WCBN receives is decreasing every
year, the situation is viewed as a positive
"It's not that the University doesn't like
us," Farr said. "We recently switched
departments, and the administration and
the station are trying to find a way to fund
us without taking (money) away from
someone who needs it more."
So, in order to keep WCBN afloat and
commercial-free on the air, the station has
been forced to become more independent
and seek other means of funding, includ-
ing fundraisers and selling ads in their
For those who work at WCBN, the
experience is very rewarding, both for
personal reasons and because of its con-
tribution to the music community.
"People listen to WCBN because they
can listen to music they can't hear else-
where' Sherman said. "We're a creative
outlet for anything and everything"
Salmon said the station gives him the
chance to "put good music on the air-
"It's one of the best things I've done at
this University," he said.
Those interested in working at WCBN
can contact the station by e-mailing train-
email@example.com. Others seeking more
information can visit the Website at
Last weekend I had the pleasure of wit-
nessing one of the greatest forms of
motor racing in America today: The
SCCA Pro Rally. The event was dubbed
SnoDrift - older Saabs, GTIs, Audi
Quattros, and Neons tore through the
twisty, ice-covered country roads of
Atlanta, MI for more than 12 hours.
Pro Rally is one of the few racing
events where you eat dinner with the
same drivers that crashed their car into the
crowd of people right next to you an hour
ago. My father and I stayed in the same
motel as these guys, and they were as
loopy as they drove. They even fixed their
cars and changed tires in the parking lot
of the motel.
This was real racing. I suggest this free
event as medicine
depressed by the
fact that Nascar is
considered to be the
of racing in'
America. Go to
At any rate, this
trip to the northern
wilds proved a per- REILLY
feet opportunity to BRENNAN
test Suzuki's recent y_______
offering into the
mini-ute game: The Grand Vitara. My
father and I took to I-75 for the four-hour
jaunt, stopping in Gaylord for lunch at the
Sugar Bowl, a terribly outdated restaurant
that is a favorite of G.P Brennan for its
wonderfully kind and overweight waiters
The Grand Vitara is better than it looks.
I think of it as more of a cartoon-based
transport, ideal for youthful college
women but somewhat uncharacteristic of
the machismo ethic that I try to convey.
My dad and I were avocados in the kiwi
bin - he's 64 with white hair, has the
map of southwestern Ireland on his face,
and drives old-man cars like the Mercury
Grand Marquis; 44 years his junior, I'm
his image, spat. But I balanced out the car
by wearing my purple Vans.
The fact that the Suzuki claims to have
a V-6 under the hood should be a selling
point. But like towns in northern
Michigan, Pro Rally drivers, and automo-
tive journalists, all V-6 engines are not
created equal. Weaker than my grades last
semester, this thing strains when travers-
ing simple hills and climbs. I even lifted
the hood during a gas stop to see if it was
really a four cylinder in there - nope.
When most people think Suzuki,
which is rare, they think Samurai and
Sidekick. Those unstable weenies are
long gone, and comparatively the Grand
Vitara is an amazing car. But it takes a lot
to go up against this segment's competi-
tors, i.e. Subaru's Forester, the Civic-
based Honda CR-V, and the Toyota
RAV4. To that end, the SGV falls short by
price tag. My tester, the JLX+ model, was
steep at $21,429. The "+" indicates stan-
dard alloy wheels and anti-lock brakes.
But, where the Grand Vitara does well
is in the ride and handling department.
The steering wheel is pretty inviting with
a comfortably small diameter and a good
But the Grand Vitara could use a bit
more around its waist. Normal Brennan
highway speeds caused some serious sus-
ceptibility to winds. I drove for nearly
four hours with two hands tight around
the wheel - like I was holding on to the
grab bar on a rollercoaster.
One must consider that most of the utes
in this segment have the very same prob-
lems on the highway. It's nothing shock-
ingly new; and I guess it's the price you
pay for not paying enough.
The one thing that surprised father and
son alike over the weekend was the
amount of interior space that the SGV
holds. There was plenty of room for a few
duffels, cameras, big boots with red laces,
a bag full of oranges that my mom
sneaked in, the two laundry bags that I
forgot to take out before we left, and two
Irishmen known for their hoodwinking
and storytelling abilities.
The four-wheel drive system that
comes optional on the Grand Vitara is
damn good for a car of this segment, and
is capable in the rough stuff. The two-
speed drivetrain is something that should
be appreciated -Toyota's RAV4 and the
1999 Suzui GrandVi 8t
3 Base Price: $20999
3 Price as Tested: $21,429
3 ,Enne: 24-valve DOHC V-6
3 Power: 155 bhp @ 6500 rpm
3 Performance: 0-60 In 10.0 sec
3 Torque: 160 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
3 EPA City driving: 19 mi/gal
Honda CR-V cannot go into low range,
and the Subaru Forester is an all-wheel
You can shift-on-the-fly up to 62 miles
per hour while traveling straight, but I
feared the worst and tried to stay under 30
mph while doing so. Atlanta was a nice
town, but I didn't want to spend another
night eating at Kristie's Country Kitchen.
Before one of the night stages of
SnoDrift, we were asked to park off the
road so an ambulance could pass through
in case of disaster. I didn't think the Grand
Vitara would be up for a trip through the
snow, but a swift toss into 4-low was all I
needed. The little sport-utility chugged
through two feet of snow and mud in no
time. After the rally, getting out of the
hole we created was no problem either -
we exited while I looked back and saw an
old BMW 325ix having difficulty with
the snow mound we made in our wake.
What makes the Grand Vitara that
much more grand from the regular Vitara
is not clear, but the GV is a bit more
puffed up with lower body effects and
fender flares. The Vitara is also limited to
a 16-valve four cylinder, while the Grand
Vitara gets the 24-valve, 2.5 liter V-6.
Is it worth 21K? I'd rather have the
Forester any day, or even the old favorite
Jeep Wrangler. But, for off-roaders,
Suzuki's four-wheel drive is better than a
Honda or Toyota, the reigning champs of
this market. Also, the V-6, while measly,
is the only one of its class and could be
less annoying for the long haul.
- Reilly Brennan yearns to be a Pro
Rally Driver He can be reached at
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