KSFS brings innovative mediums of music to the radio

Christian Joseph Arriola, a music major at SF State and drummer for Phlogiston, plays drums at the KSFS Radio station on "Music Under the Stairs" on Tuesday, March, 14, 2017 (Garrick Wong/Xpress)

By choosing to showcase live music instead of typical pre-recorded music, SF State’s KSFS Radio station is pushing the boundaries of the airwaves.

The resident radio station is utilizing the innovative idea on their Music Under the Stairs segment hosted by Amanda Fletcher. Fletcher, who also acts as KSFS program director, is always trying to test the limits with music on the radio.

Fletcher, known as Lady G. on-air, said the station recruits at least a couple bands to play live each school year.

“We hook them up to the radio station and it’s awesome; it’s fun,” Fletcher said.

The band selection process is up to the segment host, and Fletcher said she relies on her level of trust the band will respect the radio lounge space — but many bands are found through outside sources.

“It’s all through word-of-mouth or emails,” Fletcher said. We don’t typically have random bands coming in here just, you know, off the street.”

Jeff Jacoby, associate professor of audio and radio in broadcast and electronic communication arts and KSFS advisor, encourages segment hosts to think outside the box and consider what other students might think is interesting.

“My job is to create opportunity for the student — that simple,” Jacoby said. “I say to my radio students at the beginning of every semester, ‘What would you do if I had a radio station with recording equipment and broadcast signal and I told you that I’m going to give you an hour to do whatever you want on the radio?’”

Difficulties of this production, which airs on Tuesday from 7-9 p.m. on the KSFS Media website, mostly consists of issues with time or space. According to Fletcher, musicians’ schedules tend to create a struggle when producing a radio show.

“Working with bands is still working with artists,” Fletcher said. “They have crazy schedules and you never quite know what you’re going to get out of them. It’s all a game of time for sure.”

Mike Kelley, former Music Under the Stairs co-host and current KSFS Media production manager, shed some light on the “chaos” behind the “Embrace the Chaos” station motto.

“Actually working on the board to mix all the levels of all the different instruments and making it sound right, that’s the (most fun) part for me,” Kelley said. “If there’s no sound coming from the board or there’s just, I don’t know, technical difficulties, that’s the most stressful part.”

SF State student band Phlogiston had the most recent opportunity to play for a segment. Although technical difficulties prevented them from broadcasting live, members Tyler Wood, Christian Joseph Arriola and Daxton Macfarlane enjoyed the experience.

“I enjoyed my time playing on KSFS despite all of the technical difficulties,” said Wood, guitarist and vocalist. “Though we didn’t actually get to play live on the station, we played our set anyway and got some rad recordings out of the deal.”

Fletcher’s knowledge and strength as a radio host are continually improving with the challenges her advisor Jacoby throws her way.

“I have handed her challenge, after challenge, after challenge to see what she can do, not for me, but for her,” Jacoby said. “Music Under the Stairs is one of those challenges.”

It may be difficult to get a live band in every week, but Fletcher said she will always be dedicated to providing her listeners with quality music and radio with her segment.

“My listeners trust me and my co-host Marta to provide some good tunes that they can jam to every single Tuesday night,” Fletcher said. “Even if something bad happens with the band, I’m slaving to my listeners. I want to make sure that they still get music that they can listen to.”

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