Back at my alma mater, I was a DJ on our college station for the entire time I was a student–and then, when I stayed in town for a year after graduation, I was lucky enough to continue my show a little while longer. And I loved it.
This was before the station went fully digital and when only a few people owned the coveted new iPod; we played everything on CDs that had to be switched in & out and carefully monitored to prevent dreaded dead air. Not as old as spinning records, but not the stuff of instant playlists either.
And I loved it: carefully choosing songs for mood, for continuity, and often, just for fun. I played Ben Lee’s “Cigarettes Will Kill You” nearly every week, and The Black Eyed Peas were still a new, indie band. There was Dave Matthews followed by Phish, Rosie Thomas and Over the Rhine, and often a dash of Tori Amos.
The shows themselves changed nearly every year: I had a short-lived run at an early morning show, and I think I even tried to do a classic rock show (totally because of a crush on a guy who liked…yep, classic rock), but I found my groove playing mellow indie music on Friday afternoons. Together, a friend and I co-hosted “The Girls From Canton” doing just that. As for the name, well, she was from Canton, MI, while I grew up in Canton, GA, united by our collegiate music tastes and that one time when she broke her back while on my birthday ski trip. That’s a blog post for another day, but safe to say she was really, really lucky and is still walking today. And, I don’t doubt, still skiing.
As a student leader at the station, I travelled to New York City to meet other collegiate broadcasters and even considered making radio a career for awhile. The station wasn’t heard more than about 15 miles away, but even still I developed a faithful following–or at least, that one guy who called during my final show to say he’d miss my laughter on air (I know, I know: a little creepy, perhaps?).
Fast forward ten years or so, and all that’s left of those days are fond memories and a slightly warbling cassette tape recording of one of my last shows. Now, I’m back on a campus but as an observer of the experiences of the students around me.
You may not be surprised, then, that when I started making a list of experiences to photograph on campus, the Sweet Briar radio station was near the top (and in a happy coincidence, the frequency is the same as my alma mater). I stopped in one night while on campus and met Vianey, in the middle of her show. She let me snap a few pictures, but mostly indulged my nostalgia for a few minutes.
Recently, we’ve started a new project in MMC: a photo essay of favorite places around campus. We’re starting with a handful of young women, photographing each in the spot that’s truly “her” Sweet Briar experience. It will make its official debut in the spring alumnae magazine (and online), but I’m sharing this sneak peek with you now.
When we started soliciting location ideas, Vianey’s name popped up on the first list. So I was more than happy to meet her back at the station and take some time creating photographs that, I hope, capture what I’ve seen of her personality and her love for college radio. My days on the airwaves may be over, but thanks to Vianey, I lived vicariously for a few more minutes.