Been There, Done That: Pt. 3

btdt3Natalia Zúñiga

Music Director 2006-2007
Station Manger 2007-2009

What made you first want to join Radio UTD?
I met Shil Patel and Ben Vaughn at some sort of welcome event the summer before freshman year. They seemed like the kind of people I’d been waiting to meet all through high school–very knowledgeable about music and a billion other things that at the time were just beginning to blow my mind. I applied for a show immediately, thinking (correctly) that the Radio would be exactly the kind of environment I’d love to have in college. It’s definitely a completely different kind of education.

How did Radio change from when you started to when you left?
When I started, we already had a pretty nice location in the Student Union. We cleaned that place up and added a lounge when we finally got the office for the music director. Before, the office was right next to the mics…and phone calls were pretty awkward. We had a couple shows on XM Sirius through something called “The Student Exchange Program.” We won the Golden Comet the year before I left. I’d like to think we made a good difference! At least, more of the student body started to know we had a Radio Station.

What were your favorite albums in the years you were a DJ?
Broadcast – Tender Buttons. Beach House – Beach House. Animal Collective – Feels. John Maus – Love is Real. Probably a million more…so much good music.

What were your favorite new discoveries in the years you were a DJ?
I hosted a radio show with a lovely lady, named Cassandra Emswiler, that had leaned heavily on Italo Disco. I loved learning from Cassie about Disco and early House and electronic music. It still is some of the most amazing music in the world.

What were your favorite (or most memorable) events during your time in Radio UTD?
We hosted a Domino listening party for Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavillion at the (now-defunct) Cavern in Lower Greenville. That day was one of the coldest days of the year. I think the roads might have frozen. The whole block went dark, including all the buildings around us. Somehow, we were one of the only places with electricity, and lots of people came to listen to the album. It was nice and cozy, we played it about five times over. It’s a good memory.

Bowie Homecoming
Kaitlin and DJs dressed as Bowie for the Homecoming Parade
Kaitlin Butler

Music Director 2007-2009
Station Manager 2009-2010

I was miserable my first few weeks at UTD. I didn’t really know where I fit in as a literary-minded music nerd; it felt like there were engineers and physics majors at every turn, but I didn’t know where to find people that I connected with, people who spoke my language. I vividly remember the first time I heard about Radio UTD. I was leaving the library, and I saw two guys at a table in front of the Student Union playing “Holland, 1945” over some speakers. In my mind, I knew that I had found some kindred spirits. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was the first album I had ever fallen in love with. I went over to talk to them, and lo and behold, they were trying to recruit young innocents to DJ for the station. I remember being so nervous when they asked me who I had been listening to lately—I very much wanted to make a good impression! A few weeks later, I went to a Flaming Lips show (for free! Thanks, Radio UTD) with a some of the management team at the time, and they convinced me to apply. I fell in love with the station from my very first show, where I was so nervous that the guy who was training me had to tell me that yes, I did have to actually talk on the mic every now and then.

While I was music director, and for years after, I told everyone that it’s the best job in the world. I still truly believe that. I got to go to work with the most dedicated people, who never gave up in the face of a tiny budget, a woefully inadequate space, and a university that didn’t always know what to do with us. Despite all this, the radio station formed an intense community that transformed the college experience of those who got involved. Everyone bonded over their love of music, and their near evangelism in getting others to hear what they loved. I made some of my closest friends through Radio UTD, and I’m so glad that it’s still going strong today.

My favorite memories from my radio days were the very first events that we threw. Before my tenure, our main events were showcases with local bands, but we started making a real effort to engage more members of the UTD community with other offerings. I’ll never forget Stu McAfee starting off every dance party with his amazing moves so that the shy people would feel comfortable enough to join in, or the time we paired up with SUAAB for a hip hop history lecture that drew an audience bigger than we’d ever had. We made a definite difference in the feel of UT Dallas; people came up to me all the time and wanted to know how they could get involved or how Radio UTD could help in their events. As we grew, we went from a small niche player in the UTD scene to a name that everyone seemed to know and were genuinely excited about. Our planning sessions from those days were incredibly bold and hopeful (and perhaps at times, a bit delusional). We thought that with enough hard work, we could leave a legacy that would benefit UTD for years to come, and I like to think that we did.

I’m incredibly proud of my time at the station, and I think the next ten years are only going to show the station getting even better. Who knows, maybe a LPFM station is in the works after all!