Bears on the air: How to make it on WXOU

Ever have a great idea for a radio show or podcast? Ever been told you have a great voice for radio? WXOU might be for you.

Located on the lower level of the Oakland Center a short jot from the Habitat, 88.3FM WXOU The Grizz is the on-campus student-run radio station for Oakland University. Hosting a variety of live and pre-recorded programming, WXOU provides students the opportunity to get hands-on experience in the world of radio.

Of course, they do not simply hand out radio shows to every person who passes through their corner of the OC. You still need to apply, be it online or with one of the brand new paper applications found outside the station. And if you have never touched a sound mixer or recorded your voice before, that’s OK — no prior radio or audio experience is required.

“It is why we are there, to help people train and to give them the experience they need,” said Marty Shafer, faculty adviser and coordinator of broadcast services.

Shafer started his time at WXOU as a DJ in 2006.

“When I first started there, I had no experience,” he said. “I learned everything that I know now basically at the radio station, so any major, any experience is more than welcome.”

When the form is filled out and sent in, expect to hear from Assistant Programing Director Brendan Triola shortly after.

Along with the roughly 100 DJ applications sent in the fall semester, yours has landed an in-studio demo with Triola. A demo with Triola starts in a studio with a quick 10-minute runthrough over the equipment. 

“It is a lot of people’s first time using audio recording software, so that can be a bit challenging for them,” Triola said. “They come in [the studio], record a two or three minute segment. They kinda briefly talk about what they want to do for the show, but it is more about getting used to the process of the show and how it works.”

After introducing themselves and getting used to identifying the station on-air, prospective DJs learn how to play introduce and play out a song and read some public service announcements from a script. A DJ will either be given a pre-recorded nighttime slot under Triola or a live daytime spot with Program Director Teyler Thompkins. 

How long a show runs on WXOU is completely up to the DJ, according to Shafer.

“They can totally run all year,” he said. “And after you graduate, if you want to continue to do your show, you can still do it. We have had people that graduated 10 years ago that still do their shows.” 

Diving headfirst into the world of radio can seem intimidating — especially to those who have never done radio work — but Triola said there is no need to be afraid.

“Just do it,” he said. “I think that a lot of times what turns people away is that they do not feel like they would be ready … I have never had a demo where someone has not asked a question, and that is totally OK.”