Photo courtesy of Lily Andrey.
Radio not only lives, it thrives on our campus this semester. Although they all share the same title of radio DJ, each one provides a unique experience for their listeners. This series aims to spotlight the various radio shows available to everyone on campus and perhaps persuade you to switch up the Spotify shuffle and try a new method of listening to music.
Aaron Puerzer ’24
Name of Show(s): Gold Soundz & Harrisburg Pike Revisited
Radio Hour(s): Tuesday 2 -4 p.m. & Friday 1 -2 p.m.
Aaron Puerzer, Senior and President of WFNM, brings indie-alternative music from the 80s to the present day to the booth during his hours. The music is not focused during the hour but is “contained under one indie umbrella from the last 40 years.” The time will focus on blocks of songs, perhaps scene to scene, and maybe a decade jump. The two-hour time block allows for Puerzer to create a gradient of sound— starting off with a louder, more aggressive rock and slowly shifting to softer acoustic indie by the time the show finishes. Every few songs, listeners will hear an anecdote related to the music. Puerzer considers himself a “semi-obsessive” music listener and enjoys sharing his knowledge. He might tell you where a song is on an album, or a fun fact about the band, in hopes that one listener will gain something from the experience.
He chose this genre because it is the music he has always loved. With a family history of radio DJs, his father is a big influence on why he gravitated toward this music. His favorite part of hosting a show is “sharing [his] music because music tastes aren’t exactly the mainstream music taste.” Sometimes artists will reach out asking for their music to be played, and he enjoys that local community connection as well. Puerzer believes that college radio music has a niche audience and, therefore utilize the opportunity to share niche music. WFNM doesn’t have to play the same 50 songs with 10-minute ad breaks because it is independent, which is a unique experience.
The booth is Puerzer’s favorite place on campus. He emphasized that radio allowed him to forge a music community and meet new people. By senior year, his classes consist of the same people but radio allows him to constantly forge new connections with others. It also allows him to connect with others outside of campus. WXPN, an independent station out of Philly, had a booth at a local concert in Lancaster. The DJ told Aaron that he listens to WFNM regularly, and always loves what he hears. The moment was a fun reminder that the 89.1 impacts people without direct connections to F&M.
Puerzer chose “Gold Soundz” as his title because it is his favorite song by his favorite band, Pavement. “Harrisburg Pike Revisited” is co-hosted with WFNM vice president, Dylan Sykes. The title is a twist on Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” because both enjoy his music. Each week they decide on a theme and go from there. Hosting alone is a different experience than hosting with Sykes. There is a sense of enjoyment in “talking into a void” during “Gold Soundz.” However, the most interesting experience of hosting with another person is realizing how they interpret the music differently.
Aaron Puerzer would tell you to join WFNM if you’re considering it. A radio hour gives you time dedicated to yourself in a cool space. Radio is a positive and uplifting experience that is also incredibly fun. As Puerzer would tell you, “He’s incredibly proud of WFNM.”
Dylan Sykes ’25
Name of Show(s): The Breakdown & Harrisburg Pike Revisited
Radio Hour(s): Tuesday 12 -2 p.m. & Friday 1 -2 p.m.
Dylan Sykes, Junior and Vice President of WFNM, uses “The Breakdown” to dive into the hyper-specificity of various genres, artists, years, and movements of music in the 20th and 21st century. The focal point of each show will change weekly but listeners are guaranteed to be exposed to both the compositional and historical context. Sykes believes learning is appreciating that every song is special – and should be approached as such. In recent weeks one hour has been focused on albums released in 1985 or the New York Underground scene. Overall, he likes to bounce around genres and keep things diverse.
“The Breakdown ” is titled such because that is exactly what it is – a breakdown of the music listeners are hearing. Sykes is a self-titled music “snob,” but in reality is just a person who finds greater enjoyment in his listening experience when he has context. Despite his greatest efforts to stray away from their taste as a child, his parents were his initial influence with artists like Pink Floyd and King Crimson; As well as “All Things Considered”, the NPR podcast that grew his appreciation for genres he did not know. Sykes’ love of music grew over the COVID-19 pandemic with a purchase of his record player because listening to music was the only thing he could do.
Unsurprisingly, Sykes enjoys talking between songs. His favorite part of hosting a show is the opportunity for self-expression but also the possibility that other people, even strangers, are reconnecting with their memories through his selections. Music is a highly emotional experience and to unlock those emotions is a powerful thing. He has found that his time in the booth for the past three years has opened him up to new music as his daily routine. Sykes enjoys bringing friends into the booth too. “The Breakdown” is a time of focus and never a chore.
Sykes encourages those interested to join WFNM. As VP, he witnesses firsthand the excitement in people’s faces while training. He feels a sense of ownership in the booth during his hours and it is a vitally important outlet for expression. He’d tell you, “Support college radio because radio lives and F&M.”
Gaia Dash ’27
Name of Show(s): … And Beyond
Radio Hour(s): Wednesday 11 -12 p.m. & Thursday 4 -5 p.m.
A first year and member of the Exec Board, Gaia Dash brings her eclectic but digestible sense of music to the booth. Her show is a wonderful listen for those who are looking for more niche music, but aren’t exactly sure where to start. Each song is chosen meticulously and spans genres such as Rock and Roll, Alternative, Jazz, Hip-Hop, and anything else she is feeling that day. Dash feels that her personal connection to radio expanded her taste in music, therefore, she always shares the title and artist of each song she plays and occasionally provides some background. However, she prefers to let the music speak for itself.
Her title “…And Beyond” is inspired by her calling card— “Listeners in Lancaster and Beyond”, a nod to friends and family back home in Long Island.
Her time in between songs is spent journaling or completing her tasks as a station manager. Overall, Dash values her time in the booth as a moment of peace in her busy schedule. The process of curating her playlist, “A little obsessive[ly], but not in a bad way,” is her favorite part of hosting a radio show.
If you are considering joining WFNM Gaia Dash would tell you to do it. “As someone who is intimidated by radio, it’s not as scary as you would think it would be”, says Dash. It is an hour to use your voice and improve public speaking skills.
Eddie Chisholm ’27
Name of Show(s): Jazzorcism
Radio Hour(s): Saturday 5-6 p.m.
First year Eddie Chisholm will provide you with an hour strictly devoted to jazz on your Saturday evenings. Jazzercism portrays the evolution of Jazz over the past century. The show does not chronologically follow this evolution, but is a combination of standards and modern fusions. Although she prefers not to talk, she will occasionally share interesting information she found during her research. For example, one time she played a song and learned afterwards that the song was co-written by AI which changed her listening experience.
And if you’re curious about the origin of Jazzorcism, it is a creation by Eddie’s dad.
Making the playlist beforehand and researching is Chisholm’s favorite aspect of hosting a show. She enjoys discovering relevant information about a genre that is constantly evolving. Her time in the booth is shared with friends and shares her findings then. An unexpected experience of hosting Chisholm has endured was the first fifteen minutes of unknowing “dead air”- when no music or sound is being played- during her first show. The incident has not been repeated.
Eddie Chisholm would tell you you should WFNM because “If you’re already gonna be listening to music and with friends might as well make something of it.”
Anna Purchase ’27
Name of Show(s): Looking for Andromeda (possibly)
Radio Hour(s): Friday 9 -10 a.m.
First year Anna Purchase attempts to bring a little bit of everything to her listeners on Friday mornings with heavy 90s indie influence. For Purchase, her hour is a way to connect with her friends and family internationally so she will play some of their favorites: Bowie, The Beatles, The Cranberries, Lana Del Ray, Lorde, Chamber Pop, 60s Folk. As mentioned, truly a little bit of everything. The common thread between each song is Purchase’s opinion on the relationship between the lyricism and composition. She believes it to be, “Irritating when the composition and lyrics are disjointed. When they don’t reinforce the meaning, it loses value”. Each week, she makes sure to have a solid opener and closer and crafts her hour from there in the moment. Purchase prefers not to talk into the mic therefore her hour is mostly dedicated to the music.
The name, although not official, is inspired by “Andromeda” by Weyes Blood. Purchase has an affinity for this song because it is an example of a beautifully crafted relationship between lyrics and composition. The song discusses clique topics in a unique way that is reinforced through its atmospheric, water-like sound.
For Purchase, her hour is like a live call with her friends and family. The 12-hour time difference gives her limited chances to talk to her parents back home. However, this time gives her the opportunity to play music she knows they will enjoy and talk to them throughout it. Purchase highly values this experience, however, is less favorable when her mother nags her on her microphone etiquette.
Her favorite part of her show is setting up and playing the first song. Actually, it’s the moment before the first song where she can play the PSA and tag. Her personal favorite is the one voiced by McCarthy. She finishes her show with Obama because she believes it’s “Slightly campy to play Obama after McCarthy ”. The technical plights of Purchase’s show cannot be ignored either – the aux cords that fail to connect, locked booth doors, and the Christmas light limbo that occurs once that door is unlocked.
Anna Purchase would tell you to join WFNM because if you like music, it is the coolest thing ever. It is a privilege that we have access to it. Radio was a large reason why she decided to study in the United States because the opportunity is not available internationally. She also feels that as a woman there is pressure to have “the right taste in music” – the idea that she needs to like the specific genres to omit a certain aesthetic or have an understanding of certain genres to be taken seriously as a music lover. However, at WNFM, that pressure does not exist. Purchase would tell you to “take pride and have confidence that the music you listen to is important to share.”
President Aaron Puerzer shared some additional thoughts on the importance of the radio:
Radio is a dying art, however, it has had a massive revival on campus since 2020. COVID put a damper on the growth of the club. In fact, many students were unaware of the existence of WFNM. Every semester feels like a period of rebuilding – until now. The freshmen class showed an overwhelming interest in the club, which gives Puerzer fantastic hope for the future.
Radio lives, and so does the connection to WFNM and Franklin and Marshall alumni. Over True Blue Weekend, there will be a Radio Reunion celebrating 50 years since switching from AM to FM. On Saturday, October 28th, with former WFNM DJs. From 10am-1pm, alumni have the opportunity to rekindle their connection with the mic and share their music and experiences as a DJ.
Freshman Lily Andrey is a Contributing Writer. Her email is email@example.com.