Creative chaos

    It’s just another day in the Student Center, and the pockets of creativity tucked away in the corners are buzzing.

    Amie Hrabak/Guardian
    Give us a call: Elli Tirosch and Steve York get into the fun as they film the call in show “”Moan and Groan”” at the Student Run Television studios .

    “”There’s a ton of history here,”” said Rishi Shah, general manager at KSDT radio, gesturing to the station. “”If you look at our records, we’ve got the Zeppelin collection, the Dylan collection.”” Shah, an Earl Warren College junior, leaned back in his chair, his black shirt boasting a hot-pink Van Halen-esque KSDT logo. He smiled.

    “”We have something like 40 different David Bowie records.””

    And it’s true. There are 40 Bowie records among hundreds of other vinyl albums neatly stacked shoulder-high and consuming two entire rooms, in addition to shelf after shelf of new compact discs. There is no need for wallpaper at KSDT; this station is meant to house, showcase and broadcast hard-to-find music.

    Amie Hrabak/Guardian
    Don’t lose your shirt: Jon Engquist, Steve York, and Mike Toillion (from left) get goofy and naked as they answer call-in questions all night long on one of SRTV’s most popular shows, “”Moan and Groan.””

    Seated in an unassuming office decorated with mail bins and free stickers from music labels, Shah smiled again and nodded his head in welcome toward the lobby. A DJ who had just stepped in from the bustle of the Student Center nodded back and made a beeline to the broadcast room, equipped with a full sound board. It was time for a radio show.

    Upstairs and around the corner, amid cables, cameras and circuits, a new professional lighting grid on the ceiling shone hotly down on the Student-Run Television station. A few stars of SRTV ambled about the station, editing footage, tinkering with camera equipment and generally just hanging out.

    Standing in front of the official production schedule white-erase board that even features small illustrations for several shows, John Muir College junior Steve York pontificated about the meaning, drive and philosophy of SRTV.

    “”Essentially, we’re a good resource; we teach students how to use a camera and how to put together a show,”” said York, who works on a call-in question and answer show named “”Moan and Groan.”” “”Plus, SRTV is the only outlet where you can basically go out, play practical jokes on people and insult them. We really try to be accommodating in that department.””

    Those who staff KSDT radio and SRTV are slaves to the broadcast media. They’d have to be‹working long hours without pay takes some major dedication.

    Both stations are located in the Student Center, a place that Shah described as quite progressive on an otherwise stuffy campus. Both broadcast their own media, produce their own shows, are at the forefront of college media with online broadcasts and run their stations professionally. And both are very poised to inundate UCSD. Each station, however, is a very different animal.

    KSDT is the hip dinosaur of the Student Center, primed to make the leap from the past into the future. As the Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan vinyl collections attest, the student-run radio station has been around longer than the people who run it have been alive. It’s definitely got seniority, but in KSDT’s case, seniority means a passion to aggressively pursue the KSDT motto, “”fiercely independent college radio.””

    “”This used to be the station that broadcasted Chargers games,”” Shah said. “”Then, we lost our signal and things went downhill.””

    He admits that not only did the loss of the frequency on the radio dial make listenership and motivation go downhill, it stuck KSDT in a rut that Shah is intent on leading his staff of 100-strong out of. The upward climb began with a new approach to radio and some new digs.

    Last year, KSDT focused on drumming up interest and getting students into the station to wake them up about what was happening. Live bands made appearances, the show schedule grew stronger, and efforts shifted from searching for a radio frequency ‹ a license nearly impossible to land considering the Clear Channel control on the dial ‹ to concentrating on making the Web broadcast, the new way to listen to radio.

    “”I used to just walk by the station and look in, and this year I said what the fuck, I should go in and do a show,”” said Warren junior Jeremy Wale as he began his Monday radio show, The Joker Joint at 2 a.m. “”I know I got a bad time slot, but it’s fun to do, I get to play all this independent, indie rock music that I would never usually hear, and I basically get to say anything I want on the mic.””

    Over the summer, KSDT’s walls (previously covered in writing from staff’s past and old, makeshift soundproofing), the ceilings (falling apart) and furniture (full of holes and presents from rats) were replaced in a major remodeling operation. Shah put his foot down and raised his voice for the station, and got the university to refurbish provided the KSDT staff moved everything by itself.

    “”This place was falling apart,”” Shah said.

    Emphasis on “”was.””

    This year is all about forging ahead. There are some ideas germinating at the station such as a study lounge and practice room for bands. The ideas circulate, yet there is no question that they will soon become reality. KSDT is undoubtedly a major campus outlet, and Shah recognized that it nearly died. Now that the physical place is finally falling into place, he’s intent on reviving the station. His nothing-less-than ambitious plan includes staying at the forefront of college radio.

    “”Internet radio is going to be the way people listen to radio, and when that kicks in as being the thing to do, we re going to be the best college radio in the country,”” Shah said. “”We have the independent spirit, we are people who really enjoy music, and I just want people to know about KSDT; if you walk around campus, people will know what KSDT is.””

    KSDT is a special breed, and holds its own candle on a campus known for scientific research. It is no surprise that SRTV was a spin-off of the radio station. A few students at KSDT had the rumblings of an idea about a student-run television station that could broadcast live KSDT radio programs and increase its profile as well as air the music videos of the bands that were featured at KSDT.

    Eight years and $30,000 later, SRTV General Manager Jared Lindo sits in an exceedingly warm production room, faced with numerous televisions and audio mixers that look like something out of Star Trek to the novice. He watches over the direction of SRTV as it changes from a station that only broadcasted KSDT radio programs, to station that created entirely original material.

    “”I want everyone on this campus to know about SRTV,”” Lindo said, echoing KSDT’s goal. “”I want people to watch our station because our programs are so good, that it becomes the thing to do.””

    Though SRTV broadcasts on Triton Cable channel 18, SRTV also takes an alternative route to reaching viewers. According to Lindo, SRTV is one in under five college television stations in the country with an internet broadcast. And, it works. The call-in shows like “”Sexy Sexy Show”” and “”Moan and Groan”” can have the station telephone lines ringing with questions until 6 a.m. (incedentially, this happens most often when the topic turns to sex).

    “”We grew out of KSDT but then people really started to pay attention when we got more independent and started producing more mainstream-esque shows,”” Lindo said. “”Each year we just got stronger, and with the funds we received, we were able to get some real equipment in here.””

    With three professional quality studio cameras, one small digital/video handheld camera, two new editing computers on the way, a stage and some good old fashioned initiative, SRTV is truly in a place it’s never been before ‹ producing a full season of shows with equipment on hand, and a staff that is growing quickly.

    “”Luvmatch,”” a dating show with pre-recorded footage shot and edited this summer, is produced by Program Manager Chelsea “”The Juice”” Welch and garners avid viewers. It is the highlight of the station’s production schedule and is a show that everyone takes pride in

    “”I’m glad I got here when I did because SRTV is growing and before long, UCSD is going to be known for it,”” Lindo said. “”There’s no reason it shouldn’t.””

    He leaned forward, seemingly unaware that the cameras were on him (but not taping) and his image was on the four televisions that surrounded him. He tapped his foot and considered the five years ahead of SRTV.

    “”There will be that point where we become really well-known, and the shows just keep getting better,”” Lindo said. “”Until then, we walk a fine line between staying true to the media, being independent and censorship-free and becoming popular. It’s a difficult line to walk.””

    But SRTV walks it, just as KSDT does. They may even start to run.

    “”It’s the future down here,”” Shah said. “”Things are ready to explode.””

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