My friend from Inquirer asked me to write about my URock experience for the paper. Unfortunately, it wasn’t able to to run, which apparently is how the industry works sometimes. I know I already wrote my tribute entry, but since I don’t want to waste words I thought I would post it here. It gives you more insight into the whole DJ-ing experience in general (including some of my more embarrassing moments) than what I previously said.
URocked My Life
“Have you met my friend Rica? She’s a DJ on URock.” said a friend when she introduced me at a party. Luckily it was dark so they didn’t see me struggling giddily to keep my composure because admittedly, I secretly liked hearing that byline being said out loud.
University Rock or “URock” is a radio segment on NU 107 that runs from 9-11 every Monday night. It is exactly what the segment title suggests – an opportunity for university students to rock the airwaves.
The music is from unsigned college bands while the show is handled by students moonlighting as DJ’s in their sometimes not-so-spare-time. The show also hosts live interviews and performances from young entrepreneurs and guest bands.
Each season only lasts for a semester, meaning that a new group of jocks end up having to pry the headset and microphone away from the often unwilling hands of the previous batch. That’s just how much the URock experience is worth the effort to travel to the station late on a school night.
Personally, my memories are rich with all kinds of “firsts” from epic encounters with famous rock stars to embarrassing statements said on air. Until this day, I’ll never forget popping my DJ cherry with Sponge Cola’s Yael Yuzon as one of my interviewees on the first show I hosted. My partner Lisane and I could hardly contain our shameless fangirldom.
Despite being a naturally talkative person, another first was discovering how easy it was to run out of things to say. Jittery nerves had a way of triggering temporary memory loss for conversation topics and sometimes hindered my ability to muster a witty comeback.
To ensure that I didn’t embarrass myself, I remember clutching dearly to a cheat sheet containing my mini spiels. After all, who wants their tongue twisting and turning in all the wrong places? As it is a live broadcast, on-air-fumbles are one of the worst things that can happen to a DJ. At least that’s what I used to think.
Mico Halili, URock’s producer constantly reminds the jocks that it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you improve from them. Those are wise words coming from Lord Vader himself, a nickname bequeathed to him by our jock batch. As enlightening as his words were, it was advice that was sometimes difficult to swallow, most especially when your blunders were being broadcasted for everyone to hear.
I still remember how mortifying my first on-air blooper felt. Using the standard introduction spiel, I unconsciously said “I’m URock jock Rica from THE Ateneo.” I couldn’t believe my ears! This long-held joke about Atenistas probably earned me some unintentional snickers.
This demonstrated one important thing I learned though, that sometimes things don’t always go according to plan. Although a pain, experience is indeed the best teacher. As a DJ, that’s a lesson we not only have to learn but one we have to own, by way of witty comeback, savvy rhetoric and a good sense of humor.
We may have pre-set questions and conversation topics to help guide the show but spontaneity? You can’t plan that. It is this extemporaneous banter that is both the appeal and challenge of being a DJ. You live in the moment and make the most of it, both for the benefit of your listeners and your dignity.
In retrospect it’s amusing to remember some of the things my co-host and I have said live – intentional or not. During a college band interview with Mango Float we built most of our spiel on one very important question: what floats your mango? The answers of which were very entertaining.
But the most startling moment is still when Lisane once called me a “tranny” on-air, an inside joke that till this day I still can’t believe she disclosed to the public! My friends had a field day filling my Facebook wall with all sorts of hilarious but totally untrue posts.
Although I should probably not repeat that here, it doesn’t bother me because URock helped me learn the value of rolling with the punches. Verbal blunders and embarrassing statements are not the worst thing that can happen. Not being able to recover afterwards is.
After the initial boo-boos and newbie anxiety wore off, it was easy to forget that I was ever nervous to begin with. I was doing something that I loved – talking and sharing stories with the people around me.
As a communications major, dabbling in radio was a great way to learn outside the classroom. Luckily for me, my practical experience was magnified a thousand-fold thanks to a cool station run by a team of great people who play awesome music. My time there quickly became as natural and comfortable as having a conversation with friends over a cup of coffee or a couple of beers, except with a bunch of eavesdroppers.
Prior to URock I never considered DJ-ing as a career. But now if I could be paid to talk for a living then I would never shut up. It’s all about heart. And that’s why despite its premature ending URock and NU 107 will continue to live on through the lives they rocked.
Thank you NU 107. URocked my life. Without a doubt it will be one of the coolest and luckiest things I could have ever done and a byline that I’ll always be proud to bear, whether it’s said out loud or not.