by: Tina "Dr. Romance" Tessina, Ph.D.
If you would like to be a DJ or public affairs host on KUCI, it's more possible than you may think. When I first heard about the training class, I thought I'd never make it to hosting my own show, and I promise you, if a fossil like me can do it, so can you. It's an amazing deal - I've been offered training that cost thousands of dollars, and this one went for less than $10. The training is excellent, and very thorough, and the best way I know to get on the radio. The time commitment is easy--one hour per week. The test is not so easy, but with serious study, you-like many others-can pass it. Competition for radio shows is stiff - those who volunteer and show their interest in KUCI have the best chance to get one.
As you get to know the staff of KUCI, what stands out is how dedicated and passionate they are about KUCI and public radio in general. I have never experienced a more helpful group of folks - everyone wants the station to work, and they'll help you do a good job.
According to KUCI Broadcast Media Coordinator Kevin Stockdale, "We've been training folks, for better or worse, since 1969. We started the classroom setting in 1986."
To help you understand how the training works, I interviewed past trainers, Archpope Dach, host of "Closed Caskets for the Living Impaired" who ran the class I attended, and the current training director, Rachel Crane, host of "Quantum Foam."
Tina: How long have you taught the training class?
Rachel: I started teaching in the summer of 2002. This spring will be my last quarter teaching KUCI training, as the position lasts for only one year.
Dach: I started with the station 7 years ago when the training program was already in place. I did training for a [school] year, 2001- 2002. Management positions are always one-year terms, and while renewals aren't out of the question, they rarely happen.
T: When I quote the manual, who am I quoting?
R: Dach wrote the bulk of the manual. I've edited it a bit due to policy changes and such, but it's mostly Dach.
D: Yes, I wrote the whole manual, except for the quotes from the FCC. I used previous training manuals for guidance, but I felt the station needed a more comprehensive manual.
T: What's the best thing about teaching the class?
R: The best thing about teaching the class, aside from forcing my opinions on others, is getting to know the trainees. Most of the trainees are pretty fun people, and now I know more KUCI staff members. Meeting everybody at KUCI is difficult since the entire staff is never together at one time. Most of the people I know at KUCI currently have or in the past had a show directly before or after my show.
T: What about you, Dach?
D: Seeing all the new trainees, but also knowing that I'm a big part of the solution, making sure that the people we put on the air actually know what they're doing.
T: Is there anything you don't like about training?
R: I don't like failing people. The trainees who stick with the class long enough to take the final put many hours into their training. To have them fail because they just didn't study or rushed through the exam is always a little heartbreaking.
D: People who get mad when I can't bend the class to their whims, or let them pass when they failed.
T: When will the next class be offered?
R: The spring training course begins Thursday, April 10 at 7pm. It's open to all community members 18 and older.
D: We offer classes every quarter.
T: Are you planning any changes?
R: The only changes I'm planning for this coming quarter are for the purposes of efficiency. The spring class is going to be huge. I can tell, due to all of the e-mails I continue to receive requesting information on the course. I'll need to maintain the focus of the class so that we don't run over on time or skip over any of the information I need to present to the trainees. If people get too 'involved' and spend the entire class time in discussion, we'll never get through it all. With so many students, I'll really have to crack down on digressions.
D: There will be a whole new training manual. It'll have all the same info as the last manual, but will look different.
T: What was the biggest class ever?
R: My first class had about 42 people in it. I don't know what the largest is. I do know that over the past couple of years, KUCI has become more prominent within Orange County. When I trained back in 1999, I think only 30 or so started the class, and only about a dozen took the final. This past year, I've had a far greater retention rate, as well as some large class sizes from the get go.
T: How is the pass/fail ratio, usually?
R: The pass/fail ratio has been pretty good in my three previous classes. About 80% of the people who start the class take the final, and about 80% of the people who take the final pass the course. Historically, about half of the people who start the class take the final, and half of those pass.
D: It seemed to be about the same when I did it, that is, 1/3 of the people passed, compared to how many started out.
T: How long ago did you take the class, and were you a KUCI student at the time?
R: I took the training course in the spring of 1999 under the fabulous Jake Anderson. I just hope I inspire my trainees with KUCI Spirit as much as Jake inspired me. I was a UCI student at the time. My tenure at UCI lasted from the fall of 1997 to the spring of 2001.
D: I took the class in the fall of 1994. A lot of the ideas of how the class is now came from my class back then, taught by Seth Goldhammer.
T: I asked students for suggestions about what they'd like to see happen in the class. Do you have any ideas to add to theirs?
R: I'd love to see everybody pass. I'd also love for students to not bicker with me and complain about Federal laws and KUCI policy. Most of all, I'd love for everybody who takes my training course to go on to be quality DJs full of KUCI spirit. The biggest problems come from people who don't have KUCI spirit; people who are in radio solely for their own benefit and who don't give anything to the station. Everybody benefits from volunteering at KUCI. Unfortunately, some people try to leech as much from the station as they can without giving anything back to KUCI. As a non-profit public radio station, we can't afford any staff members who are completely selfish or just try to buy their way into a time slot. I like to remind trainees that if a person steals from a non-profit organization, they're in a pretty sad condition.
D: I don't know what their ideas were. I was supposed to hand out an anonymous questionnaire just before the test, but, um, a dog ate it.
T: Most enrolled students want to have music shows on KUCI. Do you do a show, and what is it like?
R: I currently have a freeform music show on Sunday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon. I play all sorts of music, because I get bored easily. My musical tastes include rock, electronic, jazz, soundtracks, classical, experimental and a little bit of country. Sometimes I bands perform live in-studio or I interview different people. For example, on March 23, the band Elseworth performed on my show. On April 6, I plan to interview two thirds of the band Future Bible Heroes.
D: It would take several paragraphs to answer what it's like doing my show. I never have to worry about what to do on a Saturday night!
T: Is there anything else you'd like to say about KUCI?
R: I love KUCI. I love everything that KUCI is about. I'm brimming with KUCI Spirit. I'm glad that we're broadcasting programs that don't answer to any corporate powers within one of the largest radio markets in the world (as well as globally online). KUCI truly fulfills the ideal of public radio in providing content that commercial broadcasters consistently avoid. Even most Southern California public radio stations are rather "corporate" in their selection of programming. Many college radio stations in this area will only broadcast jazz music because it's considered "safe." KUCI is the only radio station in this area that allows DJs to broadcast whatever they want (within the FCC's regulations). Sadly, trainees have asked me if saying something politically incorrect is against FCC rules or station policy. (It's perfectly legal, by the way.) People today have a great variety of media outlets, but most of the media broadcasts or publishes the same information and entertainment as every other broadcaster or publisher. Stations like KUCI are a powerful reminder of our precious freedom of speech rights. The more control that corporate America and usurpers of our nation's executive branch take from American citizens, the more important outlets such as public radio become. As American citizens, we cannot allow a greedy minority to buy our rights away from us. Sorry about the tirade. Can you tell I love public radio?
D: It's a privilege, not a right. When people forget that is when they lose their shows.
T: I love Rachel's answer about how she wanted to be identified:
R: Princess of the Realm of Training is always nice. But you can just call me "Rachel Crane, KUCI Training Director." Oh, and when referring to me, please don't call me "Crane." I hate that in articles. You can just refer to me as "Rachel," or "Miss Crane," if you must be formal. I hate it when writers refer to people only by their last name. Sorry, I'll stop this tirade now.
Tina "Dr. Romance" Tessina hosts "The Psyche Deli" every Thursday at 4:00 p.m.