These days, our musical tastes can be shaped by Spotify recommendations, TikTok algorithms, and whatever our friends suggest. In that sense, any new music you might come across won’t drastically deviate from the genres and music you already listen to.
To break this cycle and broaden your horizons, student radio — especially UNC’s WXYC 89.3FM — is a great place to start.
Opening Spotify often serves as a means of self-reflection on our music listening habits. When you first access the app, you have access to a drop-down feed of curated playlists, such as those based on songs you’ve recently listened to or album selections based on songs you’ve played. listened to. Algorithms dictate most of our listening behaviors, but they don’t have to.
Also, some of the music you love on Spotify or other platforms won’t always be there. In the past, artists like Joni Mitchell and Neil Young have taken their music down over fears Spotify is allowing far-right commentators and misinformation.
The lack of music may not even be about the artists themselves, but sometimes a problem of technical issues. This happened on March 8, when Spotify’s servers were temporarily unavailable. If Spotify was your only way to listen to music, you wouldn’t be able to hear your favorite tunes all afternoon.
What you could have done, however, was turn to student-run radio. UNC’s WXYC, accessible both at wxyc.org and their iPhone app, is constantly streaming and usually playing exciting new music that you might not otherwise have discovered.
WXYC DJ Sean Sabye said it was important to move away from traditional music streaming services.
“Before becoming a DJ, I think a lot of my more obscure music choices were based on what my music streaming platform called ‘dark,'” he said. “Now I think I’m much more open to music that doesn’t just find its appeal in how easy it is to listen to”
The idea of ’ease of listening’ is key – it’s perfectly reasonable to listen to relaxing and comforting music that you know and love, but listening to the radio is a fun way to diversify and support students who organize these playlists and these tracks.
While listening to WXYC, Sabye said that he often listens to completely different songs from the songs he’s heard before and quickly becomes his favorite song.
“Even the ability to create a unique musical experience like this with a song from my show makes every needle drop an important moment,” Sabye said.
Listening to WXYC can also be a kind of community exercise. The on-air DJ will take the opportunity to explain some of the background behind the music you’ve heard, while taking note of what’s happening in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Additionally, listeners can call in and make song requests.
“I feel like WXYC is the student organization on campus that has the most special relationship with the public in Orange County,” Sabye said. “Music is a very intimate thing to share, and so DJs kind of jump all the barriers of proximity with their listeners. Hearing audiences talk about the sounds they enjoy or the music they want to hear more of is always a positive thing.
Don’t get me wrong – the design and algorithms of online streaming services can be fun. But if you really want to mix your musical tastes and feel more connected to the UNC community, WXYC is a fantastic place to start.
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