MD of the Month:
WRSU-FM Rutgers Radio
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How did WRSU get started and how did you first hear about it?
WRSU-AM went on the air on April 26, 1948 as an AM carrier current station. Initially, WRSU could only be projected to the dorms or very close to the College Avenue and Douglass campuses. Our first permanent studios were located at 12 College Avenue in a building that currently serves as the Bildner Center on Jewish Life. WRSU finally moved to its current facilities in 1971 at 126 College Avenue when the Rutgers Student Center was completed. We’ve been there ever since! I first heard of WRSU the moment I declared myself as a student. Being a Radio DJ was something I always dreamed of doing, so I naturally contacted Dante Intindola, the Chief Announcer at the time, inquiring about training in the fall. The rest is history!
How long have you been at WRSU? What is your history there?
I’ve been at WRSU since my first week at Rutgers. I started as a general music member, but I figured out you could get on air, no training, if you joined the entertainment department. So, soon after joining I became a talking head on our Inside Edition type program, “RU Entertained.” By the spring of my freshman year, I had my show “The Off Beat with Bennett Rosner” on air. After an unsuccessful bid to become Chief Announcer, I applied for Assistant MD which eventually lead to my election as MD in 2019! And here I stand before you today, unchanged in that year gone by with no coup on the horizon either, thankfully.
What sorts of things do you do as music director to encourage DJs to play the new music you are sent by labels and promoters?
Every week, I make a Top 30 and Top adds playlist for Spotify. We incorporate these two playlists into our programming system as hotkeys so DJs can easily see what music is charting and what music has been deemed “the best of the week.” I also set up our digital system so that DJs are always presented with the most recent adds first and the oldest adds last. My weekly emails, meanwhile, highlight the best new albums in yellow and encourage DJs to listen to the music via links and tongue-in-cheek descriptions from other music members.
Is there any music slated for release coming up this year that you are most excited about?
I’m super hyped for the new The 1975 album, The Avalanche’s third record, and whatever the hell is going on with Gorillaz’s new project. Every single released from these 3 have been awesome so far. I’m also cautiously optimistic for the new Weezer record, as all fans of the band should be.
Do you have a favorite artist or album you never get tired of listening to?
Jack Johnson’s “On and On” was never one for the critics when it released in 2003, but I love that album to death. It’s my nighttime driving soundtrack through thick and thin. I only listen to the CD version in my car though, never on Spotify. Otherwise, Ben Folds Five and Kanye West are my “comfort food” artists.
Which artist/band has put on the best show you’ve ever seen live?
I would rate this in tiers. Relative to age: Billy Joel. Relative to musical equipment: Ben Folds. Relative to the pit: Streetlight Manifesto. Relative to overall fun: Ben Kweller.
Who is an artist or band totally outside the realm of the music you play on WRSU that people might be surprised to know you love?
More of a genre thing, I really like radio pop music and the never-ending battle for the Hot 100. It has a rich history full of twists, lies, and corruption, a shifting storyline you can follow, teams to join in support of one artist vs another, and its fun to mindlessly listen to. In terms of singles I enjoy on the chart right now, “Say So,” “Circles,” “Don’t Start Now,” “Blinding Lights,” “Adore You,” “Death Bed,” “RITMO,” “The Box,” just to name a few. This year has been a great one for pop music already and I’m super excited to see where it goes post Covid-19, because I’m expecting an awesome shift in tone and texture.
What is your best childhood memory?
From the summer going into 3rd grade to the summer going into 6th grade, I went to a Journeys End Farm Camp in Pennsylvania for 3 weeks in July. Those 3 weeks were the highlight of every one of those years. We had chores to take care of every morning and night that were fairly hands off from the counselors (like milking cows, feeding goats, attending to the chickens), had beautiful meditation meetings for an hour right after farm based breakfasts, the choice of a range of activities that utilized the hundreds of acres of farmland every day, and so much more. Every kid there was a part of a working farm/commune and it was bliss.
What event in your life would you say has shaped you the most as a person?
These last 3 years of college have really cemented who I am today, cliché as it seems. I think I use to approach things from a negative perspective, always adding caveats to why I should or shouldn’t like something. All the people I’ve met at college have helped me stop being overly particular and to embrace positive aspects over everything else. Learning how to validate others’ feelings and emotions has also been something I’ve tried to work on, this last year in particular. My ego often left me unable to interpret situations from viewpoints other than my own in the past. At Rutgers, I’ve grown from this because of my involvement as a leader at WRSU, my role as a peer mentor and student ambassador for the honors program, and relationships that have taught me that there is a world outside of my own wants and ambitions.
If you could choose any time period in the past to travel back to and visit, what would it be and why?
I don’t know why, but I love the years 2004 and 2005. No real reason. I know Hot Fuss and Shrek 2 came out in 2004, but otherwise, I just think those two years are aesthetically appealing numbers. Not to mention, the iPod classic was the go-to media device (my favorite piece of music hardware ever), streaming wasn’t a thing to take away from radio listenership, but computers still existed to distract us from the harsh reality of life, and ringtone sales from Jamster were seen as a viable music tracking metric. Yeah, plop me down in those two years then jet me back to 2020 (post Covid-19 preferably) the instant 2006 hits.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in town that you always made sure to take guests/visitors to when we were all allowed to still eat safely in restaurants?
Yuki Hana! Best sushi in Northern New Jersey, by far, full stop, bar none.
Dog or Cat? Cat. I’ve got 2!
Morning Person or Night Owl? I can do both. Morning person at home, night owl at college.
City or Country? NYC or bust. Otherwise, I appreciate some good rural living.
Beach or Mountains? Beach, no doubt
Watch TV or Read A Book? Usually I’ll err on the side of TV, but I’m really trying to get through the Lord of the Rings books right now (and not doing so great on that).
Sunny or Rainy? Sunny. The sun’s out, I’m outside.
Dine or Delivery? Dine in. I’m all about the atmosphere.
Pants or Shorts? Pants because I’ve got very skinny legs
Warm or Cold drinks? If you drink warm water because it “digests easier,” don’t talk to me. Cold all the way
Given all of our time now spent at home, do you have any current favorite shows you’re enjoying/binging? How about a movie (new or old) that you’ve watched recently that you loved?
I took exactly one month on the dot to watch all of Breaking Bad. Best show I’ve ever seen and well worth the time commitment. What We Do in the Shadows is what I’m currently binging. It’s 2nd season is currently airing, so my whole family is getting into it and catching up so we can watch every week. As for movies, I’ve really enjoyed Django Unchained, The Lobster, Tremors, Snowpiercer, and Love and Mercy this past month. All are available to stream, so you can check them out next time you need a good movie to watch!
Finally, and most importantly… where is the first place you want to go again that is currently closed due to the pandemic?
I’m hitting the bars, baby! Just turned 21 in March and never got to go. I’ll be fulfilling my childhood dream of ordering a Guinness on tap. After that peak, it’s all downhill in life.