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5 January 2019 Host Spotlight


by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett

Tell us about the origins of your show.
I was reading the “On The Radio” column in the Orange County Register one day and saw the words “Want to be a DJ?” With that I saw the opportunity to try something I always thought about, but never tried. After eight weeks of classes, interning on a couple of shows, and some direction from Beth the Program Director at the time, a new music specialty show was born.

You’ve been at KUCI for nearly ten years. What have been the changes in your show (or you) in that time?
It has been a road of growth and discovery. I basically didn’t know what I didn’t know about music. Growing up on commercial radio didn’t prepare me for the real world of music that exists. Commercial radio plays a very small fraction of the artists making amazing music. Being a KUCI DJ has allowed me to discover those artists, play those artists, and meet them. The concept of the show has always been the same. Find and play new awesome music. I’m just working with a larger palette than commercial radio that is constantly growing.

Did you know from the start that you’d have a fair amount of live band performances?
I did not. I always wanted to try and have artists come to KUCI and share their craft. I could never have imagined how successful the goal would be. I’ve been very fortunate and blessed to have made that a reality.

You’re Genre Assistant at KUCI. What does that entail?
I preview new indie, alternative rock music. Search for hidden gems. Then share them with the station with the hopes that other DJs play and share the music with their listeners.

How much does what you play come from the CDs that are sent to KUCI, and how much is from your own personal library?
Since my show is a new music program, everything I play comes from submissions to the station from record labels, promoters, and artists.

Speaking of which, how many CDs or downloads arrive at KUCI every week?
I personally get at least a dozen or two submitted directly. With easily another three to four times that to the station and other genre assistants at large. It is a large enterprise searching through all the submissions and trying to find what fits for KUCI and its DJs.

From what you can see, do most of them come from established record companies or do a fair amount come from indie publishers or the artists themselves?
I would say that the majority comes from established record companies. But it is small majority and it is shrinking. There are a lot of smaller labels that’s hungry and aggressive. They are finding fresh, new talent and trying to grow their reach. This challenge to the larger labels benefits KUCI and helps expose other voices deserving a chance to be heard.

What is something about you that would surprise listeners?
That I used to jump out of airplanes for a living as a member of the U.S. Army.

What do you listen to when you’re in your car?
All the new indie, alternative music that is given to me. Sprinkling in those favorites that has caught my ear over the years.

What’s in your fridge right now?
A tasty pasta bake and some leftover orange chicken with rice.

Favorite book of recent times?
I just finished reading Blacklist by Brad Thor. A nice, suspenseful thriller.

Favorite three bands of the moment?
Slothrust, Elohim, Doe Paoro, Car Seat Headrest, and Manchester Orchestra. I always had trouble trying to pare down my lists.

— January 5, 2019

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Barbara DeMarco-Barrett is host of Writers on Writing, Wednesdays at 9 a.m., and a contributor to USA Noir: Best of the Akashic Noir Series (Akashic, 2013). Watch the book trailer at penonfire.com.