If you’ve tuned in to local radio station Blu 102.9 over the past 10 months or so, you may have been surprised at the musical changes. During this period, local DJs Maynard Del Mar and Yon Hudson have been working closely with Blu Operations Director Ira Gordon to switch formats to a more modern station, with a special emphasis on dance music and local talent.
“What you had was this station playing world beat and down-tempo jazz and whatever,” Del Mar tells SFR, “and that was fine in 1998, but things have decayed a little and a change was needed.”
Del Mar describes the station’s diversification as “a way of broadcasting music like an iPod on shuffle.”
Were you to tune to
right now, you’d probably hear top 40 songs from the likes of Kanye West or RZA. Del Mar and Hudson will begin incorporating mixes from less-mainstream acts such as Chromeo or Metric.
Del Mar and Hudson use the classic DJ technique of drawing in listeners with music they know and love while sneakily adding new music. Society has a propensity to fear the unknown. A platform to showcase these lesser-known acts and genres is a chance to gradually expand the public’s musical horizons.
Ultimately, the station will correlate playlists with the time of day. For example: energetic but low-key tunes in the morning, banging club anthems by night, and a wind down after the bars are closed.
For now, Del Mar and Hudson, with the programming help of local DJ Dynamite Sol, are the station’s sole DJs.
“Between us three, our styles can overlap a little, but are ultimately different enough to make for a huge cross-section of music from dancey hip-hop to indie-dance remixes and more,” Del Mar says.
Programming will expand beyond the three DJs, with weekly time slots available for local and national DJs to broadcast what they’re listening to and even perform live on air. Blu 102 should be open to programming submissions sometime after March, when the station is slated for an official relaunch.
Dance music fans, however, don’t have to wait that long to get a taste of the station’s DJ programming. In February the station will hold its second Blu Crawl. The event, which had its inaugural run this fall, is a bar crawl through downtown Santa Fe featuring DJs at each club.
In addition to format changes, which are common among radio stations, there are concrete plans in the works as well. Hutton Broadcasting is building a permanent studio space for the relaunched station, which will be in the same Camino Entrada building as the rest of the stations, but will be fitted to accommodate DJs.
“It’s a little tricky,” Del Mar tells SFR, “as there are a lot of things to consider. Just having a DJ’s equipment takes up enough space as it is.”
Those involved are the first to admit that the switch is a learning process. But given Gordon’s radio experience and the multi-genre knowledge of the DJs, Blu 102 already has a lot going for it, not the least of which is its private ownership.
“Since Hutton Broadcasting is privately owned, we won’t have to bow to corporate interests or Clear Channel or whatever,” Del Mar says.
He believes the time is ripe for such a station.
“Dance music is more accepted now than it was, say, 10 years ago when everyone pictured dance music fans as nothing more than a bunch of drug-addled ravers,” Del Mar says. “The borders between genres fade more every day, and Blu will have something for everyone.”
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