About a year ago, I sat down with legendary (yeah, legendary) Santa Fe DJ Maynard Del Mar to discuss changes to radio station KLBU 102.9 FM [A Sharp, May 1, 2011: “Radioactivity”]. Del Mar, along with fellow Santa Fe deck-master Yon Hudson, were working with Hutton Broadcasting’s operations director Ira Gordon to revitalize the station with a format change from smooth jazz and world music to hip-hop, dubstep, indie-pop and beyond.
Not counting Steve Terrell’s and Sam Atakra’s shows on KSFR, however, I don’t often listen to the radio, so once my column went to print, I went back to my world of mid-’90s Boston hardcore.
But then I ran into Sol Bentley, aka DJ Dynamite Sol, the other night at Allsup’s and learned that he has since taken over the station, known as Blu102. “Between DJ work, being an MC with The Unknown, engineering, producing and more, I’d done everything I could think to do in music except for radio work,” Sol says. “So when Ira [Gordon] called me up, I jumped at the opportunity.”
Here we have a man with music tastes so varied that tuning to Blu102 now means you’ll hear anything from Chromeo and Deee-Lite to older Fugees, Justice, Saint Etienne and more. “I don’t care if it’s polka, man…if the music grooves, I’m into it,” Sol says.
Certainly Blu102 is bent on big-time modern hits, but it is more eclectic than just about any other radio station out there, local or otherwise.
A lot of the credit goes to the diverse lineup of DJs working for the new station. Sol and Hudson host a variety of shows and timeslots through the week (most notably Sol’s live on-air improvisations), and local music nerds like Brian Hardgroove, Gabe Gomez and Mr. Kali hop on the airwaves to lend a hand with the station’s newfound commitment to musical diversity.
“Our main goal is to shake it up and get interactive, and we’re making that progress,” Bentley says. “Scott [Hutton] has been amazing in terms of support and pretty much letting us know that he believes in what we’re doing, and he’s willing to give us the time and resources to make it happen.”
Making it happen also means leaving room for local artists—send in your tracks, y’all—so that’ll hopefully quiet a few whiners around town.
Since my interview with Sol, I’ve been bumping Blu102 pretty much constantly. I can’t honestly say that every song is a gem, but I have found a lot to like. I’m one of the biggest culprits of dismissing radio as little more than a sales tool, but Santa Fe has a stable of locally owned radio stations employed by hardworking local musicians who want nothing more than to make the medium cool again. Sol Bentley and Blu102 have shown that broadcasting isn’t just for soulless monsters, and it turns out decent music does get airplay if you just know where to listen.
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