You can do it in your car. You can do it in your dorm. You can do it on your phone or your laptop. You can do it at home. You can do it in a classroom if there’s no one else around. You probably shouldn’t do it in a church though. You can do it alone, with a partner, or even in a big group if that’s your thing. It’s everywhere and everyone’s doing it.
I’m talking, obviously, about listening to WTBU: BU’s student-run volunteer radio station. WTBU describes itself as “The Beat of Boston University” and for decades it’s worked tirelessly to keep that title true. Broadcasting for nearly 70 years, WTBU has been home to hundreds of dedicated student DJs who bring their own flair and expertise on sports, news, writing, podcasts, and, of course, music.
With 20 broadcasting hours to fill, WTBU’s lineup of radio shows run the gamut of music and entertainment. There are shows for music that’s popular now, music that was popular 10 years ago, and music that will be popular in 10 years.
WTBU has something for everyone, at all times of the day. Every Monday from 2 to 4 p.m. you can listen to “Man Eater,” a show playing only female artists and discussing women’s issues on campus and beyond. Want to hear your favorite TikTok tracks? “Unverified” airs every Sunday at noon and features all the viral songs of the week. One particular week featured the hosts and their friends arguing if a viral comment is a mark of internet fame. On “Office Hours,” you might find out that your biology professor is actually a huge shoegaze fan, apparently. This kind of insider info only happens on the airwaves.
Alongside its growing list of rotating weekly shows is WTBU’s tentpole programming. “BU in the Morning” is the station’s signature morning talk show featuring round table discussions and special guests. For music, “Left of the Dial” airs weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m. and plays local underground and indie hits for commuters and work-from-home music lovers alike. After that, comes “WTBU Sports” looking at all things Terriers Athletics such as highlights and upcoming games to cheer at.
WTBU is more than just radio. Its website features concert reviews and photos from the latest shows in Boston, interviews with local musicians, sports recaps, and breaking campus news. Miss your favorite show this week? WTBU keeps a detailed archive of all its programming on the site so you never have to miss a beat.
One aspect of WTBU that you won’t find on the airwaves is perhaps one of its most creative. Each month, the station publishes a zine called “The Beat.” Hand-drawn, hand-written, and hand-held, “The Beat” contains art, opinion pieces, concert reviews, and playlists each dedicated to the month it is released in (and always signed with a “<3”). October’s “Beat” was titled “Renaissance” and outlined why October is a time of rebirth, along with a playlist to refresh your morning walk. “The Beat” can be found in all the usual places one finds a zine: dark corners, public tables, and scattered on the floor near said tables. Between its limited distribution and delicious seasonal recipes, finding a copy lying around is always a joy. Be sure to keep your eye out at the start of each month.
The real allure of WTBU is in its description: It’s student-run. The radio shows are loose and conversational, like sitting at a table next to a close group of friends. You can feel (and hear) the joy and passion that the DJs have for their shows and the music played on them. The ups and downs of BU life intersect with some of the best new music out there right now in a genuinely good time over the airwaves.
Evan Kielmeyer, Staff Writer
Evan is a second-year graduate student in the Advertising Program here at BU. He received his bachelor’s degree in communication and history from Boston College (and is trying to keep that part quiet from his BU peers). In his free time, Evan enjoys skydiving, motorcycle racing, and lying on the internet. When he’s not doing that, he can be found listening to indie music, watching sci-fi movies, and waving to dogs he passes on the street.