The radio dial has always held a special place in my heart. I grew up in the San Fernando Valley listening to what today we would call the “nostalgic guilty pleasures” of Southern California commercial radio stations. It wasn’t until right after college, also here in Los Angeles at USC, that the floodgates for my music opened up. One fateful night some 20 years ago, I went out to a bar and someone told me I had to listen to KCRW, that it was going to change my life. They were absolutely right, and my ears have stuck with the station ever since.
KCRW has become my top school in music education. I wondered, “Where has this music been all my life?” There were no Shazams or cellphones with cameras, so I carried a reporter’s notebook and printouts of KCRW’s playlist page in one hand, and in the other was a bin of 30 books of used and new CDs from Amoeba. would continue week after week, as I absorbed the station’s rich history of eclectic music programming from around the world. I still think fondly of the impressionable KCRW classics of that era like Joanna Newsom, Orchestra Baobab, Dustin O’Halloran, Inara George, and so many more thanks to all the trendsetters at the station (Nic Harcourt, Chris Douridas, Tom Schnabel, Anne Litt, Jason Bentley, Raúl Campos, etc.).
I then became a volunteer, assisting the DJs on their shows anytime from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. I felt like I was in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, so lucky to be in the house where all the magic happened. I would eventually become a full-time assistant to music librarian Eric J. Lawrence, helping digitize the entire collection of over 60,000 CDs and vinyls.
KCRW has always been my North Star and I still pinch myself every week to fulfill my biggest dream – playing music on the most formative radio station. Here I can be myself, I can be authentic, I can present the music of my culture and be welcomed with absolute support. KCRW is a platform we all need to connect and better understand the world around us. If you agree, consider making a donation today to ensure KCRW is here for decades to come.
Nassir, DJ KCRW