Madeline Taylor, CiTR’s programming manager, has been involved in student radio for fiveish years now, three of which have been here at CiTR. When I sat down to talk to her, I could tell she knows a lot about radio. As programming manager, she has to know about everything that’s going on air. But she wasn’t always the radio expert that she is now. She was new to it once, too.

“There are so many people that you meet really quickly. A lot of them are older than you or have a lot more experience. You might not know who to go to with certain questions or you might not feel comfortable asking any questions,” expresses Madeline. “It feels like you should know things, even though there’s no reason why you would know how to be a radio producer.”

That’s where 120 BPM comes in. 120 BPM is a two-hour block of airtime that runs every week from Monday to Thursday, between 3-5pm at CiTR. It’s a block of time that’s open to any new programmers who want to get involved. Madeline pushed 120 BPM forward in an effort to get more new programmers started in a comfortable, low pressure environment. “BPM” stands for “Beginners Playing Music,” a fitting name for a space to try something new, play some good tunes and be okay with messing up and moving on.


Illustration by Hayley Schmidt for Discorder Magazine

You don’t have to be a DJ, have the perfect radio voice or feel the pressure of pitching a show idea. Maybe you’ve never even thought about doing radio before or aren’t sure where to start with it, but this is a space to do just that — to start. Alec Christensen, student executive of programming at CiTR and host of the radio show FLASHBACK, is also involved in running 120 BPM. To Alec, the two-hour block has the potential to be a kind of daily music show, run by the station as a whole rather than any individual programmer. He hopes that by mid January of 2019, there will be new programmers involved in 120 BPM everyday during its airtime. “The beauty of it, is that you’re going to have people here, like me and Madeline. It’s not like you’re doing your own show where you’re thrown into it,” Alec remarks. “there’s more of a support system.”

Trying new things can be scary. Trying new things on air can be even scarier. As someone pretty new to CiTR and still learning the ropes of running a show I get it. I’m still not sure exactly how to turn things on and I’m always a little sweaty before every show. It took me a while to even get to the point of stepping into the station. I’d walk by CiTR, trying to force myself to sign up for training, but I’d get nervous every time. It can be intimidating and challenging in ways that make you feel vulnerable, but even meeting one person can make it that much easier. It can feel like everyone knows each other already and understands how to do everything, but really, we all gotta start somewhere.

So, if you’ve been waiting for a sign, this is it. 120 BPM is a program that invites you to try something new. Even though maybe it’ll be a little terrifying, there are people who’ve got your back. “We’re here to be here, to teach people and give people space to make mistakes, so the intention with this is to give people even a slightly easier way of getting involved” shares Madeline, “we’re trying to make it as low barrier as possible […] we’re trying to figure out ways to get people engaged in a way that works for them.”

Although Madeline and Alec both have some experience under their belts, they both know what it’s like to be new to radio. Honestly, I thought that everyone would be similar at CiTR and I was afraid I wouldn’t fit into it. I’ve realized, though, that everyone is so different and that’s what actually makes it all the more welcoming.