Black Squirrel Radio presents Midnight DJ

Rabab Al-Sharif

When Matt Cola, a freshman electronic media productions major, found out he would be working the graveyard shift at Black Squirrel Radio, his first thought was: “Oh God, I need coffee now.”

Now that he has actually experienced the shift he said he doesn’t want to give it up because being a midnight DJ leads to some experiences that the DJs of earlier shows might miss out on.

On Sunday nights when most people are winding down, Cola and his co-host Amanda Marker are pumping up for their weekly show on Black Squirrel Radio.

When they arrive at a deserted Franklin Hall around 11:30 p.m., it resembles a scene in a horror movie more than the busy home of student media outlets.

They have to call someone from the previous show to let them in because all of the doors are already locked for the night.

The dark halls are empty except for a few students who are still trickling out of the newsroom and once the hosts of the show before them leave they are on their own.

“It’s actually kind of unnerving,” Cola said of the empty building.

Despite the eerie feeling of that surrounds the dark building, the atmosphere inside the studio is fun yet relaxed.

“It’s all about having fun,” Cola said. “Our listeners have fun if we’re having fun.”

Being the host of a midnight show is something Cola thinks everyone should experience.

Cola said one of the funniest experiences he’s ever had at Kent State happened on a Thursday night when he was leaving the studio after appearing as a guest host on another midnight radio show.

“I left prime time for inebriated Kent students to be walking back,” he said. “I followed this group and they were tipping over every single trash can along the way.”

Cola took the incident in stride and kindly picked up each can they had tipped over.

Another night a guest ordered him and his co-host a Rosie’s pizza during their own show.

These are incidents that it likely would not have occurred during some of the more “normal” time slots.

Late shows have a different dynamic because you have to work harder to get good ratings, he said.

“Honestly I think it should be a requirement that everyone DJ a midnight show just cause the dynamic of the show is so much different, and more difficult I think,” Cola said. “In order to keep listeners you have to keep people entertained or else they’re just going to turn it off and go to sleep.”

The midnight time slot was created in fall 2008 by General Manager Gabz Ciofani, a senior English major, who at the time was the program director.

“Everyone operates on different sleep schedules,” Ciofani said. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to offer our night owl DJs the ability to do shows when they are feeling most awake.”

Cola and his co-host Amanda Marker are just two of the Black Squirrel Radio DJs that host a midnight to 2 a.m. radio show.

Their show, AM in the PM, is the last show of the week. It airs first thing Monday morning, at a time most of us still consider to be night.

It includes nightly discussions, a wide variety of music and weekly segments to keep listeners entertained.

Cola started the show with two other hosts last semester when it was ranked in the top ten of most listened to shows of the semester.

A lot of potential viewers may be in bed before the show even starts, but they have listeners from all over.

Cola said the show has listeners from western United States, Canada and even one in Australia from time to time.

“The key is those multi-national listeners in different time zones,” he said. “I mean in Australia it’s noon.”

Steven Hamrick, a regular listener from Washington D.C., was the show’s first ever in-studio guest. Hamrick met Cola through a mutual friend in high school.

He started listening to the show when Cola sent him a request on Facebook and has been listening ever since.

Hamrick said he likes listening to the show because of the interesting topics brought up and because it helps him chill out.

“It gives me a way to relax before I go to bed,” he said. “It’s very good at doing that.”

Hamrick called in one night, and before he knew it he was invited to be the show’s first in-studio guest, an offer he was excited to take.

Like Hamrick, the AM in the PM fans are very active. They make requests and suggestions, Cola said, and the show is catered to fit what they want.

“Our show is about the fans,” he said. “The fans are the driving force of my show.”

Contact College of Communication and Information reporter Rabab Al-Sharif at [email protected].