Meet the WRFL DJs: Tyler Marie

Photo: tylerc.com

If you’re wondering what my show Signal Boost on WRFL is all about, this is the place to be. I did a Q&A for WRFL’s “Meet the DJs” series, and in it, you can learn everything you’d want to know about me and my show.

“Meet the DJs” Q&A

WRFL would like you to meet DJ Tyler Marie. You can tune in to her show Signal Boost on late Friday nights (early Saturday mornings) from 2-5am eastern time.

Photo: Art by ElektraRonin
Art by ElektraRonin

How long have you been a WRFL DJ?

I started training to be a DJ last September, I did a pilot of Signal Boost and started taking fills in November, and now I’ve been on the weekly schedule since January.

Have you been a DJ anywhere else before?

Not really! WRFL is the first place where I’m a DJ in the traditional sense, curating and playing music on an FM station. I have done lots of audio production and have hosted informal podcasts with friends, though. I also did an internship at a radio reading service that serves the blind and visually impaired community, and being an on-air host and board operator there helped me realize that I love doing radio.

Do you have any frequent guests or co-hosts? What’s your dynamic like?

Most of the time I’m by myself in the studio—I like just talking into the airwaves and being conversational with our listeners. But I’ve had a co-host a few times. Allison co-hosted with me once in the fall when I took over her show Weapons of Choice, and it was fun to improvise with her. A friend of mine co-hosted with me when I guest-hosted Claire’s The Witching Hour over winter break, and we traded stories about the songs on our playlist. This semester my show is on after THE HEAVYSET with DJ Cas9, and they joined me a few times at the top of my show. That was awesome—we both love electronic music so it was a nice crossover, and we also had the opportunity to talk about WRFL itself and give our late night listeners a little bit of an inside look at the station.

Why did you join WRFL?

Like all of us here, I’ve been a music obsessive my whole life, and I’ve always loved putting together playlists and sharing them. I also grew up listening to the radio and have always had an appreciation for the medium. But in addition to being a really good and unique radio station, WRFL is an amazing local community. I decided to get involved in part because I would listen to DJs on WRFL share their views and passions, and I could tell that these are the type of people I want to be around. If you’re a little (or all the way) to the left as a person, it can be easy to feel lost among normies on this massive campus. Our local music director Anna once told me that WRFL is “the place for people who don’t have a place.” I felt that and it stuck with me. I like the sense of belonging WRFL gives to people like me.

What do you do/play on your show?

Signal Boost is pretty intentional about its purpose, which is to amplify women, non-binary, and queer artists. It’s a general format show, which means that in addition to my own playlists, I also get to search through the albums in WRFL’s current rotation each week and highlight artists that are from these communities and identities. The format of my show also allows me to move between multiple genres, so during the course of a typical show I’ll start with high-energy electronic and electropop, then shift into indie pop and rock, and then cool down with some R&B and soul to end the night.

Why do you play what you do on your show? What sparked that interest?

Even with all the progress we’ve made in some respects, our society has been severely backsliding in others, so I feel like now more than ever we need platforms specifically for marginalized voices. In addition to the societal reasons, I just tend to connect more on a personal level with female and queer artists most of the time. I’m also trans and I’ve learned a lot about who I am since I officially started my transition a couple of years ago, so I felt like now is the time for me to host Signal Boost because I can finally just be myself and do this authentically.

Who are some of your favorite musical artists?

Tegan and Sara are my big sisters. I’ve learned and discovered so much from them and they are my eternal inspiration. Growing up, some of my favorites over the years were No Doubt, Fiona Apple, Alicia Keys, Amy Winehouse, and Lady Gaga. I love Janelle Monáe, CHVRCHES, Marina and the Diamonds, LIGHTS, Jorja Smith, Lana Del Rey, and lately I’ve been super into Rina Sawayama, Caroline Polachek, Snoh Aalegra, QUIN, mxmtoon, Kilo Kish, Phoebe Bridgers, Mahalia, Weyes Blood, and (many) more.

What’s your process for planning your show?

I’ll create a new playlist each week and add songs to it as I draw inspiration from other shows, current events, new releases, and music in my own library. I’ll also browse through WRFL’s playboxes for any new additions and read the reviews. By the time Friday night comes around and it’s almost time for my show, I like to have a thoughtful playlist put together that flows well through different genres and themes.

What do you do outside of WRFL?

I refer to myself as a creative-ish techie. I design and develop apps and websites, and I can also be found at any given time doing some sort of audio production, photo editing, or graphic design. I’ve also been an erratic graduate student. In my free time, I love going to concerts and live events, which is unfortunate because right now I have more free time than ever and all events have been cancelled. (We can only hope those things come back and better than ever after we make it out the other side of this pandemic. Stay safe, everyone.)

Do you have a favorite memory of something that happened at WRFL, either during your show or at a WRFL event?

The 32nd birthday bash was the first big WRFL event I’ve been to since becoming a DJ, and it was a blast. But my favorite memory so far is probably my very first day at WRFL last September when I came to DisOrientation. I was kind of nervous about joining the station, but at the end of the event, I met our general manager Allison and we ended up talking all afternoon about pretty much everything in the world. Her energy and enthusiasm were off the charts, and her inclusivity and kindness made me feel so good about my decision to push through whatever anxiety I had and come to DisOrientation that day. I went on to train with her during her show in the fall, and her encouragement and total boss-ass chillness is a big part of the reason I’m here today.

What other WRFL shows/DJs do you like listening to? Why?

A bunch of them. In addition to Weapons of Choice (which I hope will return this fall!), I love The Witching Hour, Human Music, THE HEAVYSET, Serious Moonlite, Squids Will Be Squids, and next jen. I feel like each of them cover a different portion of the music I love, and in some ways Signal Boost is made out of pieces of all of those shows. There are also my new late night neighbors Lipstick Is Optional, Canned Sardines, and Pulp. And last year I would routinely chill out with Naminex and Real Vampire Hours on late Friday nights. Finally, I want to shout out indrani gets next to you, which is ending this semester, because Indrani has brought something wonderful (radical vulnerability, to use her phrase) and special to WRFL’s audience with her show and I’m really going to miss it.

Can you share a story of an interaction with a listener of your show?

Before my show each week, I’ll usually go on Instagram and add something to my story about the playlist I’ve put together. Back in December, an artist based in Los Angeles, NISHA, saw my story and reached out to me to say thanks for playing her music. She took a real interest in what we’re doing here at WRFL and started listening to Signal Boost. I got to know her fairly well as a result, and I was even able to do a long-form interview with her on my show in February. I think it goes to show that WRFL’s reach extends far beyond what you might think and that we mean something to people in ways you wouldn’t even expect. Being able to interview artists I love is an incredible honor, and I’m grateful that WRFL provides me with a platform where I can do things like this.

What do you want listeners to take away from your show?

I want people to discover and appreciate artists on my show that they might have otherwise overlooked, and I want to challenge their expectations of what a “general format” show can offer in terms of genres and styles. My show is kind of audacious in this way, it’s explicitly queer, and I like it to be a little subversive. That said, I also want my show to be fun and for listeners to feel good when they listen to it. We’re all really going through it right now, and when you make it to the end of another week and are up late, I want Signal Boost to be there for you.

What do you hope for the future of your show?

I love being part of the storied history of WRFL DJs who started out at 2-5am, but I certainly hope to complete this rite of passage and graduate to a midnight or evening time slot next semester. I hope to be able to do more artist interviews in the future too. And over time, I hope people come to know and love my show. Most of all right now though, I hope for us to make it through these bizarre times and be back doing live shows in our dearly missed station soon.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

WRFL is a really special place. We’ve survived against all odds for over 32 years now, and I trust that we’ll survive this unprecedented situation right now too. Radio stations like ours matter not just to us as students and staff, but to our listeners and communities and to music and the arts and culture as a whole. It’s important that we continue to have a place, and I’m glad to be here contributing what I can as part of our RFL family and helping us thrive into the future. Please wash your hands.

Signal Boost on WRFL with Tyler Marie airs live weekly. Recent archives and streaming playlists are also available. This article was originally published at wrfl.fm.

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