The radio dial has always held a special place in my heart. I grew up in the San Fernando Valley listening to what we’d now call “nostalgic guilty pleasures” from Southern California’s commercial radio stations. It wasn’t until right after college, also here in LA at USC, that my music floodgates would open. One fateful evening, around 20 years ago, I went out to a bar and someone told me that I had to listen to KCRW, that it would change my life. They were absolutely right, and my ears have been glued to the station ever since.
KCRW became my grad school in music education. I would ask myself, "Where was this music my whole life?” There was no such thing as Shazam or cell phones with cameras, so I would carry a reporter's notebook and printouts of KCRW's playlist page in one hand, and in the other would be a 30-pound bin of used and new CDs from Amoeba. It would continue week after week, as I absorbed the rich history of the station's eclectic music programming from all over the world. I still get emotional thinking of the impressionable KCRW classics from that time like Joanna Newsom, Orchestra Baobab, Dustin O’Halloran, Inara George, and so many others thanks to all of the station's tastemakers (Nic Harcourt, Chris Douridas, Tom Schnabel, Anne Litt, Jason Bentley, Raul Campos, etc).
I then became a volunteer, assisting DJs on their shows anytime from 8pm - 6am in the morning. I felt like I was in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, so lucky to be in the home where all the magic happened. I would eventually become a full-time assistant to music librarian Eric J. Lawrence, helping to digitize the entire collection of over 60,000 CDs and vinyl.
KCRW has always been my north star and I’m still pinching myself each week that I get to live out my biggest dream – to play music on the most formative radio station. Here I can be me, I can be authentic, I can showcase music from my culture and be met with absolute support. KCRW is a platform we all need for connection and greater understanding of the world around us. If you agree, consider making a donation today to ensure KCRW is around for decades to come.
Nassir, KCRW DJ