Senior Katie Sullivan can always be found at her second home, the WVUM studio, from 3 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays.
“Being a DJ helped me find balance within the hectic, sometimes crazy life of a college kid,” said Sullivan, a media management and English literature double major.
Sullivan lives life to her own beat with her radio show “DJ KSull.” Now in her last semester at UM, Sullivan continues her musical tradition that started in the fall of 2010. “KSull” provides students with a midweek pick-me-up show.
“It’s an hour to spend by myself and do what I love to do,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan provides her listeners with tunes old and new and an escape from the pressures of college. Her refreshing humor and original personality shine through during her Wednesday slot.
Sullivan is not one to be taken too seriously. During her show, she spends most of her time either laughing or making others laugh.
“It’s amazing to reach people through your voice and the music you choose to play,” she said.
Sullivan’s parents ignited her passion for music when she was growing up.
“My dad especially introduced me to great music when I was little and just made me want to become versed in music,” she said.
Although the Lido Beach, N.Y., native’s all-time favorite band is the Grateful Dead, she mostly plays electronic because that is the station’s format.
“I also like to play things that are not usually on the air,” Sullivan said. “I go to the music library in the radio station and find things from Ray Charles or Dr. John, or live recordings from bands from the 1960s, because it’s what I really like.”
On air, Sullivan does not use a script and says she never gets nervous. She said she relies on her musical instincts during her show.
“I get to the studio 10 or 15 minutes before my show and look at the guidelines for songs I should play,” she said. “From there, I adjust an order in my head so that each song transitions well into the next.”
Senior Matt Cacciaguida, host of Electric Kingdom Live, has been a WVUM DJ for two years. He said he has noticed Sullivan’s ability to develop a relationship with her listeners.
“Over the airwaves, Katie is laid-back and informs her audience about music she plays on-air as if she is discussing music with a close friend,” Cacciaguida said. “She cracks some corny jokes occasionally, but makes up for them with her passion and knowledge of music, which is evident to anyone that tunes into her shows.”
It is Sullivan’s ability to laugh at her own jokes that reflect her signature on-air personality.
“As long as you can laugh at your jokes, it doesn’t sound weird,” she said. “I try to have fun with it and hope my listeners do too.”
Her spontaneity makes her a breath of fresh air to her listeners.
“It brightens my day when someone texts me something like, ‘Wow, that last song you played was awesome,’” Sullivan said. “I’m really connecting with my listeners.”
Senior Claire Miller is one of Sullivan’s listeners and also her best friend.
“Katie is the epitome of a DJ,” Miller said. “One second she’ll be jamming to Janice Joplin, and the next she’ll throw on some Big Gigantic. She’s always mixing it up. I think a fourth of my iTunes Library has come from killer tunes I’ve heard DJ KSull spin.”
Sullivan said her three years as a DJ have greatly impacted her college experience.
“It definitely helped me find new music that I never would have listened to and opened my eyes to different music events and festivals,” she said. “I’ve become friends with people just because we have the same taste in music, and we’ve been able to go to a lot of concerts and festivals together.”
Being a DJ was instrumental in helping Sullivan land an internship last summer with CID Entertainment in New York City, a company that specializes in VIP packages for music festivals.
“Them seeing me involved in something on campus in the music industry definitely helped me get it,” she said.
When she graduates in May, Sullivan has plans to work at some music festivals for CID over the summer. From there she’ll do what she does best – “improvise.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
What: DJ KSull
When: 3-4 p.m. Wednesday
Where: 90.5 F.M. WVUM