He walked into the studio on a weekday evening with a blue duffel bag packed with CDs strapped to his shoulder and an extra-large Big Gulp in hand.
University of Richmond Police Department Officer David Selander, 59, arrived with enough time to set up for his midnight show held every other Wednesday on WDCE 90.1 FM, the UR’s radio station.
Selander has been a UR police officer for seven years and started his classic rock show “Far Side of Blue” in 2017. Fifty-four shows later, Selander still opens with the “James Bond Theme” by John Barry and Monty Norman.
Before beginning his show on a Wednesday, Feb. 2, Selander had finished the first four hours of his 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. shift and went on a two-hour break. He wrapped up a few fire drills at Wood, Mitchell-Freeman and Jeter halls before driving his URPD pickup truck to the radio station located in the basement of North Court.
Selander spends midnight to 2 a.m. scavenging his bag for the perfect CD and choosing songs from the extensive online selection but still pays attention to his radio in case he must break away from the show.
“All of these songs have memories for me,” Selander, said. “It’s a way for me to look back to when I was 17 years old and listening to this for the first time. One of the reasons I do it is it reminds me of where I’ve been, who I am and how I got here.”
In addition to his love for playing his favorite rock tunes, Selander’s admiration for the UR community drove him to start his own show.
“They want the officers to find a way to connect to the students,” Selander said. He thought a radio show would be perfect and pitched the idea to police Chief David McCoy.
After shadowing hosts on three occasions and taking extensive handwritten notes, he had his first solo show on Sept. 6, 2017.
“It was kind of a panic,” Selander said about his first time on-air. “There would be gaps and I would feel terrible. There were a couple of failures, but as a whole, I got two hours of music in and I was thrilled.”
Although Selander’s show took a hiatus at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, he didn’t forget the skills he had learned. He resembles a professional DJ as he works the dials and sliders on the soundboard.
Selander admitted there were some nights he didn't have the energy to be a part-time DJ.
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“You just have to pick yourself up by the bootstraps and get it done,” he said. “It may not necessarily be that anybody’s listening, but just in case.”
Before the pandemic, listeners of a show preceding “Far Side of Blue” would stick around to hear Selander’s carefully selected songs. Audience members tended to include first-year residents of Marsh, Wood and Moore halls.
“This year, is anybody paying attention to it?” Selander asked himself. “I don’t know.”
Regardless, “Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young faded and Selander started to play “Oh, Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison.
Even if many students weren’t tuning into Selander’s show, some of his fellow URPD officers would listen while on the job.
Former Officer Brian Monahan and Sgt. Craig Buchbinder used to call in requests during Selander’s show.
“We used to tag-team him and say, ‘Hey, I’d like to make a request,’ just to keep him busy,” Buchbinder recalled. “We’d try and find the most obscure songs.”
Besides requests, Buchbinder would ask Selander to notify students about campus news and events.
On Feb. 2, Buchbinder put on Selander’s show on his way from the station to The Cellar. Once he got back to the station at the end of his shift, he tuned in yet again.
“I didn’t get a chance to do my request, so he kind of yelled at me for that,” Buchbinder said.
Buchbinder didn’t get a chance to call that day/night, but Selander still played some songs he thought his coworkers would like.
“The dispatcher, Samantha, over at police headquarters likes AC/DC and Def Leppard,” Selander said. “Those are her favorite.”
Two songs later, he played “Back in Black” by AC/DC in case she was listening. Unfortunately, Communications Officer Samantha Engels wasn’t listening that night but said she thinks the show is “tons of fun” when she does get the chance to tune in.
Sgt. Renee Walcott can’t listen to the show because of her schedule but said Selander was fun to talk with. “He’s very smart, so I bet him talking about stuff is interesting.”
No matter how big his audience is, Selander is still dedicated to connecting to the campus community through his radio show.
At the end of every show, he delivers the same message to his listeners: “I hope you had a good evening, I hope you have a good morning and good riddance,” Selander said as he turned up “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” by Green Day.
Contact contributor Ale Egocheaga firstname.lastname@example.org.
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