Editor's Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of The Collegian.
Recently, I was able to get a hold of Mike Street, a DJ at 106.5 The Beat. As a college radio DJ myself, I wanted to know more about broadcasting and ask him about being in professional radio. Street is not only a DJ but he also serves as the brand manager for 106.5 The Beat, Hot 105.7 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Big 98.5 Country in Richmond, Virginia.
Street, ‘92, got his start in radio at the University of Richmond. He was a DJ at the campus station, WDCE 90.1FM. His first show was in February of 1989. It was Black History Month, and he was the first mix show on the air at WDCE. The show was called UR House Party because according to Street, “We just had that house party vibe.” He eventually made his way over to 106.5 The Beat and has been hosting The Mike Street Show from 2 p.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Ben Queen: Tell me about the Mike Street Show?
Mike Street: It’s more music than anything. It's just me trying to make it through the day hanging out with somebody, that's all the show is. It’s the equivalent of if you're scrambling to make it through the day and you FaceTime somebody. We're only going to talk about the stuff that we want to talk about. We're going to play some music and not look at the clock. I try not to harp on too many negative things. I do the necessary things, like during the pandemic you have to talk pandemic talk. ‘Keep your hands clean! Wear your mask!’ And if people got tired of me talking about that, I’d say, ‘Well I'm tired of people being sick.’ Also, if there are tragedies going on we will address those briefly and send everybody to the appropriate resources. Then, get back to what we were playing.
Queen: How do you decide what to play on your show?
Street: It's a mixture, but it’s mostly research-based. We have access to research of what people who listen to our station want to hear and don't want to hear, and we definitely stay closer to the ‘want to hear’ part. And then as new music comes out, we determine which of those songs to play by looking at the trends of what they like and then add a couple artists that we haven't played that we like. We have access to Shazam numbers to see if people are Shazaming this song a lot, or if people are streaming this song a lot.
A lot goes into trying to figure out which new songs to mix into what we do, but it's definitely scientific. A lot of people don’t get why we keep playing a certain song, but it’s because a lot of people like the song. Just because you don't doesn't mean that most people you know don't really like the song. It’s research-based and mixed with a gut feeling. It also helps if you’re from the area or you know people who are in the demographic that you're trying to reach.
Even I was skeptical at first, but it works. As a mix show DJ, you train yourself to play the hot new singles first because that’s what works in that environment. Radio is different, so you have to restrain yourself from only playing something that’s brand new. You can do it, but you have to be scientific about it.
Queen: What are some of the greatest accomplishments from your radio career?
Street: I've won a Marconi Award. The Marconi [Radio] Awards are awards given by the National Association of Broadcasters for excellence in radio. I want to say it was in 2019. I won for best Medium Market Personality of the Year. The second greatest is that we were just nominated this year for Urban Station of the Year. We were up against some pretty good stations, too — WALR in Atlanta, WKYS in D.C., WMBX in Florida and WWPR in New York.
Queen: And the most important question I ask everyone in music: What is your favorite album?
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Street: Oh gosh, of all time? Actually, I just did a podcast on perfect albums, but my favorite album is not a perfect album. I don't know man; I'd have to get back with you on my favorite album. I’m dealing with at least 40 years worth of personal music, and then you add in music that I went back and listened to from before I was born. It’s kind of hard to pick and it changes depending on my mood.
Later, Mike Street gave a list of some of his top albums (in no particular order):
-”Off the Wall” by Michael Jackson
-”Best of Parliament” by Parliament
-”Best of Take 6” by Take 6
-”It Takes a Nation of Millions” by Public Enemy
-”De La Soul is Dead” by De La Soul
-”Death Certificate” by Ice Cube
-”Ready to Die” by The Notorious B.I.G.
-”The Blueprint” by JAY-Z
Contact columnist Ben Queen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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