Behind the Microphone with KCSB DJ Megan Neikirk

KCSB DJ Megan Neikirk airs a Monday afternoon show called "Shut Up & Listen." (Gwendolyn Wu / Executive Content Editor)

Gwendolyn Wu
Executive Content Editor

A radio DJ may evoke images of a charismatic, chatty guy hyping overplayed Top 40 songs and making not-so-funny jokes between songs. Quite the contrary, one of KCSB-FM 91.9’s DJs is actually a keen, animated, and intelligent girl whose eye makeup game probably puts yours to shame.

Second year feminist studies major Megan Neikirk is the voice behind “Shut Up & Listen,” a Monday afternoon show on the University of California, Santa Barbara’s radio station that bridges music and social issues. Each of Neikirk’s shows are themed differently according to pop culture mainstays, such as “Batman: The Animated Series.”

Neikirk admired KCSB from afar her first year, she said, and finally made it to a ‘50s-themed LGBTQ prom called “No Body Holy” last February that finally inspired her to go to a KCSB orientation.

“I remember that night in Starbucks, I was typing up my proposal [for the show] and I was so heated up about it and so passionate,” the Chino Hills native said. “This was something I really wanted to do. It was so cool, my voice could be heard. You don’t realize it until you’re already in it, and you’re like, ‘dude, this is awesome.’”

A self-proclaimed “comic book nerd” and avid Gilmore Girls fan (she’s done four GG-themed shows so far), Neikirk weaves questions about public affairs and incorporates cultural arts into her music curation. DJing isn’t as easy as it seems, she said, because it’s also about carefully curating content that’s expletive-free and flows with the eclectic style of the show.

Although music is the main focus of the production, Neikirk also focuses on teaching her listeners about some of the social issues happening in the world. She researches people who connects the dots between pop culture and political climate, and hopes to bring those voices to on-air interviews some day.

“As a person in the media, given this time slot where you’re allowed to be on the airwaves, and be an advocate for independent media to say something, you have this two-hour period where your voice can be heard by people you don’t even know,” Neikirk said. “Music shows are really cool, but it’s also really important to consider using that time to say something more because there are a lot of things going on that just need to be talked about.

Neikirk’s timeslot is a rare occurrence in the new-student-DJ world. Most student DJs at KCSB begin with the KJUC training program, and begin playing a once-weekly show between the hours of 2 – 6 a.m. Although a number of reasons kept her going when she DJ’d from 2 – 4 a.m. over the summer, one graveyard shift caller kicked off her KCSB shift with a compliment.

“You still get callers and people still listen. There’s this guy everyone calls ‘Dave from the Grave,’ and he’s known for listening really late at night,” Neikirk said. “I remember on my very first show, it was 3 a.m. and he called me and said, ‘you’re doing a great job!’ I was like ‘whoa, this is so cool — someone’s actually listening.”

And for those actually still listening, Neikirk thinks that radio on a college campus is a platform for student voices to be amplified about the things they’re passionate about. It’s a slice of life about anger, concerns, and the news of the day for those who want to turn up the radio dial.

“For example, with protests and rallies, adults don’t really take us seriously because we’re college students, we party, we drink,” Neikirk said. “I guess we do. But come on, we’re smart, in college, and getting a higher education.

Catch “Shut Up & Listen” on KCSB – FM 91.9 on Mondays from 1 – 3 p.m. Gwendolyn Wu is an occasional contributor to KCSB News.