People still dream of being DJs, even though there are technically no longer any discs to jockey.
WUTC-FM (88.1), the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga campus radio station and Chattanooga's NPR affiliate, has a popular promotion called "DJ for an Hour."
For a $288 donation, $24 a month for a year, WUTC provides an hour of air time to amateur DJs. The guest radio hosts pick a playlist and provide DJ-style commentary between songs.
The promotion has been on pause for months because of COVID-19, but station officials say they hope to revive the DJ for an Hour shows early next year.
Haley Solomon, a producer and radio host at WUTC, said that for a lot of listeners the promotion is a bucket list item.
"The average person usually doesn't get the opportunity to sit at a mic in a state-of-the-art studio to talk about the music that has shaped their lives," Solomon said.
"I think for most people this is such a big moment. They spend months crafting a playlist and coming up with a theme," she said.
Solomon said most of the guest DJs bring in their favorite recordings on a thumb drive. Then they get to watch as she professionally edits the pre-recorded program.
People who have been 60-minute DJs at WUTC often have put a lot of thought into how to personalize their show, Solomon said.
One guest DJ filled his program with '80s music classics and called his show "House Party Classics for '80s Suburban Kids." The airing of the program on WUTC was timed to coincide with his high school reunion, Solomon said.
Another listener, in his 30s, played music that he had listened to in the car with his young daughters. And a woman in her 30s created a playlist only from artists that she has seen live in concert.
Bryan Shannon, former brand director for the recently closed Songbirds Guitar Museum, used his DJ hour in January to showcase some of the great guitar songs of all time.
"I went to people at the guitar museum and said: 'Top of your head, first answer you think of, what do you consider the perfect guitar song?"
The resulting playlist ranged from a Freddy King blues classic "Going Down," which name-checks Chattanooga, to "The Dark Side of the Moon" by Pink Floyd, Shannon said.
On a whim, Shannon said he took his then-13-year-old son to his UTC DJ for an Hour taping.
"I'd say, "What did you think about that song?" Shannon said. "He started off with one-word answers, but by the end of the hour he came out of his shell."
Shannon said the experience at UTC was a springboard to hosting a podcast through the Guitar Museum, before it closed in mid-August due to lost revenue caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The museum was said to be the largest collection of rare and vintage guitars in the world.
Shannon said he is an amateur saxophone player with a deep love for music history, so the UTC DJ gig was especially sweet.
He hopes to do another installment of greatest guitar hits when when the program resumes in 2021.
Learn more about the DJ for an Hour program at www.wutc.org.
Contact Mark Kennedy at email@example.com.