UMSL faculty and staff members hit the airwaves on UMSL Radio

by | Feb 26, 2024

Staff members Jessica Long-Pease and Dorian Hall joined UMSL Radio to explore their love of music and engage with students in a new way.
Jessica Long-Pease and Dorian Hall

UMSL staff and faculty members are hosting more than a dozen new shows on UMSL Radio. Jessica Long-Pease, vice provost for student affairs, and Dorian Hall, director of the Millennium Student Center and Event Services, are two of the new DJs. They’re both hosting shows focused on their personal connections to music. (Photo by Derik Holtmann)

Music has always been a significant part of Jessica Long-Pease’s life.

“It was a part of my childhood,” said Long-Pease, the vice provost for student affairs at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. “My parents always had vinyls playing, and music was that soundtrack to all the car rides you took before there were tablets. You really were plugged into what your parents were listening to. I remember that being such a foundational piece of growing up.”

She went on to marry a musician and raise a daughter whose first favorite musician is David Bowie – a refined choice for someone born in 2011. However, she never thought any of that would lead to a radio show.

But earlier this month, Long-Pease found herself making her debut as a DJ with her best friend and fellow staff member Jessica Hylton on their new UMSL Radio show, “Xennial Mixtape.”

“It was clunky the first go around,” Long-Pease said with a laugh.

“Xennial Mixtape” is just one of more than a dozen new shows hosted by faculty and staff members hitting the airwaves on UMSL Radio. It’s part of the student-managed radio station’s recent push to create more opportunities to get involved with the organization.

“First and foremost, we just wanted to open up to the entire UMSL community because it was already open to students,” said Jalen Walker-Wright, general manager of UMSL Radio. “We just wanted to broaden the horizon for staff and faculty to join, to share their wisdom, to share their knowledge, to share their experiences with UMSL students.”

The expanded programming is emblematic of the station’s continued growth and success over the past two academic years. Walker-Wright, a senior business administration major, was instrumental in reviving the station after it went dormant around 2020.

Dorian Hall, director of the Millennium Student Center and Event Services, and Lester Stewart, associate director of Event Services, took note of the successful relaunch and stepped in to become co-advisors to UMSL Radio last spring. Over the summer, Hall and Stewart were able to provide resources to refresh the studio on the second level of the Millennium Student Center. The upgrades included new carpet, paint and equipment.

After watching the station operate for the better part of a year, Hall felt confident it could broaden its scope going into this semester. That’s when he encouraged Walker-Wright to roll out options for faculty and staff radio shows.

Walker-Wright was expecting to hear back from two or three faculty or staff members after sending an email to gauge interest in January. He was pleasantly surprised when about 15 people expressed interest in joining UMSL Radio, including Hall and Long-Pease. Some of the new recruits, like Hall, had experience in college radio, while others, like Long-Pease, were stepping into the studio for the first time.

Hall, an UMSL alum, hosted a radio show around 2009 as an undergraduate student and had many friends who were involved with the station.

“I felt a little nostalgic because I had been on the station before and thought this might be a great opportunity to get back on there again and do something fun and interesting personally but also being able to support the radio station in another way by having a show,” he said.

Long-Pease thought it would be a good way to support student engagement on campus while also stepping out of her comfort zone.

“It was just a really neat opportunity to help support the students and the mission of the radio station and be active in what they’re trying to cultivate in terms of campus community and engagement,” Long-Pease said. “When they opened it up for faculty and staff to participate, I thought it’d be really fun to do a radio show.”

After two weeks of training sessions, new shows began airing on Feb. 4. The staff and faculty programming ranges in format from standard music shows to news shows to talk shows about a variety of subjects from astrology to education. Walker-Wright added that most new shows are 30 minutes, but there are a few spanning an hour.

Hall and Long-Pease are sharing a half-hour time slot at 9 a.m. on Thursdays. The arrangement allows them to trade off each week, so they can fit UMSL Radio into their busy schedules.

Both are hosting shows focused on their personal connections to music. Hall has loved music his whole life and listens to a wide range of genres. He plans to concentrate on a different theme each week on “The One with the Randomness.” For his first show on Feb. 15, he took into account the Valentine’s Day holiday and Black History Month.

“I chose to do some songs centered around Black love,” he said. “I picked a couple of songs that were expressing the love that I have for my wife but also picked a song dedicated to my mother. Another song that I selected was dedicated to my children as their father but also as an ode to other Black fathers.”

In the future, Hall would like to do half hours centered on anime, film and TV scores and Christian hip hop.

On “Xennial Mixtape,” Long-Pease and Hylton explore the music memories related to their relationship and the crossover generation between Gen-X and Millennials in general.

“We’ve really cemented our show on this idea of reminiscing about growing up together and these little stories that are funny to us now in retrospect, then the music that goes along with it,” Long-Pease said. “We were just talking about how all of our friends were listening to Nirvana and these other up-and-coming bands, and we’re listening to adult contemporary Latin explosion.”

The pair is structuring their second show around music from beloved childhood movies, including Cyndi Lauper’s prominence on “The Goonies” soundtrack.

Hall and Long-Pease said participation in UMSL Radio has been a great way to connect with students in a space where they’re empowered to lead. Faculty and staff members have also been able to show a side of themselves beyond their official role at the university.

“It gives us an opportunity to engage with the students in a different way and to showcase some of the interests that we have and the experiences that we have outside of the work environment,” Long-Pease said. “It’s just a fun way to connect on a different level.”

Burk Krohe

Burk Krohe