Thanks to Tahsin Alam '04, 'dead air' is rare on WRBC

The work of a radio disc jockey seems simple: spin some discs and in between songs, run your mouth.

Tahsin Alam ’04, who is programming director and a deejay at WRBC-FM, the Bates station, knows better. “That one second when you flip on the On the Air light and you know there’s hundreds of people out there listening to you,” he says, “you’re sweating.”

A native of Dhaka, Bangladesh, Alam is a political science major with a minor in economics and theater (two logical subsets of politics, after all.) As programming director of WRBC, he enlists deejays from the campus and the greater community and plots out the broadcast schedule.

No slacker, Alam also belongs to the Representative Assembly and the presidential search committee. Serious commitments under any circumstances, those can become downright complex in the context of his radio work. As the person responsible for ensuring that ‘RBC’s air is never empty, Alam keeps a pager close by 24-7 and is obliged to step up to the microphone himself if no sub can be found for an absent deejay.

“Not surprisingly, it almost always happens during the 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. period,” says Alam, no stranger to spending the wee small hours over a hot mixing board. “One thing we cannot have is dead air, and we also don’t want to have a deejay there longer than he or she needs to be.”