Behind The Mic: Rob Rubalcaba

Rob Rubalaba stands outside the Love Library on a sunny afternoon.

When it comes to student organizations on campus, you usually don’t expect professors to be involved. That isn’t the case with KCR College Radio. KCR has Rob Rubalcaba, a math professor at SDSU and San Diego City College, in the studio every Friday from 9 to 10 p.m. I was fortunate enough to ask Rob, also known as Professor Shadow, a few questions for another edition of Behind the Mic. 

Rob’s music show, appropriately named “The Pregame,” is geared toward people who are going out (to bars), he said. If you tune in, you can expect to hear a plethora of golden-age hip hop, and songs sampled by hip hop artists, such as The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Big Poppa,” which samples The Isley Brothers’ “Between The Sheets.” Rob made it clear that he doesn’t play obscure tracks. He said, “I want to keep people interested” by playing music that is known.

“It drives me, I just get this kick of energy from being able to share music.”

Rob, an SDSU grad of 1999, expressed the passion that drives every show he does, all of which are unique.

Rob said that the biggest steps in preparing for his shows are visiting record shops, hunting for the sample records, and then converting the samples to a digital file. He noted that occasionally he skips the conversion and brings the records with him to the studio to throw onto his turntable, a practice that he’s been familiar with for four years.

When I asked Rob about his interest in music and being a DJ, he told me it began at Auburn University during his graduate years. There, Rob started collecting music digitally and making mixes. Simultaneously, Rob was a DJ on Auburn’s WEGL 91.1 FM, the on-campus radio station.

Curious to see what the differences were between WEGL and KCR, I asked Rob what those years were like at the Alabama studio. He mentioned that the station functioned more rigidly than KCR. It required DJs to go through a year of training to fully understand the practices of the studio, such as running the board, before having their own show. Rob followed up by saying he was very happy that KCR gave DJs the “creative freedom” to find new music and share it.

To stand out, Rob plays a continuous mix of music for his whole hour. He may mention a few of the songs and artists at the beginning, but the rest of his show is a solid block of mixed music. Songs flowing into one another, record scratching, matching beats – everything that Rob does when he DJs at bars, he does on his show.

Rob’s chronicle of disc-jockeying at bars began with DJing for two years at Graffiti Beach’s monthly art shows. Alongside doing the boutique store’s shows, Rob would DJ local events in the South Park neighborhood. Rob’s big break came when he got into North Park’s bar and lounge, Bluefoot. There, he held a monthly set, originally called “The Sunday Hangover,” which included a mix of soul and funk. Shortly thereafter, Rob was picked up by another bar, El Dorado, which he has now been at for nearly a year. Beyond that, Rob also DJs at Seven Grand, a whiskey bar in North Park.

The experience of operating turntables at bars can vary depending on where you DJ, according to Rob. He said that some bars want specific music to be played, tracks that aren’t heard anywhere else. However, some bars, like Bluefoot, let Rob pick his own music for the night.

Rob mentioned that as a DJ, he sets the mood for the bar. He can make a slow night turn to a fun party and switch a busy night into a chill evening.

I had to ask about his teaching, and when I did, Rob mentioned, “I love being able to take math that most students don’t like…and  making it exciting for them.” Rob elaborated, saying that he shows students how math is done with music and art, subjects that his students can connect to. “I love walking in to a classroom and seeing smiling faces, especially for a math class,” he said.

One of Rob’s favorite things about SDSU is seeing his past students around campus, with some even getting out of food lines to say hi to their former professor.

Reiterating the love he has for both teaching and his show, Rob said “I’m getting to do what I love day and night.”

You can experience “The Pregame” every Friday from 9  to 10 p.m.

In addition, you can find your favorite DJs on our KCR schedule.

Featured image: Rob Rubalcaba loves to be a part of the campus he teaches at by being involved with KCR. Photo by Sumner Shorey.

Behind the Mic: Aniel Roderickz and Cassidy Ta

Aniel and Cassidy in the SDSU Student Union.

Mondays can be difficult to get through, but KCR aims to alleviate some of that stress with its show lineup, including “Sleepy Solarium,” which airs in the afternoon from 1 to 2. I joined the hosts, Aniel Roderickz and Cassidy Ta, for an interview to see what voices were behind the mic.

Aniel, a senior at SDSU, said that he started “Sleepy Solarium” a couple semesters ago, and primarily played indie rock and alternative. The music playlist has since changed, according to both Cassidy and Aniel. This semester, you can expect to hear a variety of pop, EDM, hip hop and more. Aniel said that he doesn’t necessarily build a playlist for each show. Instead, he spontaneously selects songs while on air. Friends of both Aniel and Cassidy influence which songs are played, as they frequently submit song requests.

When I asked what made their show unique, both hosts had answers for me. Cassidy explained that she does a segment in which she reacts to different music videos, most recently The xx’s video for “On Hold.” Reaction videos, a trend on YouTube, prove to be entertaining; Cassidy brings the trend to KCR’s airwaves. Aniel mentioned that he features a song of the week on every show. Additionally, the two notify listeners of local shows, providing details such as the lineups, venue and prices.

Aniel said that “feeding music to people’s ears” is his favorite part of hosting the show. He explained that having a show allows his friends to experience the music that he likes and recommends. He expressed that “Sleepy Solarium” is a relaxed hour, which I bet many could use on a Monday.

Cassidy, a sophomore and business management major, mentioned that she is the Director of Sponsorships for the Aztec Music Group, a student organization that connects music and business. Aztec Music Group hosts an annual silent disco in Montezuma Hall and is having an “Entertainment Industry Panel” on Feb. 23rd. More details can be found on AMG’s Facebook page

In his fourth semester with KCR, Aniel, an MIS (management information systems) major, shares his personal connection to music. He said that he recently just filled in on the drums at a show for Hand Drawn Tree, an indie alternative band from Chula Vista, CA. Sempra Sol is Aniel’s own indietronica band. Aniel says he writes and produces all of the music, and sings and plays guitar for the band.

You can listen to Aniel and Cassidy on their show, “Sleepy Solarium,” every Monday at 1 p.m. on KCR College Radio.

In addition, you can find your favorite DJs on our KCR schedule.

Featured Image: Aniel Roderickz and Cassidy Ta play a variety of music on their show, which nearly every listener can appreciate. Photo by Sumner Shorey.

Behind the Mic: Christian Le

Christian Le, a music DJ at KCR, begins his playlist for the night in the studio.

Every Wednesday night at 10, Christian Le, a junior at SDSU, can be found in the KCR studio starting his show, “All Earz on Le.” I sat down to interview Christian and find out who was behind the mic. In his second semester with KCR, Christian is continuing his music-oriented show, playing a mix of 90’s and modern rap and R&B. Christian said that the show’s title is a play on 2Pac’s “All Eyez on Me,” which is right in line with his music taste.

According to Christian, last semester’s show was heavily focused on music, but later in the semester he brought in some guests to be on air. For the spring, Christian said he is “pretty much going all out” with his show by having more guests and compiling interviews. “I want to do more variety,” Christian added. He wants to be more comedic and more conversational.

Christian builds a new playlist for his show every week. Being born in the later half of the 90’s, Christian said that he wasn’t able to fully appreciate the legends 2Pac or Biggie Smalls, although both make appearances in his playlists. Modern rap finds its way onto Christian’s playlists too, through giants such as Kendrick Lamar.

When I asked Christian about any inspirations he had for his show, he mentioned the podcast “The Handsome Rambler,” by Hannibal Buress. Christian pointed out that he hopes to replicate a segment from Hannibal’s podcast, in which he invites his Tinder matches onto the show. With humor being a focal point for “All Earz on Le,” a new Tinder segment would bring a modern comedic twist to the show.

As the sole host of his show, Christian loves the creative freedom he has. Christian told me that early in the fall semester, his co-host left him, forcing him to adapt to running the show by himself, a challenge he seemed to be thankful for.

I asked Christian to describe the biggest challenge he has faced in relation to his show. Being that the show is rap and R&B, Christian said ensuring all his music is clean proves to be the biggest hurdle. KCR avoids explicit lyrics, a policy that all DJ’s abide by.

Looking toward the future, Christian said that “it would be nice [to be] nominated for something,” when discussing next year’s Intercollegiate Broadcast System awards.

You can listen to Christian Le on his show, “All Earz on Le,” every Wednesday at 10 P.M. on KCR College Radio.

In addition, you can find your favorite DJs on our KCR schedule.

Featured Image: Christian Le, a marketing major at SDSU, finds a balance between classic and modern rap and R&B. Photo by Sumner Shorey.