When KDHX on-air programmers move through the final process of being approved for a show, they’re required to piece together a couple of sentences that’ll live on the station’s website. These are meant to give a sense of what they spin, what they sound like. Generally doled in two-hour blocks, the community radio station’s programs each get just over 100 hours of airtime a year, but these couple of lines are supposed to contain the basic kernel of truth regarding what listeners will hear weekly.
Crim Dolla Cray, already well-known for her work spinning records at clubs and parties all around town, recently began a program called Beyon’ Cray
, which moves from Tuesday into Wednesday, one of the staples of the station’s fascinating 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. slots. There, programmers play to third shifters and partiers alike, most folks winding down their days alongside a few just getting it started.
Cray’s notion is to keep them awake. “Beyon' Cray gives you music to move to,” reads her programming bio. “Crim spins an eclectic, electric vinyl collection of late '60s and '70s disco, funk, rock and soul. Sounds include everything from slow jams on roller skates to uptempo party boogie. It's music to make you dance.”
Debuting July 11, Beyon’ Cray
has become another program to bear the fingerprints of longtime programmer Doug Morgan. The two were working together at Vintage Vinyl when Morgan mentioned that she should translate her club skills to the station. She laughs that she procrastinated a bit on filling out the paperwork, but that going for a show was definitely something of interest.
Finding a slot meant matching mood and available airtime.
“I wanted to play upbeat, dancey kinds of music," Cray says. "I also play rock & roll, blues, electronic. I guess I wanted to bring up the tempo at night, which has kinda worked out. I want people to feel it.”
In theory more than practice, programmers try to work their moods off the shows directly preceding and following their own, so as not to jolt listeners too hard. It’s a trick, but Cray says that she aims to follow up the old-school R&B and hip-hop of Willie B’s Turn Up to Turn Down
, segueing through moods until turning things over to Ace at 1 a.m., with her every-type-of-rock, genre-shredding Dream Waves
It’s a unique blend, one that Cray makes work despite “his being more R&B, soul, some hip hop, while she’s got more, I guess, of the electric wave kinda stuff.”
By doing so, she’s pulling from a playlist (played on vinyl!) that veers from acts known by your parents to others that are the domain of the hardest-core cratedigger. A single show reflects exactly that. On a recent show, she played everything from Diana Ross to !!! to Budos Band to Gal Costa.
In some respects this diversity shows exactly what Cray has been playing around town in recent years, only now it’s being done to an audience of none at the nighttime version of KDHX. She kicks open the air studio’s main door and plays to an empty hallway, with a handful of callers checking in for disembodied and unpredictable progress reports.
“A club is more intense,” she says. “You actually have an audience, playing music in front of people in a club or a bar. I can see and hear if there’s a feeling in the clubs, as opposed to what’s happening with the radio, where I can’t see anyone.”
But: “You still have an audience.”