An all vinyl radio show, yes please! Today meet Debra Warren co-host of Black Circle Radio. I’m sure a lot of you have heard of Black Circle Radio Debra and Mitch are pretty active in the vinyl community from attending Making Vinyl to their presence on social media.
When Debra isn’t spinning records on the radio she’s busy as a Mom, dietician, and a city commissioner!
“In addition to being a DJ, I love being a dietitian and a city commissioner. I feel grateful to have these outlets I am passionate about. I also really like to cook! Not the rushed, we have to eat something, kind of cooking – but listening to music, pulling out an apron, pouring a drink and taking your time with the process of cooking. I love that.”
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
Back in 2012, I had just graduated college and my boyfriend was the host of Black Circle Radio on a FM station at Central Michigan University. With moving after college, he was looking for a new co-host and a new home for his show – so I became the co-host and he ran the show on an Internet station, SoR Radio. Which meant we were hauling turntables, records, a mixer, microphones, headphones – etc around to family and friends for awhile until we got our own apartment to run the show out of. So the show was couchsurfing for awhile, hahaha. Now we’re married and in addition to the show airing on SoR every week, we also do a live all vinyl broadcast from an FM station in MI, Muskegon 100.9 WFFR-LP. We’ve also had the pleasure of spinning at live events in Michigan – music festivals, weddings, fundraisers. I have always loved music and what started when I was younger as burning mixed CDs for myself and friends and family, has turned into putting together setlists for the radio program.
Music connects people, vinyl connects people, and it’s a genuine pleasure to be a part of.
What is a day in the life like?
In addition to the radio program, I am a Registered Dietitian as my day job and I am a City Commissioner for the City of Muskegon – so a lot of my vinyl world lately is putting a record on while making dinner or occasionally going to the record store on the weekends. I still love picking out my sets for the radio show and being on air is a blast, although I’m in the studio less now than I used to be. Often, I’m listening to the radio show from home with DJ Wiggles, our 2 year old son.
What has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
Honestly, Black Circle Radio over the years has been such a surreal ride. We have done shows from basements and studios and breweries and out of our 500 square foot apartment. It’s been a blast and I have had the opportunity to meet and work with people locally, nationally and internationally. It has been such a sincere and tender experience for me. I think some of my favorite moments have been when we have guests on the show bringing part of their own vinyl collection and playing tribute sets for loved ones. The stories and connection between music and vinyl is so rich.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
I’m kind of pouting right now because I’m not on the show as often as I would like to be, haha. I still pick out the sets each week, but I’m not there physically in the studio as much. I think – like so many women, and so many women in vinyl, we’re all trying to balance our different roles. I appreciate this platform because it acknowledges that we’re all here.
We might not be here exactly how we want to be, but we’re here and kicking ass and encouraging one another. Sometimes it’s difficult to ride the ebbs and flows.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
To anyone wanting to be on the radio, I hope you will look up your local stations/programs and give them a call (or email)! There may be an opportunity for you to be a guest on a show, intern, or have a job shadow. My husband got his degree in Broadcast and Cinematic Arts and for some people that makes sense. But, anyone wanting to get involved in this – find someone doing what you want to be doing and ask them for a little bit of their time to pick their brain. And try not to be intimidated that you don’t belong here or something, you have a lot to offer – go get it!
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
Yesssss! I love my vinyl collection! Flipping through record bins is such an experience – it’s the thrill of the hunt, right? And then you find one you want, get it home, clean it, cue it up and enjoy. In my opinion, there’s such a personal and social uniqueness to vinyl compared to other mediums. So you’ve got digging for used records on one hand and buying new, shiny, sometimes brightly colored vinyl in the other hand. The appeal of both is real. It’s so satisfying. And I just can’t say that about other mediums.
What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.
The boom in vinyl has been so exciting and I hope it continues! When Black Circle Radio started in 2009, the vinyl world had not exploded like it is now. We couldn’t go to Target or Aldi or Bed, Bath and Beyond to get vinyl?! And there weren’t so many awesome local record stores either! I hope people continue to support their local record stores. And I hope this boom continues. It’s imperative that we continue to support high quality products and demand more inclusive spaces in the industry.
Anything else you’d like to share? If not, tell me what you’re currently listening to?
A huge thank you for providing this platform! I am happy to be a part of the ‘Women in Vinyl’ community. Lately some of my favorite albums to listen to are Michael Franti + Spearhead, Dolly Parton, The Dells, and Cardi B.
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