Vinylthon 2020: One student’s epic 24-hour vinyl marathon!

Vinylthon 2020, part one (or side one) took place last Saturday, April 18.

Even though the COVID-19 situation has meant many radio stations are currently closed, that did not stop many of them celebrating remotely, spinning vinyl from their DJ’s homes. The event would take place in 11 countries around the world, although nearly all the countries participating were under lock-down.

For SFC Radio, at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights, NY, the whole team got involved, even though they were all at their individual homes:

At Uni Radio 99.7 FM located at Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, DJs played their vinyl favorites live in-studio, but observed social distancing measures and wore masks at all times. They also streamed live on Facebook for many hours, and enjoyed a lot of interaction with those watching the livestream.

Uni Radio 99.7 FM streamed live from Mexico

However, for one DJ, at Radio Bux, at Bucks County Community College, Pennsylvania, Vinylthon 2020 was an experience like no other. Collegeradio.org caught up with Nick Macy from Radio Bux to find out how he did it.

Radio Bux’s Nick Macy, a student at Bucks County Community College

What was the original plan about this year’s Vinylthon for Radio Bux?
It was originally supposed to be 24 hours with 6 DJs/shows.  We had actually just finalized the schedule for the event and everything when the school had announced that students wouldn’t be returning to campus after Spring Break.

So, how did you end up doing all 24 hours solo?
When the announcement came down my first thought was, “Okay, let me pack up as much as I can to make sure I can set up a more advanced remote to handle Vinylthon, and maybe we’ll find a centralized location we can broadcast from on the 18th.”  But once it became clear that things weren’t easing up and that social distancing would prevent us from gathering, I used our remote gear to bolster my home studio setup and decided I would keep Vinylthon alive on my own, and started planning on doing a 12 hour broadcast.  But the week before Vinylthon I finally decided I had enough albums (and wanted to play more than 12 hours would allow for) and that I should just try to go the distance for the whole 24 hours, both to prove it to myself I could do it, and to keep the original plan for a 24 hour broadcast intact.

Where did you broadcast from?
I broadcast from my home utilizing our station’s remote broadcast gear and tapping into our server remotely.

How was the experience? Any highlights? Any moments that were tough?
It was absolutely amazing.  A lot of close friends were tuned in throughout the broadcast cheering me along through the duration.  It was so much fun being able to play albums front to back for people and sharing so much great music through the entire event.  I’d say some of my favorite moments were the Yacht Rock Vinyl Show Within A Show I did from 7-10 PM and playing Phantom of the Opera in its entirety from 4-6 AM.  Another highlight was promising listeners that they were about to hear an album front to back and then instead of playing said album, I played Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” and “Rick Roll’d” my listeners on vinyl.  Some of the tough moments included trying to keep up with all the moving parts on my own.  I was balancing running our social media pages while also DJing, and for the most part that wasn’t too challenging, but during the Yacht Rock show where I was swapping records off the two tables every song, it started becoming a lot to juggle.  I was relieved to make it to the end of that mini show because it gave me an opportunity to throw on a full album afterwards and clean up a bunch of albums that were now scattered everywhere because I couldn’t keep up with keeping them organized.  The other toughest moment was probably the last 6 hours of the broadcast.  I was trying to watch my caffeine intake at the end because I wanted to be able to sleep when it was all over, and was definitely in a foggy state for the homestretch.

What kind of music did you play?
Primarily classic rock.  I had a few newer release rock albums from some bands, but the vast majority of music played on Saturday was classic rock.  I played a little disco and funk at one point, Daft Punk’s “Discovery” front to back late night, and my favourite, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera” in its entirety during the late night/early morning hours.  All said and done I played 13 different albums front to back, and spun 278 songs total through the entire event.  Some of the other albums played front to back included The Rolling Stones “Exile On Main St.”, Talking Heads “Remain in Light” & “Speaking In Tongues”, Pink Floyd’s “Animals” & “Wish You Were Here” (We played “Dark Side” the previous Monday as a Vinylthon preview), The Cars’ self titled debut, Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy” and “Led Zeppelin IV”, The Beatles “Abbey Road”, The Black Keys “Let’s Rock” and Green Day’s “Father Of All…”

At the very end, how did you feel?
Like I’d just won a championship or something; it really felt like a victory!  I did that Johnny Drama “Victory” shout from HBO’s “Entourage” after I signed off.  All the messages I received as I was signing off and immediately after really just put me on cloud nine too.  I was also feeling pretty delirious and tired as well, was definitely ready to crash.  It was an amazing experience, and felt like a heck of an accomplishment.

What message do you want to share with the larger college radio / student community?
That now, more than ever, music and college radio is important.  The escape and catharsis it provides for both the DJs and the listeners can be so crucial during stressful times.  We’re all in this together, we’ve got to look out for each other and help promote fellow college radio stations, and keep coming together for events such as College Radio Day and Vinlython because it’s what truly unites the community behind a single idea for the duration of an event.  When everyone’s using the same hashtags to promote these events on social media it starts to gain the attention of people outside our delightful little community and can help expand the reach of some of the smaller stations who struggle to reach new listeners.

We congratulate Nick for his achievement and we let him know that he has not only won a Golden Slipmat Award for his station, but has been awarded one himself, for individual achievement!

Congratulations to all the stations that participated on April – here’s to June 20th and the next installment, or Side Two, of Vinylthon 2020!