“Sonic Highways,” the relaxed Wednesday show hosted by sophomores Celia Konowe and Adam Briggs, is one of the newest music programs on WRUR’s online radio station, “The Sting.”
Before starting the show, and during on-air breaks, Konowe and Briggs banter and discuss classes, rehearsals, and music. Briggs jokes that his parents, listening in, can always tell who picked which song, since they know his music taste inside and out. The environment is relaxed — Konowe maps out the evening’s plan on a paper napkin. But in the few minutes before they are scheduled to speak on air themselves, the chatter peters out and they get down to business.
Konowe and Briggs pay strict attention to detail. Who starts, who is introducing the next song, and everything in between is planned down to the letter. As breaks approach, headsets are adjusted, and the studio falls eerily silent. Then Konowe’s smooth, made-for-radio voice echoes softly through the studio, and out to listeners.
While this past Wednesday was only the third week “Sonic Highways” has aired, it has been a dream of Konowe and Briggs for much longer. Briggs first heard of WRUR through his involvement in International Theatre Program, which is housed in Todd, the same building as WRUR.
Konowe’s connection is more personal. Her father is a UR alum who hosted two radio programs of his own at UR — a folk show during lunchtime and a jazz/new age show at night.
Collaboration is key to the operation of “Sonic Highways.” Briggs typically handles the mic levels, and downloads each week’s songs. Konowe decides the order of the playlist and edits the music. Choosing the songs and the theme to convey is a team effort.
“Sonic Highways” begin their set this week with “Marfa” by Wildcat!Wildcat!, “Runaway Weekend” by Déjà Vu, and “Panopticon” by Cloud Control. There is variety, from jazz to indie pop, but thematic unity keeps the program from feeling too dissimilar. As the show progresses deeper into the hour, there’s more talking, and each host takes a turn gives their own personal music shout out of the week. Briggs gives props to edIT’s album, “Crying over Pros for No Reason,” and Konowe to Syml’s new single, “Clean Eyes.”
They also answer questions sent in by listeners — mostly jokes, like “If you were a box, what would you hold?” or “Sporks – monstrosity or innovation?” But the duo handles them all with good humor. They close their set with “Stupid Deep” by Jon Bellion (a personal favorite of Konowe’s) and “Losing It Over You” by Matoma (feat. Ayme).
Looking forward, “Sonic Highways” aims to move from “The Sting” to broadcasting on FM next semester. The co-hosts are also looking to branch out into different genres of music, like rap and hip hop, and Konowe is even considering bringing some French music to coming playlists. The duo does face an issue with the lack of listeners. Konowe and Briggs both have a list of people to text before each broadcast, reminding them to listen, and they both post on Snapchat when the show is about to go live.
Konowe says “What’s important is the interaction,” not the numbers, but it is hard not to feel the challenge. Briggs offhandedly mentions that they are “Looking to break the record of 16 people”. In order for that to happen, they will need more to tune in.
“Sonic Highways” airs on Wednesdays, at 5 p.m.