WKDU Celebrates Marathon Anniversary With 84 Hours of Electronic Music

WKDU's Electronic Music Marathon.
Vinyl wizard Blaak the 9th Man kicking off the 14th annual Electronic Music Marathon on Friday afternoon.

It’s been 20 years since WKDU, Drexel University’s student-run radio station, had its first ever Electronic Music Marathon (EMM). With such a milestone at hand, WKDU decided to put a special twist on this year’s annual event by remote broadcasting from two different locations throughout the city for the very first time this past Saturday and Sunday.

WKDU’s EMM started as a class project all those years ago and has blossomed into a Philly DJ tradition that raises money and awareness for a different local nonprofit every year, with previous partners including Mural Arts, PAWS and Musicopia. This year’s marathon supported Philly AIDS Thrift.

For this year’s 14th annual EMM — there was a six-year hiatus that ended in 2014 — WKDU enlisted nearly 100 DJs to help keep the tunes spinning for three-and-a-half days, with musical selections running the gamut from house and techno to ambient and experimental, even including some live synthesizer performances. The extended weekend on the radio dial has so far pulled in almost $5,000 to help support Philly AIDS Thrift, with more donations still processing through the system.

On Saturday night, WKDU hosted a disco party right in the AIDS Thrift store at 5th Street and Passyunk Avenue, bringing together a group of the city’s top disco and funk DJs. The next day, special guest D’Julz, a well-respected French DJ and label owner, played a set at Center City nightclub Rumor as part of the marathon.

Chris Burrell, an adjunct marketing professor at Drexel and the electronic music director of WKDU, said the event and remote broadcasts went smoothly thanks in large part to the efforts of younger station members who stepped up and took on larger responsibilities.

“Part of the beauty of college radio is that people grow and take on leadership roles and develop into not only leaders, but also excellent radio hosts and DJs and musicians,” said Burrell.

He noted that all of the people working the EMM volunteered their time to participate. With no overhead or administrative costs, all the money can go straight to the cause — one that aligns well with the radio station.

“Philly AIDS Thrift is a remarkable organization,” said Burrell. “They just have such a similar outlook and personality to WKDU: whimsical, quirky and really fun. We’re both cultural institutions in Philly, so it was a perfect partnership.”

If you missed part of the marathon or want to re-live the radio goodness, WKDU will be posting all the sets from the EMM on their SoundCloud. Check out the EMM website to make a donation or buy a merchandise package. Proceeds will be split between Philly AIDS Thrift and WKDU.