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Arts & Entertainment - Campus & Community

Turning It Up to 78: WKDU Hosts Successful DJ Marathon

October 21, 2015

A DJ spinning during the 78-hour Electronic Music Marathon hosted by WKDU.
A DJ spinning during the 78-hour Electronic Music Marathon hosted by WKDU.

In just its second year back after a seven-year hiatus, the WKDU Electronic Music Marathon dialed it up to 11.

Or 78, in this case.

“We went from 6 p.m. Friday night [Oct. 9] until midnight that Monday [Oct. 12], 78 hours of continuous music, all from Philadelphia-based DJs,” said Chris Burrell, electronic music director of Drexel’s student-run radio station, WKDU 91.7 FM. “Normally, the tradition has been 75 hours but the demand was so high this year that we had to stretch it out.”

Featuring more than 70 of Philly’s premier electronic music’s DJs spinning a wide variety of genres such as disco, techno and house, WKDU’s 12th Electronic Music Marathon proved to be a landmark event in the station’s history.

“The lineup was awesome,” Burrell said. “Anyone who is really plugged into the DJ scene was like, ‘Wow.’ We left no stone unturned and we had the buzz going all weekend.”

(The station is gradually uploading all of the audio from the marathon onto its SoundCloud account for those interesting in reliving it.)

Some of the marquee names included King Britt, Cosmo Baker and Rich Medina — just three of the many internationally touring DJs who have made Philly a globally known hotbed for DJs.

“Those are world-renowned DJs,” Burrell said. “They’ve all been friends for years but I don’t think they’ve been in the same room together performing for a while.”

WKDU’s marathon raised approximately $4,000 this year.  This money will go toward general operating costs and improvements, as well as allowing the station to buy professional DJ equipment to keep in-studio for future events. The funds that were raised will also allow WKDU to make a sizable donation to this year’s designated non-profit partner, Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.

“In our second year bringing back the marathon, we really wanted to step up the game in terms of scope and fundraising, so we want with a brand name non-profit that everybody knows,” Burrell explained.

There was special synchronicity between the marathon and Mural Arts this year, as Mural Arts unveiled a mural led by famous artist Shepard Fairey (the man behind the Obama “HOPE” art, among many other pieces) paying homage to Philly’s rich legacy of DJs on October 16th.

The Philadelphia Mural Arts Program's "Long Play Philly DJs" mural that was officially unveiled Oct. 16. Photo by Steve Weinik.
The Philadelphia Mural Arts Program's "Long Play Philly DJs" mural that was officially unveiled Oct. 16. Photo by Steve Weinik.

“Mural Arts’ Philly DJ Mural Project has been all about teaching the bright kids in our art education program about Philadelphia’s rich DJ history and culture, as well as the fundamentals of scratching and mixing, planting the seeds for a new generation of superstars,” said Nicole Steinberg, director of communications for the Mural Arts Program. “WKDU and Mural Arts’ longtime friend Cosmo Baker have been natural partners, and the Electronic Music Marathon was perfectly timed prior to the unveiling of our new mural on 13th and Chestnut streets. We’re so grateful for WKDU’s support of Mural Arts, which will help us continue to bring great programs to talented kids across the city.”

“The DJ mural is really indicative of how there has always been DJ talent in Philly,” Burrell said. “It’s always been a taste-making capital for DJs, even back to the days of American Bandstand. We just got lucky to get linked up with such an awesome person like Cosmo Baker who knew about the DJ mural well before its unveiling and is on the advisory board for Mural Arts.”

In what Burrell described as an “all hands on deck” effort, the various talents of WKDU’s members shined through in the planning and execution of the event.

And when it came down to it, the music made it all worth it.

“I said it was pretty lucky that we got King Britt, Cosmo Baker and Rich Medina all together for this event,” Burrell recalled. “Then King Britt said, ‘It wasn’t luck. We wanted to be here.’ It was really touching. DJs at the very top recognized what we were trying to do.”

Donations can still be made to the Electronic Music Marathon to support both WKDU and the Mural Arts Program. Go to the website here to make a tax deductible donation or pick up a merchandise package that was donated by local businesses or artists.


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