The annual WKDU Electronic Music Marathon (EMM) hosted by Drexel University’s independent student radio station has taken on many forms in the name of good causes.
What started as a class project in 1997 has grown into a Philly DJ tradition with around-the-clock programming during the marathon weekend, a remote broadcast party series, and now a check presentation event on Giving Tuesday.
This year’s marathon itself took place from Oct. 5–8, and brought out a myriad of DJs spinning everything from ambient music to disco and techno to experimental and house. Chris Burrell, an adjunct marketing professor at Drexel and the electronic music director of WKDU, said the EMM is a unique event in that DJs do a lot of the fundraising themselves, pledging $50 per hour for the opportunity to perform. Additionally, WKDU linked up with several large donors to help break the fundraising record this year.
“It’s pretty cool how we are able to bring together people from a lot of different scenes, musical styles and different walks of life,” Burrell said of the event.
The station partnered with Philly AIDS Thrift for the second year in a row to fundraise for their organization as well as two that they support: The Attic Youth Center and the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania. All three organizations received $1,500 each from WKDU at a check presentation event on Nov. 27, Giving Tuesday.
“This was definitely our best year yet in terms of fundraising,” Burrell said, noting that the marathon raised a total of $9,000 — half of which goes to the charities and half of which is used to support future WKDU programming. “I think it speaks to the momentum that we’ve grown over the years doing the event and building up our relationship with the community of DJs.”
WKDU also continues to strengthen its relationship with Philly AIDS Thrift, which last year hosted a remote broadcast disco party right from the store at 5th Street and Passyunk Avenue. Due to the event’s success last year, WKDU and AIDS Thrift decided to hold another event this year, and ultimately started an ongoing party fundraiser series called “Thrifty Disco.”
“We basically turn the store into a club with full-on sound, lighting and party vibes,” Burrell said of the events.
Representatives of the organizations benefitting from this year’s EMM reported how they planned to use the funds, which will go on to provide everything from Medicaid care for people living with HIV to housing support for LGBTQ youth and young adults experiencing homelessness.
Philly AIDS Thrift will use its portion of the marathon proceeds to, with the help of WKDU, build a new sound system for the store, as well as a listening station for the used records collection.
Burrell said it takes a diverse group of students, alumni and others to make this event successful year after year.
“People have told me it’s something they look forward to every year, tuning in and listening to these DJs,” Burrell said.
If you missed this year’s EMM, you can listen to the full marathon on Soundcloud here.