As more and more people are discovering music outside of their home countries and usual genres, a need for more exposure of these barrier-breaking sounds has arisen. To meet this need, junior media arts and practice and cognitive science major Thomas Forman decided to showcase underrepresented global musicians by hosting his own radio show.
Adopting the alias “DJ Mr. Dr. Beast Jr.,” Forman spearheaded the brand new KXSC radio show “Around Da World.”
The pre-recorded show, which will consist of 12 episodes, aims to explore popular music genres from ten regions of the world. In his first episode, Forman said that he spent the summer researching various types of music and musicians from countries such as Zambia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Brazil and Italy, and regions of the Middle East and the Caribbean.
While planning the show, Forman tried to steer away from highlighting the sounds of predominantly white countries, choosing instead to showcase non-Western genres like Zamrock, a rock genre from Zambia, disco from Tunisia and jazz from Ethiopia. His inspiration to make this decision partially came from a fellow KXSC radio host Aida Rogers, who he credits for his privy to bias in the music industry.
“They were teaching me about the bias in the music industry including lumping all non-United States music into a world category, and how problematic that is,” Forman said.
The show came to fruition after Rogers mentioned the idea of creating a music show demonstrating different sub genres from around the world. Inspired by this, Forman set out to fulfill that need and hopefully break stereotypes along the way.
“It’s something we’ve been trying to push for” said Ilana Cohen, a senior cognitive science major and KXSC’s general manager. Cohen emphasized the significance of recognizing and representing international world music at the radio station.
“Every month, the music director gets new music from artists, as well as looks for music that is not really represented in the music world, especially in radio, especially in Los Angeles, a very Western, upper class area, predominantly white,” she explained. “So I think Thomas’s show really aids and encourages us to keep doing that.”
Kevin Lyman, associate professor of practice in the Thornton School of Music, echoed those sentiments, saying that the creation of a global radio show is “a starting point for us to all understand each other a little more.” He also identified an increase in worldwide open mindedness towards international music, citing Bad Bunny and K-Pop as examples of this attitude change.
“We are trying to understand people through their music, and I think there’s a way we can do that [to] open up certain doors,” said Lyman.
For Forman, the process of creating “Around Da World” has helped him unlearn the westernized education he has received in school.
“I guess it’s just kind of given me a more like... direct insight into other people’s cultures,” said Forman.
While Forman’s radio show may just be getting off the ground, it is certainly setting a precedent for college radio shows to hold diversity and inclusivity of global perspectives as standards for their content.
Correction: A previous version of this story stated that Aida Rogers was unable to create their own world music show before they graduated. This is incorrect; they previously hosted a global music show.