UtahFM first started up in 2008 it did its best from the beginning to
find a home for all the then former-KRCL volunteer hosts who at the
time found themselves without a shift. After the dust cleared and
everyone figured out whether they would stay or not, the search went
out for new talent to fill the empty slots. Either by way of former
broadcasters looking to join in, or fresh-faced talent who knowingly
weren't going to get a paid gig from corporate radio. And by that
process the internet station found itself some of the best talent
--- Take for example the Friday mid-day shift held down by Dag. A former Simmons intern with nowhere to go after his term was up, turned to the station in April of 2009 and quickly became one of the most respected and talked about names currently on the schedule. Playing a mix of local musicians as well as unknown national indie and world artists, Dag has done the one thing most DJ's in the country only wish they could do... play whatever the hell they want and influence everyone they can. I got a chance to chat with the man himself after he recently passed the one-year marker on his show, talking about his career plus thoughts on music and broadcasting, all with pictures from my visit a few weeks back (where he also chatted with Allison Martin and rock group SPORK).
Daniel “Dag” Gentry
Gavin: Hey Daniel! First off, tell us a bit about yourself.
Daniel: I graduated from Hillcrest High School in 2008. I was born in Japan, and no, I'm not Japanese. I was also born with six fingers, but they were cut off at birth. I'm a pretty outgoing person and like to meet new people all the time.
Gavin: What drew you into music in general, and what are some of your favorite artists?
Daniel: Well, I've always enjoyed music since I was little. I have too many favorites, but if I had to pick my top five artists it would be: Bob Dylan, Bad Religion, The Clash, Sparta and RJD2.
Gavin: How did you first take an interest in radio and what drew you to want to make it a career?
Daniel: My first interest was when I was job shadowing Todd Nuke'em for school when I was in 14. I thought it was so cool that he got paid to sit on his ass and play music. I then decided to be a radio broadcaster during Reality Town, which was an event that 9th graders participated in to show how what job and education would impact your life. Later that year, once school was over for summer, I decided I wanted to intern for X96.
Gavin: What made you jump right in as opposed to going to college first?
Daniel: When I graduated High School, I didn't have money for college at the time and didn't want to worry about stupid student loans that I wouldn't be able to pay for. Because I've seen family and friends struggle with paying for loans for school, or paying for bills they couldn't pay for because they couldn't work as much as they could while being in school. So I decided to pass on going to school, because I knew it would impact me in ways that would give me extra stress on my shoulders. College isn't for everyone I've always said, but I would like to go back to school when I have the money. All I can say to everyone that's reading this right now... if you have a dream to be someone you want to be someday, then strive for it. Dreams aren't easy to achieve, if you can get through the time and effort to get somewhere, as well as getting positive and negative comments for what your doing, you'll eventually get there. Also when trying to achieve your dream, never let anyone get in your way of doing something you enjoy in life. Its your life not theirs... now get off that easy chair and make something out of your life if you haven't yet.
Gavin: How did the opportunity come about to work for Simmons Media?
Daniel: I got the email contacts for all the Simmons Media stations, and emailed the director in charge of each station. All the stations rejected me, except for one called X96. Randi Wilson, who was the Promotions Director at the time, told me to send an email to Richie T. Steadman, the producer of the Radio From Hell show. I then contacted him and received an email back shortly after to give him a copy of my resume, as well as a call to set up a interview to come sit in the studio for a period of time, just so Kerry, Bill, and Gina could get to know me. After that period of time, had a interview with the one, the only, Richie T. Steadman. He reviewed my resume, asked me a couple questions and asked me when I could start. I said. "Right away." I started the internship for Radio From Hell in August of 2008 and finished December of 2008. Oddly enough, that same day my computer decided to take a shit on me. Pretty eventful December day I must say. I later stayed on and helped Portia until she left the station in May of 2009, and came to UtahFM.
Gavin: What was it like for you working with Portia during that time, and what experience did you gain working for the station as a whole?
Daniel: I loved working for Portia, I'm pretty sure I learned a lot more during the time I was interning under Portia, then I did during my internship with the morning show. But I did learn how to edit audio with Audition during my internship with the show. I learned many things from both experiences I had, because of the knowledge I had with Audition, I decided to take upon myself to start a new podcast for the station. The name of it was called the "Live & Local Podcast". It was up online for at least 4-5 months until Portia left. I'm proud of myself for making a new way to access Utah local artist interviews from her show.
Gavin: What eventually led to you picking up the gig at UtahFM?
Daniel: My brother found a article about UtahFM in either City Weekly or Catalyst and knew I had a interest in radio broadcasting. He said "Give it a try." So I did. I loved the idea that it was uncensored, because if you know me, I don't like censorship. I believe it wrecks the piece of art that the artist or composer made. But I found that article and decided to volunteer. I went online, filled out the volunteer form (which anyone can register to be) and waited for a response. A month or so goes by, I then glance at my inbox and saw that I got a email letting me know that there was going to be a upcoming open house for new volunteers. I made a note of what day it was gonna be held and decided to go. I attended the meeting, met a lot of interesting people that had the same love for music I did. Later that night I spoke to Rachael, who was one of the coordinators of UtahFM, who also had a show of her own at the station.
Gavin: Did you have an idea of what you'd be doing with your shift when you came in, or was it more impromptu playlists?
Daniel: When I first started I was just a volunteer, so I didn't know what I was actually gonna do when I got an actual on air spot. But I had one idea, that was to focus on local music for one, and the other reason was to just give listeners another place to find music they've never heard of such as local and indie artists.
Gavin: Offhand, how did the nickname Dag come around?
Daniel: I got my name from a show on Nickelodeon called "Angry Beavers". There were two main characters named Daggett and Norbort. That’s where I first heard the name. It’s also a county in Southern Utah too, which I learned in history class in school. So I decided to start calling myself “Dagget”. It was just a profile name I used for my MySpace profile. Ha…who uses MySpace now anyways? Well I do, but just to stay in contact with bands and such. So I used that name for that. which later later caught on as a nickname for me. I later decided to shorten it and just call myself “Dag”. I’ve stayed with that nickname ever since then.
Gavin: How did the idea come for you to start playing local music?
Daniel: Well at the time the station didn't have a show that played Utah local music. So I thought it would be a great idea to have another outlet to hear Utah's talent. I've gotta say, Utah has one impressive local music scene. And keeps growing day by day.
Gavin: You also include more worldly music from overseas and material not being played around the country. How do you end up picking those that you'll play?
Daniel: I'll say just two things, Last.FM and YouTube. Those websites are two places that are major help with finding new music, especially overseas. Last.FM allows you to put one artist in, and it'll bring up 25 pages of similarities of that artist you entered in. Also with Last.FM you make an account like you would with any other social networking website, like MySpace or Facebook for example. YouTube is like Last.FM, but the only difference is that you won't get 25 pages that are filled with similar artists from the search you made. The one thing I like about YouTube is that you can usually put in something to find, such as an artist you wanna find, and it'll give you suggestions of what to watch next. It could be the same artist that your listening to, or it could be something different. But yeah, those are two ways I usually find music overseas.
Gavin: You recently hit the one-year anniversary for the show. How has the overall experience been for you so far, and what do you plan on doing with the show from here?
Daniel: The experience of doing my show at UtahFM has been great. It did take me a little while to get comfortable with the mic though. But once I did I was on fire. Not literally though. My plans for the show will always change from show to show, such as music that will be played, guests that I'll be having on the show, and other surprises that I like to keep hidden 'til the day of the show. I'm planning on playing a little more local music than I have in the past, because the local music and art scene that Utah has, deserves it very much.
Gavin: Moving onto local stuff, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?
Daniel: I've gotta say, Utah has one great local music scene. And keeps growing day by day. Hell, I showed Portia the other day my friend that has been playing guitar and writes his own lyrics. I have a theory that the local scene started to progress more and more, right after the 2002 Winter Olympics. I'm glad we have artists becoming bigger, and getting out to spread the word of what they have to say to the world. There's nothing wrong with the local scene we have in Salt Lake City, but there can always be improvements to it, nothing wrong with improvements, as long as their headed in the right direction.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it better?
Daniel: The local and indie scene has been growing and still is. There's no need to change things, but if I had to name one thing that could be changed, that thing would be to have more local free shows. Like for example, Music@Main, which is a new thing that The City Library in downtown Salt Lake City has been highlighting Utah's best local talent that Utah can offer. It's held every third Wednesday of every month. Located on the 4th Floor in one of the conference rooms. This is the 2nd year that The City Library has been doing this, and so far their getting a great turn out for it. Hell, the best part of it is, now get this, I'll only say it once, its fucking free!!!! One more thing I should add, if you can't make it to the live performance at The City Library, just tune into UtahFM for a live broadcast of the show during it.
Gavin: What's your overall feeling on local radio, both corporate and community?
Daniel: Well there's pro's and con's about both areas in radio broadcasting. With corporate radio you have all those damn commercials ever 15 minutes. The music they play is pretty good, but not when you hear the same song practically every hour or two. Now with community radio you have a voice to the community, instead of going on air saying a 30 second bit before playing the song from a synchronized playlist that the station has made. Community radio also involves the community with what happening in the community around them and what their doing as well, and I like that. Now in this era where we live in nowadays, where everyone has iPods or MP3 players. You can't just play music and expect people to listen, you gotta offer something to the listener that they wouldn't normally get from those. So, with both types of radio broadcasting, you gotta brainstorm and always think of good ideas to spark the listeners interest.
Gavin: What are your thoughts on local labels, and do you believe they help or hinder musicians?
Daniel: I don't have much of an opinion on local labels. All I can say is, if their supporting local music and getting their voices heard, then I have nothing against that.
Gavin: What do you think of our current venues, and are there any changes you wish they'd make?
Daniel: Well all of our venues could get changes done to them. But one thing that needs to be fixed, is to have better booking agents. Some teenagers want to see bands that are playing bar shows, but I do understand that bars make more money off beer and alcohol than they would with ticket sales. What venues here in Utah need to change is to have the bartenders actually check their ID's every time they buy a drink. Why is it so hard to ID after each drink? Oh ya... maybe because they're just too damn lazy to ID, so they just ID at the doors. Well in my opinion, I think venues would make more money if they opened the shows down to 18 . I would think that if bar shows did that, they'd get a better turn out. But then again, I could be wrong.
Gavin: What can we expect from you the rest of the year?
Daniel: Lots of new music music that you won't normally hear anywhere... unless you go on a new music binge like I do at times. If not, then expect great music to be played each week. As well as some special guests like indie and local artists. I'm hoping to get some of the indie artists that are planning to come this summer to do a small interview, either in studio or on the phone live during the show.
Gavin: Aside the obvious, is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Daniel: Yes I would. Portia's show, "Unsigned Uncensored" Monday's 3-6PM. You can also listen to all recent UtahFM broadcasts on the archives on our website, so if you can't tune in that day you can listen to it later. Gotta love technology. Add me on Facebook and my fan page as well. A couple bands you should check out are Delta Spirit, As Tall As Lions, and local artist who was formally called Vicious Starfish, but now their called The Black Arrows. My friend Victoria's hair salon she just barely opened. Changing Seasons Salon, 8846 S Redwood Road. She does one hell of a good job on cutting hair, her number is 801-560-4242, she'll give you a hell of a scalp massage with every haircut and shampoo is included as well. Its nice to get that after a long day of work. Also HAPPY BIRTHDAY VICTORIA!!!!!! And last thing, a big thank you to Gavin for everything he does for the local scene, as well as everyone else that has helped me along the way so far. Thank You!