When it comes to the good old-fashioned radio dial, the place to turn for the latest local and national hip hop -- not to mention exclusive interviews with artists like Waka Flocka and Styles P -- isn't up the dial on one of the corporate-owned stations. It's the weekly Swaggnation show on Carnegie Mellon University's WRCT 88.3 FM.
Swaggnation, hosted by the team of DJ Goodnight and Swagg, has been around only a few months, but has already garnered a following and helped to banish any remaining notions that college radio is all awkward DJs and lo-fi indie rock.
Between booking shows and running 1Livevision Multimedia group, DJ Goodnight has spent nearly 15 years working to further the local hip-hop scene. After realizing how many talented artists weren't getting radio play, he decided to start his own Internet radio show (which won Pittsburgh Hip Hop Awards two years in a row). He took on Swagg as an intern in 2010 and soon suggested he start his own Internet show, which he did.
Things got a little complicated for Swagg after that. Finding himself in some trouble that resulted in a three-month jail stint, he spent his time listening to WRCT.
"I started putting together my plan while I was in jail," he remembers. "And when I got out, I went right down [to WRCT] and started training for my own show." Soon after, Swagg and DJ Goodnight -- who possess the kind of easy, complementary chemistry that all good co-hosts require -- kicked off their first terrestrial radio transmission. "We play all types of music," Swagg says. "[DJ Goodnight]'s old-school and I'm new-school and we bring that together."
The interviews, which DJ Goodnight is able to snag through various industry connections -- and which have included a particularly warm and entertaining conversation with Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa -- are what make Swaggnation something special.
While pleased with these accomplishments, DJ Goodnight is still excited for the chance to promote local hip hop. "Pittsburgh has a concentration of talent that a lot of other cites don't," he says. "I'd say out of every 10 [local] CDs I'm given, six of them are something that I would play."
Swaggnation airs live, midnight–6 a.m. every Sunday, on WRCT 88.3 FM or www.wrct.org.