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Meet the DJs- Bill Cheves, “The World Beat”

Meet the DJs is a series where we get to know the people behind your favorite WRFL programs. WRFL has been running with a live in-studio DJ since 1988. One of those DJs who has helped to keep us running from the start is Bill Cheves. You can hear Bill’s show The World Beat on Sundays from 4-6pm.

How long have you been a WRFL DJ?

30 years.

Do you have any frequent guests or co-hosts? What’s your dynamic like?

For a number of years now I have split the show with Marc Heft. I feel that brings two different perspectives on the music being played on the show.

Why did you join WRFL?

Radio has been a big part of my life and when I heard of a new student/community radio station I thought it would be fun to be a part of that and to play things that may not be heard anywhere else.

What do you play on your show?

I play music from all over the world and from any time period.

Why do you play what you do on your show? What sparked that interest?

I have always loved to hear music that was new and maybe unfamiliar. When I traveled to the Caribbean, I picked up music from the islands I visited and heard and bought new styles of music in a number of languages. I then began to look for world music at record stores here in Lexington and when I would travel to larger cities. WRFL gave me the opportunity to share some of that music.

Who are some of your favorite musical artists?

I have lots of favorites and they change as I hear new things. My favorite band right now is Newen Afrobeat, a band out of Chile that plays afrobeat music made famous by Fela Kuti and add their own Latin flavor. Another new band I like is Rafiki Jazz from Sheffield, England. They are fronted by three women vocalists who sing in a number of languages such as Urdu, Punjabi, Hebrew, Hindi, Coptic, Mandinka and Wolof. They also play instruments from around the world ranging from the Caribbean steelpan, African sabar drums, the kora and the tabla from India. I always like Caribbean music like Kassav, a zouk band from Martinique who sing in Creole and the Burning Flames from Antigua, who play soca music.

What’s your process for planning your show?

I tend to create three sets for a show. I always start with a set of African music, end with a set of music from Central America, Latin America and the Caribbean and put a set of music from other locations in the middle. For the last half hour, I pull music from our world playbox. I usually have two or three shows in the works because I will find a song I like and build a set around it. If I have a set from that region already built, I throw it into another folder and will build another show from that.

What do you do outside of WRFL?

I am an avid reader usually have two or three books that I will be reading at the same time. I also look forward to any new season of Doctor Who.

Do you have a favorite memory of something that happened at WRFL, either during your show or at a WRFL event?

Being run out of the first studio by the police because of a fire alarm. I was trying to get something on the turntables and grab my bag of vinyl but left quickly when they suggested I may get arrested if I didn’t leave the building immediately.

What other WRFL shows/DJs do you like listening to? Why?

Psychedelicatessen. I’ve listened from the early days when Bear was the DJ and still enjoy the music being played. El Tren Latino, great latin music, what more needs to be said?

Can you share a story of an interaction with a listener of your show?

Just the gratification I felt when I got calls from listeners that are from other countries saying how they appreciated and enjoyed hearing music from their home.

What do you want listeners to take away from your show?

I hope I have been able play music that peaks someone’s interest and have them want to hear more music from different cultures.

What do you hope for the future of your show?

That it has created an interest around the area in world music and that there will continue to be a world music program when I am no longer at WRFL.

You can tune in to The World Beat with Bill Cheves on Sundays from 4-6pm on WRFL.

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