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The Soundtrack of Giving: WKDU’s Electronic Music Marathon

For the first time in seven years, Drexel’s student-run radio station WKDU 91.7 FM is bringing back its Electronic Music Marathon (EMM) fundraising event for this upcoming Columbus Day weekend. Drexel DJs will host local DJs while raising donations for two local arts education nonprofit organizations.

“We decided to bring back the EMM this year out of sheer ambition,” Chris Burrell, the electronic director of WKDU and an adjunct professor in the LeBow College of Business, said. “WKDU has an amazing executive staff right
now, and interest in electronic music has never been higher. We said, ‘why not!?’”

Since it was started 11 years ago, the marathon has raised thousands of dollars for local charities. And even though the electronic music genre has morphed and expanded since then, the goal of the event has remained the same.

“We have a fairly robust public service announcement program this year, where we have reached out to support the causes that matter to our listeners and community,” Burrell said. “We actually polled all our DJs to rank the causes they cared about most, and arts education was the one that was ranked #1.”

This year, the money raised will mostly be split between Musicopia and Village of Arts and Humanities, two nonprofits based in Philly. A portion of the funds will also go towards covering operating costs for the radio station.

On Saturday, members of Muscicopia, which pays for performing arts leaders to teach at schools lacking music education programs, will discuss their work and bring in student acts to perform and chat on air. One band of students from Andrew Jackson Elementary School, Home, will even perform. On Monday, members of Village of Arts and Humanities will also be on hand to talk about their work and why the donations matter.

To raise funds, WKDU is accepting donations through its secure website, which will not incur any processing and transaction fees like Kickstarter and other donation campaigns. Many local venues, record stores and restaurants have contributed items that DJs will give out on air while encouraging people to donate.

In addition to listener donations, the participating DJs will also contribute in some way, such as waiving their normal appearance fees or donating promotional items or monetary gifts.

According to Burrell, the EMM is the perfect way to give back to the city’s music scene, while also celebrating the music genre and it’s place in Philadelphia.

“Philly actually has a very rich history in the house and techno scenes of the ‘90s, with artists like King Britt and Josh Wink creating chart topping hits for the seminal Strictly Rhythm label,” he said.

King Britt will join others like DJ Apt One, Dave P of Making Time and Les Professionnels in the EMM lineup. The Drexel DJs will also be spinning all types of electronic music, including house, techno, disco and electronica.

WKDU’s staff.

“We have a ton of different styles represented over the course of the weekend, so we try and pair similar sounds together,” Burrell said. “We also have an emphasis on local DJs, and those that spin music in the original spirit of dance music!”.

In other words, don’t expect any Skrillex. As Philadelphia’s only free-format, non-commercial FM station, WKDU will avoid what Burrell considers “the more commercial ‘EDM’ sounds that dominate the headlines at this point.”

“We want to represent the underground whenever possible to support the artists that should be more well known,” he said.

During the marathon, live DJs will spin nonstop from noon to 4 a.m. each day, and guest mixes will air outside of those times.

The EMM will be broadcasted on the air and on a live stream online. Additional information and giveaways will be released on the station’s Twitter and Instagram accounts during the event. Details and time slot registration can be found on the WKDU website.

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