IN KEEPING with our regular spotlight of the DJs that make WRUU the best community radio station around, we chatted this week with Troy Stoner. Stoner is the host of Sound Limit, which can be heard on 107.5 FM or streaming at wruu.org
What's your history in terms of radio, and your interest in community radio in particular?
I played trumpet in high school, and my parents had zero musical abilities. I did that for a while and met a friend who got me into electronic music. We bought a drum machine and a Korg Triton and started making music together, and that kind of developed. We said, "Let's take this further," and developed our education at Full Sail University for audio engineering. I graduated and went to New York to work in recording studios. I did that for a yearand a half, New York got expensive, and so I moved back to the South.
I met a lady in Savannah and came over this way, but the whole time I was still making music. One thing I realized as I got older and into oddball music, is that any time I travelled I’d scan the radio and look for noncommercial songs and stations. When I went to Seattle I discovered KEXP, and in Tallahassee where I’m from I’d listen to the community station there.
So how did you end up at WRUU?
My lady was actually at Graveface a couple of years ago, and overheard Dave Lake talk about how they were starting a radio station and were looking for DJs. My wife said, “Hey, my husband would be interested.” I got Dave’s information, and took it from there!
It seems that you’ve always had an interest in radio, even just peripherally?
Yeah, through music in general. I don’t know if you know Giles Peterson, he’s a BBC radio host. He’s a huge influence on me. We have similar taste, and I listen to his show pretty regularly. He does that kind of down-tempo, trip-hoppy, jazz/neo soul kind of vibe.
What was the initial concept of Sound Limit, and how has it evolved?
I originally started the show as kind of a trip-hop, down tempo kind of electronic kind of thing. It was meant to be an all-electronic show, but it progressed towards indie rock with some electronic [elements], and world music with electronic. But it was all gearing around noncommercial electronic music. It kind of changes with the season, too. I feel like I'm more happy-go-lucky in the summertime, and then when it's cold you want to hear more ambient and heady music.
It’s definitely evolved, but it still revolves around electronic music.
It has that central theme to it.
Yeah, for sure.
What have you learned so far from doing this, in terms of the challenges and successes of radio and what it takes to do it?
Early on, it was pretty scary for the first month. Just because you’re talking to yourself, which is really weird. I joked initially that I wanted to get a cardboard cutout or a mannequin so it would make me more comfortable with talking to myself. It was a challenge to overcome, but it’s made me more confident in speaking.
Looking for music every week can be a challenge, too. Some weeks I’ll be very proactive and put a themed show together, but the weekly digging for music can be a chore occasionally. But it’s also great because you’re constantly finding really cool stuff that you wouldn’t normally find. That constant push to look for new music has been really great. In the process, too, having listened to so much variety in music makes you constantly want that variety all the time.
It’s a beast that you have to feed, but it also kind of forces you to keep looking.