I got to know Bobby pretty well during my senior year of university, and if I had to use three words to describe him they would be: innovative, motivated, open-minded, passionate, and basically a musical genius. Oh wait that’s more than three. Bobby re-built KSLU Radio from practically nothing, and is using his experience in the music world to pursue his passions. Find out what I mean in a phone interview with Bobby below!
Photo of Bobby Baird.
(phone interview transcript)
Debuccino: Hi Bobby, tell us a little about yourself (Education/Interest).
Bobby: Studying at SLU, going into my senior year. History major. Primarily interested in audio production.
Debuccino: In your words, what is music?
Bobby: Oh gosh, well a couple of things. Something that is therapeutic like everyday after coming home from class, work if I have pent up energy or bad day I would go and play and that’s fun. Also social, it’s fun to be in a band, and not only play with people around you, but also have people that you are working with. It’s like having people on a baseball team, playing to win the championships. It’s nice also to have the connections to say hey lets go to the bar and play. It’s also fun to study it. One of the most joyous experiences for me is when I read something or play something in a certain way and its like oh hey that’s why its like this because of this rule or property that makes it sound this way and I understand it.
Debuccino: You know at this point you’ve already answered around five of my questions right? You are too good at this!
Bobby: Haha that’s the best when that happens.
Debuccino: Exactly. So what type of music (genre/instrument) do you specialize in?
Bobby: My best instrument is the sax, been playing that the longest. The genre I know the most about is jazz. The music I’ve been writing, I don’t know if I would call it jazz, but it definitely has a vibe to it. When I write, I write bearing in mind the progressions that exist. On the more production end of things, jazz is really spontaneous and you have to improvise a lot, so when I produce stuff like that, most of the time, not always, the medleys that come out of production were like thought of and done that day. I went to a bunch of people and would say ‘sing something over this’, and see how it sounds. As far as technical production, I’m always improvising, pressing a button and seeing how it works. I go by what feels good. I feel like its kind of how it goes across the arts. I won’t follow a rulebook.
Debuccino: I feel like you might not be very good at baking then. With baking you need specific measurements and you tend to go by the book a lot haha.
Bobby: Actually I’m pretty good at cooking 🙂
Debuccino: Ohhh nice 🙂 So your production process is fairly versatile and spontaneous. That’s pretty neat. I know you have a bit of experience working in the music industry. Tell us a little about it.
Bobby: So I worked at NCPR and pretty much figured it out. I worked as a news intern, producing news stories. I’ve always been into music, but more specifically I was now interested in features and stories concerned with music. After the internship, I came back to school and started running this radio station called KSLU that’s been around since 1922. (Notes: WCAD started in 1922, which was KSLU’s predecessor, but eventually became KSLU). It’s one of the oldest college radio stations in country.
It was super sad originally; there was a lack of interest, little maintenance that had been done to the facility. I really consumed myself with trying to bring this station, and not only this station but also working with people in newspapers, to have a new outlook (21st century). Getting a lot of podcasts out there (produced by me) and working with the podcasting class. Got new computer, uploaded stuff on soundcloud and so on. I realized that due to the lack of use in space, I also had time to entrust it as a “private recording studio” encouraging to eventually become more of a public space. But since there wasn’t a lot of public activities, I, took advantage of it and produced a lot of songs.
Debuccino: Wow, that’s incredible Bobby. You were able to revive not only people’s interest in the station, but also improve equipment and bring it all up to date. Have you ever faced any challenges while doing all this (individually or while working with someone)?
Bobby: A newspaper I worked with, the Hill News, wanted to just print, and get things out in print. However, I wanted to work more digitally than print. So that was a challenge for me and what I wanted to do.
Debuccino: Oh wow, that can be tough when you have a conflict of interest. This is going really well! I want to switch gears a little bit and ask you something a little different. Do you think music can cross over into other subjects and disciplines? If yes, how so? If not, why not?
Bobby: Absolutely, with English you can look at lyrics, like poems. History looks at recording techniques, look at how that has evolved. Think about musicians are some of the key players in history. Look at Paul Simon and how he helps with Apartheid in South Africa. Even Bob Dylan. Think about music in terms of a scientific perspective. Look at the waves that are generated. The reasons why chords or songs sound good are because there are scientific properties that prove it.
Debuccino: That’s true! Are there any classes that you have taken outside of your discipline? What course(s)? Has it changed the way you perceive your own major?
Bobby: My major is History. Every music class I have ever taken has taught about the way I look at my major. I’ve also taken a journalism class, and that has changed how I write and view my writing. History looks at writing in a macro way, and journalism makes me look at how each sentence impacts the paper.
Debuccino: What is something that you want to achieve or bring to the campus during your next academic year at SLU?
Bobby: I want to produce a 10-song album, its definitely possible. And will help if I want to be a musician after school.
Debuccino: If it’s you I know you can do it! Is there anything that you would like to say? Words of encouragement for fellow music lovers looking to start their own band or radio show, podcast?
Bobby: Just go for it. What have you got to lose? Just follow what you love whether it’s music, art, even sports. Try to make a career out of what you love. Program or podcast wise, listen to what other people have done and try to make that your own. If you are listening to a good podcast see what they are doing. If you think you can do that there is no reason you should be trying to do that.
~ end interview ~
Thank you so much again Bobby for speaking and sharing your love for music with me!
Want to listen to some of this fine fellow’s work? Check out the links below: