By Mike Kelly
Kansas State Collegian
His voice is unmistakable and slowly becoming a Manhattan institution. It is not the typical baritone radio voice, but is familiar, light and conversational.
When sitting behind the microphone, Drew Bartlett truly shines. A senior in marketing, Bartlett is K-State radio. A former disc jockey, promotions worker, underwriting director and music director, Bartlett is the program director for KSDB-FM 91.9.
His dedication to the airwaves does not stop on campus. In addition to working as a DJ during his last three years of college, Bartlett is the evening voice of KACZ-FM 96.3 and the Saturday afternoon host on KMKF-FM 101.5.
Q: How did you bust into radio?
A: I grew up always listening to radio. I really liked radio. I came here and this station played the music that I like, and I walked in and saw a guy with a big, pink Mohawk, and he talked to me about the station. It wasn’t anything I was considering as a career. It was just something that was fun.
Q: Is being a program director all it’s cracked up to be?
A: It has its highs and its lows. Actually, I had more fun with the job when I was music director, because I was directly putting in what was the new music, where as now, it is kind of hard to take a hands-off approach and let my directors do what they want to do. But the good and the bad thing is that everything reflects on me, so I kind of have to handle the conflict and try to have people that will make the station sound good.
Q: What is your musical taste?
A: Well, I have a really wide musical taste that I listen to. I like a lot of old stuff. I like Bob Dylan. I love the Doors. But I really love 1990s alternative music. That’s probably my very favorite – grunge, post-grunge, basic alternative. But, I can really appreciate anything that has substance.
Q: Is it hard to play music you don’t personally enjoy?
A: That kind of goes to the fact that I can appreciate different types of music. Like, there can be some song that if I was making music I wouldn’t make, but it’s a good dance song, and I can appreciate that. There is going to be some stuff that I don’t like, but if it’s a song I don’t like, it doesn’t mean that it’s a song that the people listening don’t like. The job of a DJ is to make people want to keep listening, and once you realize that, the type of music doesn’t matter if you can appreciate what it is.
Q: Is it important to you that music always be a part of your career?
A: In my entire life, music has always been everything. I’ve always planned for music to be a part of my career. What I ultimately want to do is work for a record label doing A&R, which is artists and repertoire. Basically, we find the talent and bring them to the label. Eventually, I’d like to spur off and start my own kind of record label.
Q: What kind of label would you start?
A: Really, I would like to have a label that focuses on Midwestern acts. The central part of America does not get a lot of representation, and if you want to be signed by a major label, you have to move to L.A., but in Kansas City and St. Louis, there’s a really good music scene there, but the bands don’t ever get anywhere because they can’t pick up and move.
Q: Name three songs that define your personality.
A: “Hairspray Queen” by Nirvana – it really shows how Nirvana was a punk band. They got lumped into grunge, but they’re really melodic punk.
An Early Bob Dylan song – I really appreciate stuff that can be stripped down acoustically and still convey itself – the whole singer-songwriter thing.
“Slinky Girl” by 311 – upbeat, fun, but still having some lyrical quality in there.