As webmaster and social media director for KCR College Radio, I thought it would be a great idea to take our web content to the next level. So I created Sunday Spotlight as a way for our listeners to get to know us DJs on a more personal level, behind the mic. Today, we debuted our first feature with longtime member, Joe Shrin, who has been a part of KCR for nearly 40 years. Thanks Joe for all your hard work in KCR and for speaking with me. I hope you all enjoy his story.
It all began in the summer of ’76, when Joe Shrin had first joined KCR. Although he was already in the midst of doing a radio show at San Diego City College for KSDS FM Jazz 88, Joe found the perfect opportunity to extend his talent to San Diego State University when he, by pure chance, came across a commercial for KCR.
“I really craved doing radio,” he says.
So he put together an audition tape, took a chance and the rest is history.
Back then, DJs were required to perform a minimum four-hour-long set, had their music logged and critiqued, and played what Joe says was called “alternative music.” Like most college radio stations, KCR played more underground and unknown artists than mainstream radio did.
Also at that time, music was played via cassette tapes and what was known as “reel-to-reel” – two reels of the same size, one full of audiotape and the other was empty. As music played, the tape would transfer from one reel to the other and the reels would have to be replaced with another before the tape ran out completely.
And nearly 40 years later, in a world where iPods and laptops have replaced cassette tapes and reels, Joe says it is the change in technology that has impressed him the most.
“I’m just amazed by the technology evolution,” he says. “And it’s good. I don’t yearn for the old days of spinning records because it’s cumbersome.”
The change in times and technology was also quite apparent in a conversation Joe had before.
“I talked to somebody about a 45,” he remembers. “And they thought it was a gun. I said, ‘No. It’s a record.’”
Although he’s witnessed many changes in KCR and radio in general, one thing has remained the same for Joe throughout the years: it was always about having fun.
After a brief stint at KIFM, where directors told him how to be and what to play, it didn’t take long for Joe to realize where he felt the most comfortable.
“I tried to do commercial radio but I didn’t like it,” he says. “I actually quit which was unheard of in those days. But I did radio for fun.”
Since then, Joe hasn’t strayed too far from his KCR roots. Even today, he hosts his show, The Joe Shrin Show, every Saturday morning, from 6 – 10 a.m., where he still plays some of his favorite artists including Sergio Mendes and Brazil ’66, The Dave Clark Five, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and The Doors.
Looking back on his time at KCR, Joe says some of his fondest memories are the KCR parties in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, where both staff and members came together and had a good time. He says that although not every DJ hung out with the other on a regular basis, they all shared camaraderie through KCR, “like a built-in set of friends.”
“One thing I feel good about is knowing how well a lot of the alumni have done successfully in the radio and music business,” he says.
Joe notes the success of several KCR alumni such as Mort Marcus (co-founder of syndication company Debmar-Mercury) and Keith Royer (Executive Vice President of Rincon Broadcasting), respectively.
He also acknowledges the success of another longtime KCR member, Skot Norton, whose dedication to a fading KCR during the ‘80s helped save the station.
“If it wasn’t for Skot, we wouldn’t have a studio,” Joe says. “Skot Norton is the man; he gets all the credit. He kept us afloat.”
It’s that same enthusiasm that Joe sees in the current KCR staff that keeps him hopeful about KCR’s future.
“I like the direction the station is heading,” he says. “I really do see even more good things happening, thanks to the enthusiasm of the current staff.”
Joe adds, “I feel great being associated with this place and I love my show more by the week. There is never a week that I don’t want to come in. My proudest thing is that I’m still invited here to do a show – I consider it a privilege more than a right just by longevity.”
Outside of KCR, Joe is the father of Carla (an SDSU alumna) and grandfather to three-year-old Payton. Both beauties are displayed proudly on the inside of the briefcase full of music that Joe keeps by his side during broadcasts.