We asked the general manager of Trinity’s radio station a few questions to get to know him better.
by Susie P. Gonzalez
Sound is everything to JJ Lopez, general manager of listener-supported KRTU at Trinity University. In fact, there is no sound that he doesn’t like, but he loves music and sharing music. A companion to music is dancing, which he believes is the fountain of youth. To learn more, read on.
What do you like best about managing KRTU?
Managing KRTU allows me the opportunity to work with passionate, committed, and intelligent individuals. I get to work with Trinity students. I get to meet donors and supporters of KRTU and Trinity who are very, very passionate about education, music, and community work. The staff at KRTU, including the professors and faculty of the communication department, are some of the most interesting people I have ever had the privilege to meet, let alone consider colleagues. They are among the most committed people I have ever met, and they are inspiring. But there is also the music. I love music, and I love sharing music. In this capacity, KRTU satisfies my personal mission and my professional interests, and that’s important to me. I think that is why I prefer working in non-commercial educational radio—it’s the best of radio and the nonprofit sector.
How do you keep the sound fresh and keep expanding your audience?
We keep pace with the ever-changing and evolving landscape of new music. Jazz is always moving forward, and our Saturday program, Evolve, with host Barry Goettl features the latest recordings on the scene. Additionally, we ensure that at least once in every hour of jazz programing, we feature new music. Keeping track with new releases, new artists (local and national), and new ideas shaping jazz is very important and makes certain that we are presenting the living history of jazz. On the indie side, we have similar policies and programs in place. The world of independent rock and electronic music is very, very diverse, and we believe it is very important to keep track of what’s happening in new music.
How did you get involved in radio?
It started at KRTU! I am a DJ and have been performing and Dj’ing in San Antonio since 1995. Around 2006, then-Operations Manager Matt Fleeger saw me playing records at an event and approached me about KRTU. They had an open slot on Saturdays from 1-3 p.m. and needed a DJ who knew soul and jazz music—that’s me! A few visits to KRTU, a little training with Aaron Prado and Ryan Weber, and I was set. In August of 2007, I began the Diggin Deep Soul Shakedown as a community volunteer host. I still host that show every Saturday afternoon!
How often does KRTU have a fund drive, and why is this necessary?
As a non-commercial educational radio station, fundraising is critical to the overall survival of the organization. Member and business support, along with additional funding support from Trinity, make KRTU possible. Without that, there is no 91.7 FM. Two times out of the year, once in the fall and once in the spring, KRTU hosts on-air membership drives to raise necessary funds, welcome new members, and re-engage existing members.
Who inspires you and why?
My colleagues. I feel quite fortunate to work in an academic environment. I take great pride working with radio professionals and faculty who specialize in the field of communication. I truly love making great radio and working in a department that is advancing the fields of mass communication and digital media.
What profession other than yours would you like to attempt? Why?
I would like to try teaching. This semester (Spring 2018), I taught “Audio Production and Podcasting,” and I loved it! Trinity students are super bright, and they are very inquisitive. Over the course of the semester, we studied podcasting, and the students produced some really fun projects. At the end of the semester the real reward came when they completed their final projects and I was able to listen to them implement many of the ideas we studied. Some produced podcasts for their capstone and that was exciting. Overall, it was a rewarding experience and something I’d like to continue exploring.
What is your favorite sound? Least favorite?
My favorite sound is…. rushing river water? Oh, like in music? My favorite sound is jazz funk. Jazz musicians are highly trained and skilled musicians. Often their performance of a composition is executed with a precision that is often unparalleled in popular music. Funk music is, well, funky and loose and groovy. When jazz musicians perform funk music, the result is often a magical combination of grit and groove, precision and power and for that—I love it. I don’t have a least favorite sound. I love “sound” in general.
What are your favorite hobbies?
My favorite hobbies are dj’ing and dancing. I believe dance is the fountain of youth.
Where would you like to retire?
Near a coast, possibly in Mexico, possibly somewhere like Isla Mujeres off the coast of Cancun. That’s my wife’s favorite vacation spot. I could live there.