Beat it, kid: The music-filled life of a seventh-grade radio DJ


Rewon Shimray, Staff Writer

Three-week old baby Juliane Smouse, held in the arms of her parents, rocked side to side at a Patsy Cline Tribute concert at Strathmore Hall in Maryland.

Juliane Smouse, a seventh grader who goes by her middle name, Castle, was nurtured by her parents and raised to the sway of music.

Smouse’s father had a radio show called Rancho del Ray Co-Op, and in the first grade, Smouse began going on the air with him. In fourth grade, Smouse hosted KOOP 91.7 FM by herself, going by the name DJ Castle. A couple weeks ago, she was able to relive the experience at the same radio station.

“I was really nervous before, because it had been a while since I had been on the radio,” Smouse said.

Although there was a slight miscalculation in the number of songs that had to be played, Smouse said the show “turned out really well.”

“I’m not great at math,” Smouse said. “When you do it live, you need to make sure everything fits in the time frame that you have.”

The preparation for hosting the radio not only includes addition and time approximations, but also a written script. To transition between songs, Smouse includes extra information such as the name of the artist and year of release. She said speaking on a live broadcast makes her nervous. Smouse compared the experience to that of public speaking.

“I think doing it on the radio where you don’t have to look at a bunch of people’s faces is easier,” Smouse said. “It helps me, because I know there are people listening, but I don’t really have to look at them, so I’m not as nervous.”

Starting off with “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and His Comets in 1955, and finishing with “Maxine” by John Legend in 2006, listeners were brought through a time-lapse of rock music.

“I own a lot of music, so I look at all my CD’s and see which ones would go best together,” Smouse said.

Smouse learns about the varieties of music produced as well as how to produce her own. In addition to singing, she also plays the piano, drums and ukulele.

“I have two guitars, but I still don’t really [know how to play]–I mean, I know a couple chords– but I’m going to start taking guitar lessons,” Smouse said.

For Smouse, music is an escape from her frustrations and an anchor for her wandering mind. She said that listening to music helps her tune out her surroundings and stay focused.

“The other day, I was out in the yard and I was raking the leaves. I kept getting distracted, like ‘Hey Mom, can I go ride my skateboard?’ and so I listened to ‘Work’ [by Rihanna] as I did yard work,” Smouse said.

From writing personal compositions on the piano to blasting headphones with Rihanna, Smouse surrounds herself with music. In the melodies and beats of song, she has built up herself a fortress, in which she is able to momentarily reside… under the name DJ Castle.