Radio shows have historically provided its listeners with a way to stay in the loop about current events, while also providing a source of entertainment where people can detach from the stresses of daily life.
Woke Radio is a radio show that aims to do just that. Aswan Carbonell, a senior majoring in political science and minoring in entrepreneurship and music is the host and creator of Woke Radio. The show went on air this semester, and airs every Thursday from 10pm-12am on one of Rutgers own channels, WRSU. Carbonell brings on various students within the Rutgers community to talk about their lives and the ways in which they have persevered through challenges that may have come their way.
“Out of every interview, I want people to deliver a message, not to necessarily highlight the individual for what they are doing, but how they are doing it.”
The idea for the show began with Carbonell’s participation in the Rutgers Entrepreneurial Academy of Leadership (R.E.A.L) program, led by entrepreneurship Professor Alfred Blake. R.E.A.L is a selective program for students who have an interest in pursuing entrepreneurship. The students in the program are given the opportunity to construct an idea of a project. Carbonell initially came up with the idea of creating a platform in which he could share his love for music. His professor, however, challenged him to take his idea further, which is how the idea for Woke Radio was first sparked.
“The purpose of the show is to inspire people more than it is to highlight anything that I do or anybody that I bring on…I bring on people to talk about what they are doing today and any strides they are taking to try and change the world or make it a better place…I ask them personal questions so that anyone is able to identify with the feelings and situations they get into and realize that we are in the same boat.”
The show actually began to solidify when Carbonell realized that his project could become something real. He studied all summer, made a proposal, and drafted ideas for different shows. He passed a test that all radio hosts at WRSU must take, did a practice show off air, and Woke Radio was approved! An idea meant for a project was suddenly a reality.
“It was the first thing that came to mind when thinking about what I wanted to name the show, I just wanted to wake people up.”
What was really important to Carbonell in creating the show was to inspire others and to get all of us to use our creativity. He also wanted the show to be grounded in the three R’s: respect for ourself, respect for others and responsibility for your actions. It was really important for him to have a show that carried a deep meaning because he feels that modern radio has lost a lot of its depth.
“I touch on heavy topics that people might not like to talk about, but are things that need to be talked about. Things like self-love and self-awareness. [I want to] get people thinking rather than them always being told something…I don’t like how the radio doesn’t talk about the really important things that are going on in the world and how the important things don’t make headlines.”
Woke Radio talks about the real issues we all face, whether they are within our personal lives or about the social justice issues that are currently prevalent.
Often times when people go through challenges, it can become easy to get stuck in an attitude of feeling discouraged. This is especially prevalent during college when stress levels are high and the pressure to perform well can be stifling. Woke Radio provides two hours of uplifting content so that even in the midst of discouragement or stress, listeners can be reinvigorated by the stories of fellow students.
“At Rutgers, I have met a lot of different groups of people… and it’s just a mini globe. Rutgers gives me a sample of the world and what the world is looking for, and it shows that we are looking for the same thing. One, [we are looking for] peace of mind, and two, to make sure that we will be okay tomorrow. Today might have sucked for XYZ reason; everybody will go through something [negative] throughout their life, but no matter what, people look towards tomorrow and for a way to get out. It may take some people longer than others, but that’s what I want to give with WOKE Radio. It’s hope. And Rutgers is a perfect place to do that because there are people willing to listen and there are a lot of people who are on the same mission.”
The process of starting a new radio show has not been easy and Carbonell has already learned a few things. One of his insights is that marketing and utilizing social media can be really hard and promoting the show to the student body has been a challenge:“I don’t really ever know who’s listening, but my audience is anyone who is willing to listen.” Another transformative moment for the show happened when Carbonell decided to stop pre-writing all of his shows.“Not everything goes as planned. Shows one through three were nerve wracking because I had already written them to be ahead. But honestly, it was worse when I had everything scripted.” Of course, when first beginning anything, it is best to be prepared because nerves can sometimes get the best of us. “I was nervous; if you are not nervous, you don’t really care. I just wanted everything to sound right.”
However, as the nerves wore off, Carbonell realized that his performance was a lot better if he relaxed. “Last week we went in there without a script and I got a lot of positive feedback so I have learned that sometimes it’s better to go with the flow.” He has previous experience with public speaking especially throughout high school, but the show has given him a comfortability with listening. He has learned how to listen to others in a way that allows him to understand what they are truly saying which is a skill he hopes to carry into his career after college. In his future career as a public figure or a politician, he hopes to be able to listen to others effectively so that he can create changes that are truly beneficial.
Woke Radio along with its uplifting guests also plays awesome music from alternative artists like Sampha to hip-hop music and even The Beatles. Carbonell tries to diversify his playlists while also playing artists that may not be widely played on the radio. When you tune in, definitely expect to hear some awesome songs you may not have heard before.
Carbonell invites anyone to listen for great music and a great time and wants to leave students with this inspirational message about navigating life when things may not be so easy: “I’m freaking out about this huge roller coaster called life, but we really have to be as present as possible on the ride and be happy that you’re on the ride. And I want you guys to understand that you’re not alone in this. You turn to your right and you turn to your left and everyone is going through the same things just in different situations and places. And I want to be your conscience, telling you ‘hey its gonna be okay’ through the things we talk about while also soothing your mind with music to get you feeling good about yourself…
When you finish a show I want you to feel good about yourself and walk away smiling.”
Listen to Woke Radio on Soundcloud for the recordings of all the shows.