KUMD DJ Rhys Finnegan wants Duluth to give "lefty weirdos" their due

Finnegan on occasion will play a vinyl record from his own collection on air. Photo by: Vincent Harvieux

Finnegan on occasion will play a vinyl record from his own collection on air. Photo by: Vincent Harvieux

On Wednesday nights, from 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., DJ Rhys can be heard at 103.3 FM KUMD. Rhys Finnegan has been involved with KUMD ever since he stepped foot on campus.

“I was a big fan of Radio K at the Twin Cities campus,” Finnegan said. “I had friends who worked there, so when I heard about KUMD I was really excited to be apart of it.”

Finnegan arrives at the studio at around 10 p.m. to prep what music he plans to play that day. KUMD has a library that is wall to wall CDs where Finnegan tries to pick what music he thinks that needs to be played. He thinks that he knows about 60 to 75 percent of all the music in the library. Finnegan also says that he tends to break the rules because he does not play as much newer music as he should.

“Not that have digs against new music,” Finnegan said, “but there’s a lot of music that I listen to which is really underground or left field, what I try to play is music that had a big impact on me and would do a good job for anyone who listens to the kind of music KUMD has.”

KUMD primarily plays indie music which Finnegan says is “basically my life.” He attributes his love of music to his dad.

“When I was a kid he did his part in showing me and my sister a lot of interesting music,” Finnegan said. “The fact that my dad had this music was the perfect scenario of like, this is exactly what I needed to be hearing as a kid. I got to be this musical weirdo because of this music that ended up in my life.”

Finnegan listened to a lot of alternative radio as a kid, which helped him find a passion in discovering new music.

Finnegan looks through the KUMD library to decide what he plays on the radio. Photo by: Vincent Harvieux

Finnegan looks through the KUMD library to decide what he plays on the radio. Photo by: Vincent Harvieux

“When you get that itch of looking for stuff that you haven’t heard of before,” Finnegan said, “that’s the exciting part about it. It’s like when people talk about finding treasure. And it’s like, this thing exists and no one’s heard about it and that gets me excited.”

Growing up in Shakopee, Finnegan says that it doesn’t have a large indie crowd. He says that he would hang out with pop punk people, but would get tired of hearing the same music.

Since coming to Duluth he has been able stretch his discovery muscles and express himself creatively, though not through his own creative work per se, but through his creative expression.

Finnegan used to be in a band with some friends, where he would write and record the music. They no longer play together since going to college, but now he wants to start one up again.

He said he got his guitar a while ago, but has been playing seriously for the past four to five years and is self taught.

“I was never a live show person,” Finnegan said, “but being able to watch shows like that and see photography of that stuff is mind boggling. There’s a lot of bands like Fugazee or Tera Melos, who have these insane live shows. People are flipping over with guitars and flying around and that looks insane and crazy and super exciting to me.”

Lenny Dagel is a sophomore at UMD, same as Finnegan, and friend who will usually come hangout with Finnegan during his show. Dagel thinks since becoming a DJ, Rhys has been expressing himself more.

“It helps him come out of his shell and be passionate about what he’s passionate about,” Dagel said, “And share that with whoever listens into the station. It’s neat to see him have an outlet that he can just completely nerd out in.”

Finnegan doesn’t do much talking over the radio. He has a script of promos he has to read, he will also state the weather at certain points. After a few songs he might give some background on the song and what album it came off of. Photo by: Vincent Harvieux

Finnegan doesn’t do much talking over the radio. He has a script of promos he has to read, he will also state the weather at certain points. After a few songs he might give some background on the song and what album it came off of. Photo by: Vincent Harvieux

Finnegan is in the process of changing from being a music student to becoming a marketing major. He still sees his future involving radio.

“There’s a path on the road, I think,” Finnegan said. “I’m definitely not planning on leaving KUMD anytime soon, I want to see this whole thing through and see what I can do. Once I got here it’s like this could be an exciting thing down the road.”

His dad has recommended that he get an internship at 89.3 The Current. Finnegan is a fan of The Current but still hasn’t decided on whether or not to apply.

Currently he only has one show a week, but is looking to get on the air more for the experience. He’s been trying to sub on a daytime show and KUMD has been looking for more daytime subs. Nothing has happened yet but Finnegan is still trying to become a sub.

Finnegan’s favorite part about DJing is getting a reaction to what he plays from people who listen in.

“My sister who’s going to the U right now,” Finnegan said, “she’s like ‘I’ll listen in, do you mind playing The Local Natives?’ I’m like sure and she lit up and was super excited. She was texting me oh my god, The Local Natives, just being able to get that out of people, true excitement, enjoyment out of what you’re doing makes me really happy.”

Even at KUMD, the staff have been very happy with Finnegan’s involvement with the radio station. The College Music Director, Mike Mayou said via email:

“Rhys always brings a smile to KUMD and music committee and has helped recruit new students to join the radio station. We are so happy to have him involved on-air as a DJ and in our music and marketing committees, among other things, at KUMD.”

Since becoming a DJ, Finnegan has be able to express his inner indie nerd where he wasn’t able to back when he was younger. It has also allowed him to further his passion for music discovery.

“KUMD was a great opportunity to be able to take this interest that I have and finally being able to express this interests that I’ve had for years.” Finnegan said.

CultureVincent Harvieux