Rock DJ

Two turntables and a microphone have been constant companions for FM maven Julie Slater


Photograph by Dustin Snipes 

» “When I was 15, I became obsessed with rock stars, and I fell in love with Tom Petty. One year I baked a cake on his birthday. My mom took me aside and asked if she should be worried. I’ve always joked that she should have been worried.”

» Slater, 44, is a rock DJ at 100.3 FM the Sound and KCSN-FM (88.5). She spent 18 years in New York, 10 of which were at the same station as Howard Stern. When Stern moved to satellite radio in 2006, the station changed formats and fired its DJs. Slater came to L.A. soon after.

» “I started out in a tiny country station in Florida. I thought maybe I could become a receptionist or something. When I went to the station, the guy said, ‘We have this part-time DJ spot open.’ ” 

» Slater’s Saturday night gig—hosting her show, Out on a Limb, on noncommercial KCSN, which broadcasts from Cal State Northridge—is vastly different from her day job. KCSN reaches fewer than 100,000 listeners per week compared with the Sound’s 1.2 million, but she has much more latitude at KCSN. “Out on a Limb is anything I want to do. I have a segment called ‘Beard of the Day,’ and I highlight bearded bands.”

» A mainstay of L.A. radio since 1969, Jim Ladd spent 14 years at KLOS as the last commercial DJ in America with the freedom to play anything he wanted. He was fired in October. Weeks later Ladd announced he would be moving to satellite radio.

» When Slater was in New York, her station hosted an annual concert that attracted more than 10,000 listeners. “No one knows who you are as a DJ because they don’t know what you look like. But that one day you go onstage and you’re like, ‘Hey, everybody, I’m Julie Slater,’ the crowd goes crazy.”

» Female DJs are a rare breed. According to the Women’s Media Center, 86 percent of radio hosts are men.

» “When people hear you every day, they get a sense that they are your friend. Sometimes you have to say, ‘We don’t really know each other.’ ”

» Slater is a fan of Nic Harcourt, who spent ten years as KCRW’s music director and as host of Morning Becomes Eclectic. Coldplay, Death Cab for Cutie, and Norah Jones credit Harcourt for launching their careers.

» “My cat died while I was on the air. I started crying and then had to go on air and say, ‘So that was Elton John, everybody.’ No matter what mood you’re in, you have to be on.” 

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  • GwenP

    Nice article on Julie Slater! :)
    Wish I had connections to get 2 tkts for “Coldplay” @ Hollywood Bowl concert Tues