A spoon dipped into a bowl of soup, with the letters noodle (probably spaghetti-o) lined up in the word
Greenberg has been interested in radio since high school and now serves as music director for USC’s KXSC. (Photo courtesy of Jackie Greenberg)

In the Internet age, and especially in a city as vibrant as Los Angeles, the air is constantly buzzing with music. Where previous generations might have only heard live performances or radio singles produced in bits and pieces, we now live seconds away from more new songs than we could ever hope to hear. In this endless ocean of sound, rather than feeling overwhelmed or lost, Jackie Greenberg finds potential for life’s most sincere connections.

“Everyone says that mathematics is the universal language. No, it’s music — I don’t know how to do math,” Greenberg said with a laugh. “Music can bring so many people together, in ways that are simply indescribable.”

Greenberg, a senior majoring in creative writing and music director for USC’s KXSC, has done just that — harnessing the connecting power of music through her Internet radio show, “Jackie’s Trackies.” In just two years of hosting the weekly radio hour, Greenberg has expanded its reach thirtyfold while cultivating a tight-knit community of listeners.

A longtime fan of indie music, Greenberg has devoted her extracurricular attention exclusively to music curation since she was in high school—at Harvard Westlake in LA, Greenberg worked at the school’s KHWS station, where the show’s skills and name were built .

While in her freshman year at the University of Portland, Greenberg had her job as assistant music director at the school’s KDUP station cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’ve always been interested in radio. I did it in high school for two years, so I got there,” she said. “[But] once COVID hit, I knew I wanted to start my job because I didn’t know when I would be back in Portland.”

With newfound time and old passion, Greenberg began to launch her new project, matching the technical difficulties with a very medium creativity, evident after landing on the website and exploring Greenberg’s original art and poetry.

“I originally bought my domain name in January 2020 as a birthday present and it took me until March to get the design and layout done. It was definitely just trial and error in getting it done,” she said.

It also took time for Greenberg to settle into the show’s format. Although Jackie’s Trackies is now a weekly one-hour broadcast, it began in spring 2020 as multiple broadcasts per week of a longer program.

“In 2020, when it was the height of COVID, I had all the time in the world, and I was [using the server’s] free trial, which means you can stream 24 hours a day,” Greenberg said. “So of course it would go from two to four hours, but once I started getting a routine and a typical crowd, I kept that in just one hour.”

Greenberg said that while her work in radio has always been “more of a hobby than anything else,” she feels it fulfills an important role in her life and in society. While the widespread availability of streaming services has limited the extent to which listeners rely on radio to discover new music, Greenberg has used the project to explore how curation can still be immensely enriching, if not for music discovery. , then about connecting with audiences — something she’s also experienced with her role on KXSC.

“‘Jackie’s Trackies’ is kind of my free reign; I can choose what I want, find as much music or as little music as I want, and I know that the music I choose, I’m giving directly to the audience that tunes in every week,” she said. “But [at] KXSC, I sift through thousands of emails of new music submissions and have to pick, not necessarily the best of the best, but something that’s good enough for college radio.”

Greenberg has found a home at KXSC not only because it provides an additional platform for curating music, but also because he prioritizes personal connections, both with listeners and his staff.

“This is literally the only club I’m a part of at USC, and it’s the one thing I was most excited about when I first moved in,” she said. “It’s just a perfect fit, and I love the people I meet at the station.”

KXSC general manager Spencer Churchill echoed Greenberg’s thoughts on curating in the digital age. As the duo of music director and assistant music director last year, Churchill and Greenberg spent countless hours digging through thousands of live submissions and online spaces every week to find brand new music for KXSC listeners.

“In my opinion, nobody is learning about anything over the radio anymore,” said Churchill, who now serves as KXSC’s general manager. “But sometimes people don’t want to pick what gets played, and people want to hear other people’s taste, so I think it’s less about breaking new artists and more about showing people your taste. It’s more about the personality behind it.”

In the case of Jackie’s Trackies, Greenberg’s ability to inject her broadcasts with personality is part of the reason her online community has grown so quickly. And according to Churchill, in addition to being “just fantastic with listening to music,” that quality makes her independent endeavor even more special.

“It’s a really unique way to build an online community,” Churchill said. “I’ve never seen anyone else have such an online presence, alone.

The unique qualities of the broadcast are evident to new listeners, but more evident to the longtime audience of “Jackie’s Trackies” who, over time, have grown sincere friendships through their similar tastes. On the Jackie’s Trackies Discord channel, which Greenberg launched this February, listeners-turned-friends talk and play games late into the night, comparing Last.fms and competing to find track titles.

“As someone who didn’t really have any friends other than two of my closest friends, having the power to use music in a way that brings people together is really cool,” Greenberg said. “[Music is] such a good way to make friends – it’s one of the most universal things in the world.”

Members of Greenberg’s community reflect similar sentiments. Aiden Brady, a senior majoring in journalism, noted that even as a first-time listener in the spring of 2021, he felt personally welcomed.

“I think Jackie did a really good job of creating a tight-knit community where everyone feels welcome and included in the conversation,” Brady said. “From the first time I joined, she welcomes you by name. She asks how everyone is. She talks about her personal life. It feels like, right from the nudity, it feels like she’s a friend.”

For Greenberg and the listeners of her program, these feelings are as important as the musical recommendations. She doesn’t just curate her favorite songs every week – she curates a community.

“It means the world to me. “Every time I go live and see 16-20 people there, I’m like, ‘Oh shit, people actually want to hear my voice, people want to hear my music,'” Greenberg said. “Knowing that I have the ability to curate a community and make it a loving, friendly environment where people love to come back and people feel like they have an almost safe space is one of the sweetest feelings in the world. “

Jackie’s Trackies airs every Wednesday at 5pm PST on jackiestrackies.com.

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