FLYER Q&A: Navigating college radio with KXUA’s ever-present Lydia Fletcher

The UA's radio station manager talks about DJ management, community engagement and cat fame.
KXUA 88.3FM station manager Lydia Fletcher (Courtesy photo)

KXUA 88.3FM student radio has been especially active lately. This is because station manager Lydia Fletcher somehow manages to be everywhere all the time.

Besides the Herculean task of managing the largest number of DJs in the station’s 23-year history, Lydia has been representing KXUA in person at events across Northwest Arkansas and partnering with local shows to expand the station’s audience. She also has an internet famous cat, Toph.

Lydia was involved as a DJ in the first AMMPlify NWA festival at Mount Sequoyah Center, and has taken a larger role promoting the upcoming collaborative show with HopOut DIY, set for this Sunday, Oct. 8 at George’s Majestic Lounge.

The show features Modeling, Peach Blush, Sad Palomino, Chrono Wizard and Second Life. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online or at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m. with music starting at 8 p.m.

I talked to Lydia about all this:

Hi Lydia. Happy October! How do you like the Fall in Fayetteville?

Fall is one of my favorite seasons! The leaves here are much more vibrant and there’s always so much to do, especially with the semester now in full swing.

You’re the station manager of KXUA. What’s happening this semester at the station? Any new shows you’re excited about?

There is so much happening at KXUA. We’ve started partnering with local events which is really exciting, and recently grew to having over 60 DJs! With so many new DJs it’s hard to pick a favorite show, but we have some new electronica shows I’m excited about as well as one very existential show called “Songs for a Motel Shower.” That one should be good for anyone to experience liminal spaces through audio.

What are the biggest challenges of working in college radio?

Honestly, learning to be a manager of my peers has been a really interesting process. Most of the people I work with are my age, and so I have to balance the boss-friend relationships. Also time management! No one tells you about all the little things that come with being a manager. This job has honestly been amazing, but I swear I could write a guidebook on college radio management after this experience.

Tell us about your show. What have you been playing lately?

So my show is called “Fresh Finds.” It airs every Friday at 1 p.m. and I feature what I call “the latest and greatest in new music.” The whole point is to try and find songs that were recently released and go so far as to do radio premieres. My latest favorites have been Cherry Glazerr’s new album “I Don’t Want You Anymore” and Mitski’s latest, “The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We.”

Lydia Fletcher (Courtesy)

You’re a promoter of the Sunday, Oct, 8 show at George’s Majestic Lounge. Will KXUA have a table at the show? How can people get in touch about having KXUA promote or be a part of an event?

So, I am hoping we’ll have a table to hand out stickers and flyers. Regardless, I am always happy to talk about the station, so feel free to come up and ask if you’re at the show.

We’re super excited to be working with more people throughout NWA’s music industry and to be attending more events. Bucket Brigade is the third event will be attending, so even though it’s a newer experience for us, we love having the opportunities.

If you’re interested in having your event promoted you can always reach out to [email protected] or DM us on Instagram @KXUA. We have a lot of different offerings for promotions through our social media and website, so as long as it’s music or community-related, we can find something that works for you.

You recently interned as a features writer at Tulsa World. How was that experience?

I absolutely loved Tulsa. Though it was a little hard managing a radio station and working full-time in Tulsa this summer, it was such a rewarding experience. I wrote a series on the film incentive program in Oklahoma and investigated how different communities were implementing it, and then I have two articles releasing soon about the upcoming film, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which was filmed entirely in Oklahoma.
I also had the chance to interview Zach Bryan’s dad and attend one of Zach Bryan’s hometown shows. If you know me, you know I’m not really a country girl, but I had to make an exception for this. It was the only music-related story I wrote during my 10 weeks there, so it was nice to get out of my comfort zone.

Outside of KXUA, what have you been working on lately?

Honestly, because it’s my last semester of school, I’ve been really focused on wrapping up my undergraduate studies. I’m currently working on an independent study about how newspapers are surviving in a digital age and the future of print media. I’d love to go to graduate school eventually and turn it into a thesis one day.

What are your favorite places to see live music in Northwest Arkansas? Are there any Fall shows you’re planning to see?

My first show was at George’s, so obviously that’s one of my favorites. I also really enjoy Walmart AMP as I find outdoor shows to be really fun. I’m seeing Spiritbox open for Papa Roach and Shinedown on Oct. 5, and then seeing Bully play at George’s on Oct. 25 as well. Other than that I don’t have too much planned. Local shows aren’t always planned majorly in advance, so sometimes going to shows is a spur-of-the-moment decision.

Are you a fan of horror films? What are your favorites? Or if not, what are you watching instead?

Although I love Halloween, I’m a huge fraidy cat, so my Halloween movie choices lean more towards “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” “Corpse Bride,” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” I know the last one is not exactly a Halloween movie, but I always associate it with Fall. I always have a ton of Halloween decorations, so I’m really looking forward to decorating this year.

Your cat is internet-famous! How did that happen and how can we follow your cat on TikTok?

So it was actually so random. My cat, Toph, loves watching TV and makes a very weird chirp while watching it. One day I decided to video it and post it to TikTok and the video got hundreds of thousands of views. I remember I posted it semi-late night, and woke up the next morning to an almost-dead phone, as it couldn’t fully charge because of all the notifications. Now she gets #TVTuesday and watches movies and shows each week. People still love it, and I’ve got two other cats I post on there sometimes as well. You can find us on TikTok under Tophs.World!

What are your plans for 2024?

So I just put in my first “big-girl” job application! I’m hoping to either be working in public relations and tourism or as a journalist specializing in arts and entertainment. I’m currently embracing not fully knowing the plan and being open to opportunities that come my way. I’ll still be in Northwest Arkansas for sure, so y’all don’t have to worry about me going anywhere!