Arthi and The Third Rail

By Maristela Romero
For Unwind Magazine

Summer downtime and winter breaks for Arthi Vijaykumar means getting in touch with local music artists for WMUC’s Third Rail live radio show.

Vijaykumar has taken on the responsibility of booking talented bands and solo artists for the past two years as live music director at the University of Maryland’s WMUC radio station.

The junior chemical engineering major first discovered WMUC at the First Look Fair during her freshman year and has been part of their team ever since.

“A lot of my friends at the time really loved their college radio station,” Vijaykumar said. “WMUC is kind of like a cult where everybody is really friendly and we all just love music, so it’s pretty cool.”

She took over as live music director after the previous director’s partner quit on short notice. Since then, Vijaykumar has brought local bands to the station’s airwaves with her personal favorites being Mock Identity, Palberta and Soul Cannon.

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Vijaykumar at work in the WMUC studio. Photo by Tilly Pecker

The Third Rail live show, which airs every Sunday night, has featured artists with growing popularity in previous years like Japanese-American indie artist Mitski.

“It would be awesome if people come out, it’s completely free,” she said.

Third Rail’s usual guests are punk and hardcore bands, although the show is open to playing all genres of music.

“We just contact a bunch of artists based on either people we’ve seen before as openers, a lot of local bands touring,” Vijaykumar said. “Or close by artists who’d be willing to come play at our station for a little bit.”

Vijaykumar also receives help with bookings from the assistant live music director James Lore, who joined WMUC after he was recommended to her by other executive board members to assume the position.

“I just think Arthi is very dedicated to what she does,” the junior English major said. “And she’s definitely holding the show together, I guess, and whenever we have stuff that goes wrong…she always has something planned to fix it. She’s just very knowledgeable about what she does.”

For Vijaykumar, her role at the radio station will likely become a fond memory of her college days rather than a viable option for her adult career.

“It’s one way or the other for all the past live directors,” she said. “For me…I’m definitely looking to go into a more STEM-y career, but that doesn’t mean I won’t wanna try to book more shows whenever, wherever I move… and create some sort of space for live music with all the skills that I’ve gained.“

When she’s not busy booking live shows, Vijaykumar listens to her own favorite blend of music from SOPHIE, Parquet Courts, Playboi Carti to Yves Tumor.

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