Updated: Sep 3, 2021
When I go to meet Julia Lubey, BC ’18, they are seated on the second floor of the Diana center, fully consumed in their work, just like the rest of campus in midterm season. Amidst the crowd of busy workers, I can spot the quarter notes scribbled on the pages that cover their table. Their over-sized, over-ear headphones are fitting for any prominent radio DJ. Lubey is a co-general manager for WBAR, whose love for radio is matched only by her humility. They tell me that they’ve been with WBAR since their first year at Barnard, but when I ask about their leadership, they give only a smile and a shrug. “I never expected to end up in this position of leadership, but here I am for my third semester.”
Lubey’s long-term involvement with WBAR has allowed them full view of its immense growth in recent years. Previously programming six hours of content a day, WBAR has ballooned to a full 24/7 internet radio station, while bringing on new DJs and fresh perspectives. The unprecedented growth has not all been easy, as the club still operates out of a dingy, if well- loved, basement room on Barnard’s campus. The space has character and history, but Lubey hopes that WBAR will get a larger space in the new Milstein Center to accommodate the club’s growing needs. While many of their fondest memories involve stuffing ten friends into the studio that only comfortably holds a couple of people, they admit, “The grunge vibe impedes when you have asthma and you’re just trying to hang out.” Lubey can no longer realistically hope to listen to every show the club programs, as much as they’d love to, but the station’s growth has also created an opportunity for a change they believe is a long time coming.
The forefront of the club’s new agenda is a concerted effort to increase the diversity of both staff and content. WBAR is making strides in better representing their DJs’ identities, the campus’ identities, and the wealth of diverse music out there waiting for radio attention. They look forward to passing on the torch to the staff members coming behind them because they have confidence in the community that they helped mold. Lubey is excited for the club, but they admit, “I’ll be happy to finally step down because I’ve been there for so long…I’m white…and I play indie rock.”
Barnard was an obvious choice for them when choosing where they wanted to go to college. “New York was a place I wanted to be for the music scene,” they say. Lubey has enjoyed the music scene off campus, and they have played a critical role in making that community its most vibrant self on campus. Their favorite and most essential responsibility as a general manager at WBAR is scheduling and organizing the club’s concerts. Their favorite show to date is the “Goth Prom,” held last fall. “During the final performers’ set I was sitting in the corner and thinking…this is what I wanted WBAR to be: full of people, good music, and everybody being super involved and engaged with the event,” Lubey says.
When Lubey imagines their life after college they hope, “I’ll probably stay in New York … and hang out at WBAR all the time.” They hope to work full-time for Columbia’s youth summer programs that they helped lead for three years running. The position allows them access to the community they have created in the city, with its vibrant music on and off campus. Lubey has accepted the fact that they have to let WBAR grow and develop on its own now, but they will be front row at future shows, beaming with pride.