"I don't call it "underground.' I just call it my music."
So says DJ Sachamo of the hip-hop that listeners can expect on "Illfonix," the weekly radio show he hosts on Jazz 88 (88.3-FM). In a city where the airwaves are saturated with corporate conglomerates looping tired playlists every 40 minutes, Sach and his staff work hard to bring variety, depth and local flavor.
"That's what the whole feel of real hip-hop is-having a good time while making you think about what's going on in the world," Sachamo says of the show, which airs every Wednesday night from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Corporate control of media outlets has reached epidemic levels since President Clinton and Congress deregulated ownership of the airwaves in 1996. Radio diversity-and, some would argue, free speech-faces particularly dire straits in San Diego. Due to our proximity to Mexico, FCC regulations, which reserve bandwidth for low-power stations below 92.0 on the FM dial, are subverted by major stations, such as 91X and Jammin' Z90, which place gluttonous mega-transmitters just across the border.
As Sach says, "Compared to most major cities, San Diego radio is not good. I am trying to point out to listeners that, "Hey, there's more out there.'"
Some might wonder how "Illfonix" fits into the programming of Jazz 88, a station respected nationwide for its traditional jazz-only format. "Our motto is, "Descendant of mother jazz, spilling into genres of soul, hip-hop, house and spoken word,'" the DJ explains.
The show regularly hosts rappers, DJs and live musicians, including local acts like The Greyboy All Stars. Sach is quick to point out that "Illfonix," which had its third anniversary in August, is not a product of one: "It's not about me at all. I have a staff-a writer, an editor, a spiritual advisor. If you surround yourself with good people, there isn't anything you can't do. "
"We have the worst time slot on the worst day," he continues, "but we are getting good ratings and more people are listening all the time."
Though Jazz 88 is a comfortable home, Sach-who put himself through college as a mix-show DJ on Power 92, the commercial hip-hop station in Phoenix-paid his dues in getting the station to accept the show. "I submitted my proposal [to Jazz 88] every week for a year," he says.
He got his foot in the door when he met a professor at San Diego City College, where the station is administered. Even after "Illfonix" was accepted, Sach and his staff needed to prove themselves.
"They gave me a lot of grief," he says. "They were afraid of hip-hop. They look at what they see on TV, they hear what's on commercial radio, and it's crap music. It's nursery rhymes. There's no soul in it. You can't blame them. We had to prove that we were different."To hear the difference, tune in. Or visit www.illfonix.com.