A while back, I was driving in the evening and I turned on 95 Rock. Some guy was on there making a few cerebral comments about decency that made me smile, and then he slapped on a track that I loved. Then another, and so on. That guy was Sanj; a DJ with plenty to say, Sanj caters to those of who enjoy all kinds of rock and who also want to talk up a good topic. I asked him to open up about his love for Augusta, golf and polka.
Where are you from? And can you produce a long-form version of your birth-certificate for our records?
You know the state rules, so I can get you the short form…I was born and raised in Chicago and lived there for about 15 years, right outside of Reuben Field in the suburbs. I didn’t make my way down to Georgia until about ‘95/’96 – Mom got a job down here so we moved. I graduated from Greenbrier High School, went to Georgia Southern, graduated from there and came right back to Augusta.
Always in radio or is this your first gig?
I did it in college as a joke, actually; it wasn’t supposed to happen. My buddy was doing a radio show on Fridays and he was bored and I wasn’t doing anything, so I went up to the studio with him and we kinda did like a tag-team deal. He got bored with and left and I stayed on – did it for four years after that. I thought “this is fun, I like doing this”. My first show was a hip-hop show; you didn’t get to pick your genre until your senior year, so it was hip-hop, hip-hop and r & b, country, and then finally rock. But we couldn’t play top 40’s rock, so it was all the alternative stuff, plus if there was a good local band from like Statesboro or Athens I could play their stuff, which was cool. I had a lot of fun doing that. After that when I came here, Chuck (Williams) gave me a break.
So, why 95 Rock?
It’s the genre I like listening to and there’s, I guess you could say, a little bit more leeway to get away with what you want. Not to say there aren’t rules, Chuck has rules, but we all have fun together. And the ratings do reflect that, sure. Everyone’s got their own niche. Chuck’s all about the 90’s Nooner and here’s the music deal; you’ve got the Raw boys who are more about shock-comedy, Troy does metal and the Witching Hour and then there’s mine. I call it more a social commentary because I play music, but there is always something going on in my head that I want to talk about, so I do. I don’t know how to be funny, I just kinda bitch and moan about everything I’m looking at – I have an opinion on everything!
Jordan Zeh and Matt Stone gave you a hard time about being nice – you were known as the friendly everyday Indian – is that a vicious rumor, or are you a closet mean guy?
That came about because when I first started I needed to come up with something that everyone would recognize, so I started calling myself the friendly everyday Indian guy and I guess that’s stuck. Well, that’s fine. But when I started doing the night show, it became all about the 3rd Degree. I don’t mind!
What do you do when you aren’t on air? There was mention of a band somewhere…
I haven’t been a musician in a while; I just got married about a year ago and we bought a house, so now I’m doing the whole “adult” thing.
How’s that working out for you?
It sucks! It’s not exactly fun paying bills and stuff like that! But yeah, Matt Stone and I are golfers – I have only played for the last two years or so. I’m big into sports! Whenever possible we get outdoors, do some grilling, but not outdoorsy stuff like camping or anything – I’m a city guy. I’m not the most active person; I’ll go with you on the boat out at the lake, but I’m not going to jump on the jet skis!
We were your 1,000th friend on Facebook – why should people be your friend?
I try to make it as entertaining as possible, but I’m also the devil’s advocate at the same time. I will say something that people are thinking, just to start an argument. I would hope that those who have become my friend know that most of what I say is tongue in cheek, or just because. And when you go on there, there’s a thread that has 300 something posts about something completely stupid!
It’s a great way for me to tell people about local music, we (95 Rock) are always trying to sell out those shows; it also promotes my own show – I’m trying to be witty and entertaining and, if there’s something I think will make other people laugh, I’ll post it on there as well. It’s fun for me. I enjoy the social networking.
Name 3 things about Augusta that you love and 3 things you don’t so much:
I love the fact that Augustans want to be better. You know, they’ve always had this mentality that they are always stuck back-in-time and nobody cares, but if you talk to people, they are very optimistic. They want to see progress, look at downtown. In the past 15 – 20 years it has grown big time. They want to be the next event, I love that!
The first time I moved down here from Chicago, we were driving into our neighborhood and people were waving at us. And in the city, you just don’t make eye contact. So, people were waving and my sister and I were amazed. But I love that, if I’m walking along and see someone and say “hey”, that person will respond with “hey.” I always thought that was cool.
Last, I do like that Augusta is far more diverse than people give it credit for. With the transient people that come to the post and all the different cultures – Indian, Jewish, Muslim, Mexican, whatever – it’s all here. That’s what I like about Arts in the Heart, because you get to see it all then!
What I don’t like? It would be nice if the racial overtones would just go away. Seems like people bring it up more than it’s actually there, and that kinda bums me out because I don’t see the racism as much as other people think they do. I’m Indian; I’m more than a minority! If people would just stop worrying about it, it would go away.
The weather, yes. The heat here sucks. And the pollen, of course. But I can’t come up with anything else – I don’t have a third thing. I’ve adopted Augusta and I wouldn’t want to say anything bad about it.
What kind of music should be banned from all airwaves?
Polka? Well, that’s not really fair. If you look at what I am listening to, there’s Fear Factory which is a metal band, then I’ll have something like Mumford and Sons, and then Alison Krauss and then I’ll have Coheed and Cambria. My wife really likes hip-hop and rock; she’ll listen to Marilyn Manson and Lil’ Wayne. I’ve always enjoyed all.
Although, if there is one kind of music that I don’t want to hear on the radio, it’s that hardcore techno drum and bass. That’s awful and it doesn’t make any sense to me – it’s like you’re processing binary numbers in your head.
Which five bands should be mandatory listening for our readers?
Fear Factory, if you want the metal stuff. If you want to go concept, Coheed and Cambria which is great music, but you have to deal with that high-pitched kinda Geddy Lee voice. Foo Fighters is my favorite band in the entire world, they do slow songs, they do pop songs, aggressive songs, so they will be number one. Outkast is always going to be up there, it’s fun. You can work out to it, you can drive your car to it, you can go to the beach with it, and you can do whatever you want. And then last, Rob Zombie – he always seems to fit everything.
Is there a particular song that makes you feel justified in doing what you do? As in, every time you play a particular track, you think, “yeah, this is absolutely what it’s all about”?
It’s a cop-out again, because it would be anything Foo Fighters. Anytime I play them I’m good! It’s like that question, “if you could be in any band, dead or alive, which would it be?” Foo Fighters, absolutely!
What about our local music scene – is it thriving, or is the best yet to come?
I’m extremely supportive of it, if something’s coming up I want people to tell me about it so I can mention it on my show. It’s definitely getting better. Now they actually have venues to play – 1102, the Playground, Sky City, Soul Bar, Stillwater. They are giving all kinds of people an opportunity to play and it’s fun! I think it will get better as long as the competitions stop. Local musicians should not be competing against one another like in the readers’ polls of local media; they should be helping each other out, there shouldn’t be competition at all!
Is there anything you would like to say to our military men and women?
They should get the respect of everyone who sees them; if they don’t, they should because they are choosing this profession. These men and women are making a choice to be part of this – a lot of people take that decision for granted and they shouldn’t. And they make this city what it is, if you don’t believe it you need to open your eyes.
The thing that sucks is the lack of a shuttle or something; for service members that are here for a short time, who don’t have a car, and they have to walk to get out – that’s crap. But no, we always raise our glasses to the men and women in uniform; they are fighting for the greatest country in the world. Thank you.
Listen to Sanj on 95 Rock, Monday to Friday 7–10 p.m. and Saturday 3-7 p.m.