Radio DJ “Big Dog Ethan” digs up two awards


Kelly Stiles

Program manager of HSU’s radio station Ethan Schmidt receives two awards for Best DJ Personality in college radio.

“Big Dog Ethan” is a name that has brought award-winning entertainment to the airwaves of Arkadelphia and surrounding areas. Program manager of Henderson’s own radio station KSWH LP 102.5 FM The Pulse and sophomore communications and theater arts major Ethan Schmidt won the First Place award for Best DJ Personality at the 2020 CMA Audio and Film Festival. Schmidt won this award at the state and national level, meaning that he is considered not only the best college DJ in Ark., but in all of the United States.


“My biggest strength as a broadcaster is definitely the music stuff,” Schmidt said.


Schmidt hosts two weekly radio shows called “In One Ear” and “Small Stakes.” The “In One Ear” show is focused on pop culture subjects occurring from 11 am. The show typically includes light-hearted information about music, TV, movies, video games, and much more. Occasionally, though, Schmidt feels compelled to include deeper topics, especially when it relates to free speech.


“Everything you hear can go in one ear and out the other,” Schmidt said.


The “Small Stakes” show lends its name to the time at which it takes place as well as a favored song called “Small Stakes” by Spoon. Occurring every Fri. at 10:30 pm, the show occurs at a time when the Federal Communications Commission is more lenient on what is allowed on air.


“I jokingly refer to the FCC as the ‘Federal Censorship Commission,’” Schmidt said.


Since it is less likely that children would be listening to the radio between 10:30 pm and 6 am, this time called “safe harbor hours” is not monitored heavily for content that may be too harsh. This creates a space where Schmidt feels more comfortable talking about deep and complex issues often related to human rights and politics.


“I have a place where I feel I can express myself pretty freely,” Schmidt said.


Schmidt attributes much of his radio-hosting ability to being an active participant in several HSU plays and the founder of the Delf Improv Troupe. Participating in improv acting since he attended high school in St. Louis, Schmidt has gained the skill of quickly taking a topic and speaking extensively about it with ease. Also, in acting, the art of enunciating words is an important competency which translates well to a platform solely reliant upon sound.


“I feel like the stakes are a lot smaller because there are just not a lot of people listening,” Schmidt said.


Schmidt often commentates on his favorite music, playing music from bands such as Spoon and Beck. Some of his modes of inspiration for what he includes in his shows are the podcast “Secular Talk” by Kyle Kulinksi and the radio show “The Howard Stern Show.”


“I feel more compelled to go into radio broadcasting,” Schmidt said.


Even though Schmidt greatly enjoys both of his majors, he is leaning towards starting a career focused on his communications degree. While radio broadcasting is in decline, Schmidt feels as though it is a format that will last until everyone has cheap access to the internet, as radio connection is cheap and easy to obtain.


“I tend to ramble a little bit too much,” Schmidt said. “But with the radio, that’s actually good.”


One of the worst problems to have on radio is dead air, which is a term meaning complete silence. Dead air is considered bad, not only because the sole purpose of radio is to produce sound, but advertisers who could potentially provide money to a radio station see dead air as wasted money. Being ready to talk about anything at any time is a great skill for a radio DJ as this prevents dead air.


“I like that I can come on here and talk about anything that comes to mind,” Schmidt said.


As a sophomore, Schmidt has big plans for his future years working for KSWH. He wants to release more content online so that people can get a taste of The Pulse entertainment, causing them to want to listen to the station more often.


Click here to listen to The Oracle editor in chief Kelly Stiles interview Big Dog Ethan live on The Pulse radio station.