Today at Berkeley Lab

Shreyas Cholia: Systems Engineer by Day, KALX DJ by Night

— By Keri Troutman


If you’ve tuned into KALX lately, UC Berkeley’s radio station, you may just have been enjoying the DJ sensibilities of Berkeley Lab’s Shreyas Cholia, a computational systems engineer who works jointly for CRD and NERSC. Cholia started as a volunteer at KALX in 2003, a year after joining the Lab, looking for a way to channel his love of music into an interesting extracurricular activity. Twelve years later, he’s hosting his own KALX show every other Tuesday night.

As for how he got involved in working at a radio station, Cholia says: “I’d always been really interested in music and had been DJing for friends’ parties and events,” says Cholia. “I was a longtime KALX listener and I really liked what they were doing.”

Cholia says that his work at KALX is a great creative outlet and also helps him stay on top of what’s happening in the music world. Each show is required to have at least three distinct genres, which requires Cholia and the other DJs to reach beyond a favorite type of music to create their playlists. Cholia discovers new music through his favorite blogs, magazines, and listening to internet radio and other college radio stations. His alma mater’s station at Rice University is one of his favorites; he also enjoys Stanford’s station.

“For my show I try to play a bit of Bollywood music, some electronica, some garage-y indie pop,” says Cholia, “I like finding music that crosses over from one genre to another; I’m not someone who likes to pigeon-hole myself into a certain type of music.”

Cholia says he used to spend a lot of time at record stores, perusing new and old, and going to local concerts. These days, married with a young daughter, he doesn’t do either of those as much as he used to, but he still manages to find time for his passion.

A recent playlist from one of his Tuesday night shows included some of Cholia’s favorite new music by a French artist named Colleen, which he describes as “minimalist electronica.” He’s also enjoying a lot of Bay Area musicians who are doing fun garage-pop music lately, including bands Burnt Palms and Piano Movers. Cholia reaches back into KALX’s immense music archives too—he’s recently rediscovered a band from the 80s, Young Marble Giants, that he’s really enjoying.

In addition to the music, Cholia enjoys the sense of community at KALX. “There’s a lot of passion there, as people are choosing to volunteer there in their free time,” he says. “There’s a pretty wide array of people—some are students at Cal right now, others have been there for a few years, others have been there since the late 80s.”

Cholia’s DJ name on KALX is “Shrey.” Tune in to 90.7 FM on alternate Tuesdays (his next show is July 28th from 9 p.m. to midnight ) to hear his show, or check out his playlist on the KALX website.

Do you know a Lab employee with a unique hobby or experience? If so, send information to [email protected].