Boden Suzuki cofounded Earthbound Radio last year with ten volunteers in a Mira Mesa business park. Earthbound now has about 20 on-air deejays who play reggae, hip-hop, jazz, and soul music over the Internet.
To help with station expenses, Suzuki and the others launched SDTI (San Diego Turntable Institution), a program that teaches people how to be club deejays; students scratch and blend beats in two-hour classes held each week for six weeks.
"This is preparing someone to work in their industry of choice," says Suzuki. "Knowing how to deejay in a club is definitely a big thing."
The first semester drew 12 students; the second, 25. ("We started charging $150 per semester," says Suzuki.) By the time the current, third semester rolled around, the school boosted its tuition to keep up with demand. Currently there are 40 students paying $300 each; gross earnings of $12,000.
"I guess you could say this month changed everything," says Suzuki. "Everyone still has their day job.... We're taking care of our bills and adding new equipment. We've all invested three years into this. Up until now, station expenses came out of our pocket."
The next six-week program (www.twelvez.com/sdti) begins April 30.
Tonight, SDTI hosts a "Top 3 of SD" contest at the Epicentre. Eight to ten entrants in three different categories (deejay, MC, and B-Boy battle) compete for the top spot.