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Dyslexic DJ mixes it up at The ‘Burg

Alea Thorne, Staff Reporter - November 28, 2012

There is a new DJ in the ‘Burg. Sam Maupin, known as “Hands the Dyslexic DJ,” is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. On a regular day, Maupin can be seen signing to his deaf girlfriend.

“That’s where I got the name from,” Maupin said. “I’m always trying to use sign language in order to include her in the conversation.”

The rest of his DJ name has a more personal meaning to him. Maupin is dyslexic, which means he has trouble reading, dysgraphic, which means he has trouble writing, and dyscalculic, which means he has trouble with math.

Still, these learning disabilities don’t stop Maupin from succeeding.

At age 14, Maupin finally learned to read. Before he learned to read, letters and words had no meaning for him. Instead, Maupin learned words through talking.

“It’s interesting because with a learning disability your brain is wired differently,” Maupin said. “Letters and words were just there.”

It took doctors six years to diagnose Maupin with his disabilities. Each time he was tested, the results would be different. Finally, with neurological testing, doctors were able to determine that Maupin was dyslexic.

For Maupin, attending college was difficult at times. He first attended a community college for four years and then transferred to Central.

“I have to learn things over and over again or else I’m probably going to space and forget it,” Maupin said.

Maupin tries to read as little as possible because of how long it takes him. Instead Maupin uses the Center for Disability Services to get audio books as often as possible. Maupin still buys textbooks so he can follow along with the audio.

“There are times I just wanna open the window and toss it [the textbook] out,” Maupin said.

His strategy for learning in school is the same strategy he uses for his show. He looks at which CDs are playing by the pictures on the CD covers instead of reading the words to know who the artist is.

“I’m always looking at the CD track. If I accidentally look at the wrong thing I can play the wrong song,” Maupin said. “It’s a lot of playing by ear.”

Maupin uses a 360 voice machine that reads the script on air to him during the show. Maupin attempts to verbalize material multiple times before it plays on air.

“We are using in-the-studio recording technology that allows him to record without going over the air until he touches the button,” said Chris Hull general manager of 88.1 The ‘Burg.

Maupin said there’s still a lot of pressure to make sure he does not mess up during the show.

“If you mess up, it’s bad,” Maupin said. “You cannot afford to misquote people or say false facts.”

Maupin has wanted to be a DJ since he was 13. In high school, he was a DJ for Christian music. Now, he’s finally getting his dream of being a spin master of grunge music. Maupin is not sure if he will stick with being a DJ as a career choice.

Maupin said he has received a lot of support from his fellow staffers at the The ‘Burg.

“Sam is going to be a great addition, said Jessica Castaneda, broadcast technician II. “We’re excited to have him.”

Maupin’s new show, featuring Northwest grunge music, is every Tuesday night from 10 p.m. to midnight.

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