Cougs Collect: KZUU head music director owns over 300 records

Ashlyn Taylor inherited music from four generations of family



Ashlyn Taylor, KZUU head music manager, in graduation regalia in front of the atrium.

GABRIELLE FELICIANO, Evergreen life editor

When she was 15 years old, Ashlyn Taylor’s grandmother gave her Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix — the greatest artists of her grandmother’s generation.

They were in the form of about 20 vinyl records, some of which were original pressings from each record’s initial release in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Six years later, Taylor’s collection has grown to over 300 records, with some of her favorites being Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” and Childish Gambino’s “Awaken, My Love!”

Senior anthropology major Taylor is the head music director of student-run radio station KZUU 90.7 FM and an organizer for the local music community union Palouse Music Community. She also runs a music blog she made called Fourth Fret.

Taylor said receiving the records allowed her to appreciate musicians before her and their music, as well as the evolution of music in general.

“Getting into their music in that way was really the spiral for me,” Taylor said.

Music runs in four generations of Taylor’s family. She said she grew up around music; her great-grandfather was a musician, and so is her uncle, who plays in heavy metal bands. Taylor, her brother, her parents and her grandparents on both sides of the family all have their own tastes in music, ranging from country to ‘80s pop, she said.

Taylor’s maternal grandmother Susan Lee, who gave Taylor her first records, introduced her to Jimi Hendrix when she was in elementary school. Taylor said she was going through a phase where she was “big into” electronic music, and her grandmother told her she would have loved the ‘70s and began to share stories from her time during the decade.

Taylor’s grandmother also introduced her to psychedelic rock and other musical staples of the ‘70s, before eventually passing her record collection down to Taylor.

“I think music is a love language in a lot of ways, and sharing things,” Taylor said. “So, [my grandmother] sharing her collection with me really inspired me to want to collect more but I’ve always really loved music, and listening to it, and that just grew into me collecting it.”

Her grandmother also gave a few of her records to Taylor’s brother Calvin (he/they), who now collects records too.

Taylor’s brother said Taylor introduced them to artists like Frank Ocean, Tyler the Creator and Mac DeMarco — artists he still really likes now.

“She’s always been finding new music and stuff like that for as long as I can remember,” they said.

Taylor joined KZUU as a DJ in fall 2021, her first semester at WSU, and has worked at KZUU ever since. She later became a music director before being promoted to head music director in fall 2022.

As head music director, Taylor oversees the music KZUU airs, works with the music directors, communicates with artists and manages KZUU’s website. Taylor said she decided to apply for head music director because she always had a passion for music and showing people things.

“It seemed fitting for me to be in a role where I was able to be the one source of communication for a lot of artists and music coming into our station and being able to make that accessible for our DJs,” Taylor said.

Caden Blessing, KZUU general manager and Taylor’s best friend, joined KZUU the same semester as Taylor and became general manager when she became head music director. Since then, Taylor has elevated the head music director’s role at KZUU, Blessing said. Now, the general manager and head music director work together on everything.

Taylor shows her love for KZUU by dedicating time and effort to her work every day, even though she does not have to as a volunteer, Blessing said.

“I don’t think I could have honestly had a better head [music director] this year,” Blessing said.

Taylor said she first got involved with local music in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, where she would attend the shows of local Portland-area artists to show her support.

Now, she works with local music collective Palouse Music Community to help organize live music events with other organizations like Cable 8 Productions, volunteering at some events and attending others.

After she graduates, Taylor said she plans to go back to Portland. Her goal is to work at a larger radio station or work with human bones as a human osteologist or forensic anthropologist, she said. Either way, Taylor said she hopes to continue writing for her blog and doing press under the Fourth Fret label.

“Since a lot of anthropology [covers] culture and how culture shapes you and just all these little niche things about the human experience and how we go about things, it’s really tied into music in the same way,” Taylor said. “Because music is a big part of people’s culture and the way that we navigate our way through life and the way we do things and think about things.”