Tim Dodge

Reference librarian
Ralph Brown Draughon Library

Tim Dodge is a reference librarian at Auburn University's Ralph Brown Draughon Library and a subject specialist in history and political science. Outside of the library, he is a DJ who goes by the stage name "Dr. Hepcat" at Auburn's student-run radio station WEGL 91.1 FM. Dr. Hepcat has brought his "slightly manic enthusiasm" to his radio show for 17 years. He has been a lifelong lover of music, playing piano since he was 9 years old and collecting records since he was 13. His show specializes in broadcasting vintage rock 'n' roll, rhythm and blues and related music. He attributes his long-term involvement at the radio station to his sheer enjoyment of playing the music and the kindness of the management at WEGL for allowing him to continue for this long.

1. What is the origin of the name Dr. Hepcat?

I was seeking a name that I thought might suggest to the listener something of the excitement of vintage (i.e., 1940s – 1950s) rock 'n' roll and rhythm and blues. Even though I came up with the name completely on my own, I was dismayed to discover a few years later that there actually had been another Dr. Hepcat before me. He was a late 1940s Texas R&B DJ whose real name was Lavada Durst. Interestingly, that Dr. Hepcat was also a piano player!

2. What made you decide to earn your Master of Library Sciences and become a librarian?

It was a surprisingly casual decision. In the summer of 1979, after I graduated with a history degree from Swarthmore College, my father suggested I needed to start thinking of a career. Up to that point I had enjoyed jobs such as cemetery maintenance man, shuttle bus driver and farm laborer, but I agreed that I needed something white collar and more substantial in terms of income. I remember thinking that as a college student I had enjoyed using the library. My father wisely suggested I speak to the director of a nearby academic library about librarianship as a career. Upon finding out that a Master of Library Science was needed to be a professional, I rapidly applied to the now-defunct School of Library Service at Columbia University and to my surprise, was accepted just in time to enter in September 1979, graduating with my M.L.S. in June 1980.

3. What do you think of the students entering Auburn now and the way they use the library versus when you started at Auburn?

Radically different in most cases. While there still are a few traditional book-oriented undergraduates, the majority now turn to the Internet first, usually via searches in Google. Even though the library has an ever-increasing array of electronic resources, including very important useful journal article databases and now hundreds of thousands of electronic books, it can be a challenge at times to convince today's students that the library actually can provide nearly everything they need for academic success and that, no, Google does not have "everything," especially when it comes to truly reliable, authoritative and scholarly materials.

It is my fervent hope and that of my Reference Department colleagues that our active program of library instruction can help educate students that the library is, if anything, more relevant and useful than ever to their academic endeavors in this electronic age.

4. Do you have any traditions or routines that you consistently bring to your WEGL broadcasts?

I always start off with a theme song. Right now it's "Tick Tock" by Marvin and Johnny from 1954. I usually keep a theme song anywhere from three to five years before moving to another one. Also, at approximately 30 minutes past each hour of the show I play a couple or so gospel records. I call this "Gospel Power by the Hour." Finally, as more and more of the great singers and musicians of the 1950s die, I have been featuring an obituary plus musical tribute on most of my shows in recent years. I read an obituary of the person and then, depending on how prolific their recording career was, I play anywhere from one to seven or eight records. In May I played 17 records by the late great blues singer and guitarist B.B. King, but that was exceptional.

5. How does your radio show relate to students?

Although this music is quite vintage, I've found that a lot of students take an interest in it. I'm often pleasantly surprised when I encounter a student who either asks me if I host a radio show on WEGL or, more mysteriously, who seems to already know who I am and who expresses an interest in the music. I think part of the appeal to students, and others, is the fact that I don't just play the big hits. There is just so very much wonderful early rock 'n' roll/R&B that just never made it for whatever reason and I like to feature this music because most of it is at least as good as the big hits and some of it is better. Students, I think, like hearing something unconventional, even if it is from their grandparents' era or earlier.

Last Updated: Nov. 23, 2015

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