Good Vibes and Sick Beats: The legacy of DJ DeSmet

DJ DeSmet wearing marshmallow mask holding a jukebox out the DeSmet third story window.
DJ DeSmet

March 18, 2024
Jack Talbott (’24)

It starts with a faint thumping of bass or the notes of a catchy chorus, but as you get closer to DeSmet Hall, the sounds of DJ DeSmet become clear. During the day, music booms from the third-story window of DeSmet Hall – Gonzaga’s oldest dorm near the center of campus – serenading passersby with hit after hit. 

Whether heading to class, the COG or just passing through, it is impossible to ignore this staple of Gonzaga campus culture.

Many students have called themselves DJ Desmet over the years, with the baton passed nearly every school year. With each new DJ comes new music, new ideas and maybe even new equipment. Past DJs have dealt in radios and boomboxes, but the current-day DJ DeSmet is granted an almost two-foot-tall speaker to blast favorite playlists out their window from August to May.

Many years ago, the role of DJ DeSmet belonged to whoever was playing music out the window. One day, it may have been a second-year student on the fourth floor, the next, a first year on the second floor. There was not much structure, in fact, the name DJ DeSmet started as a campus nickname.

Since those days, the role has evolved to more of a consistent setup. The last few iterations of DJ DeSmet have all resided in room 316, positioned conveniently on the South end of DeSmet facing the John J. Hemmingson Center.

No classrooms directly face the speaker and most of the sound echos off of four-story Welch Hall, a mere 200 feet across from DeSmet. Most of the sound lands on Bulldog Alley, the main walkway of campus, and bounces between Hemmingson, DeSmet and the Foley Lawn.

The role of DJ is not assigned by pure chance but by careful consideration by the residents and leadership within DeSmet.

Every year is different and approached in a new way. Generally, the music selection is broad with a neat blend of hits mixed with the DJ's personal flair. In some years, the DJ keeps a low profile, with only a select few knowing his real identity. In other years, the DJ is well known for sharing playlists and taking recommendations daily. Whatever the case, it is always a big deal when DJ DeSmet plays the first song of the year.

That is all thanks to Gonzaga’s personal DJ.

Go behind the scenes with DJ DeSmet in this rare video interview

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