How to support the David Berman Memorial Fund at WTJU

We are pleased to announce the creation of the David Berman Memorial Fund for the benefit of WTJU.

The fund is the station’s first endowment and will help support high-impact student experiences at WTJU 91.1 FM and WXTJ 100.1 FM. The fund is named in honor of former WTJU DJ David Berman (’89) who died in August 2019, leaving a rich legacy in the arts as a poet and songwriter.

“When the idea to create this fund came about, it made sense to name it in honor of David,” said WTJU General Manager Nathan Moore. “He embodied the spirit of what we try to do each day at the station – creating community, sharing creative voices, and nourishing curiosity in the arts. Many of the relationships David formed at the station contributed to his tremendous career as a writer and musician.”

Berman was an Echols Scholar who graduated in 1989. While at UVA, he lived in the “Red House” on 14th Street with fellow WTJU DJs and musicians. There he formed his first band, Ectoslavia, whose alumni include members of the bands Pavement and Yo La Tengo. David went on to start his own band, Silver Jews, which released six albums noted for their wry humor and lyrical brilliance. His final release, under the moniker Purple Mountains, came out in early 2019 to widespread critical acclaim. David was also a gifted poet who studied in the MFA program at University of Massachusetts and published an anthology of poems called Actual Air.

Friend, fellow WTJU DJ, and Rolling Stone columnist Rob Sheffield wrote that David was one of rock’s great songwriters of the past 30 years — “His kindness was wiser than his darkness, and he seemed to know that. The music he left behind was his kindness, or at least the version he put his heart and soul into sharing with the world. The world was lucky to have him for a while, holding us to our word.”

Alumni Andy & Liz Stepanian provided a seed gift to the fund and have offered to match gifts through June 2024. For more information on the match program, please contact Jay Nottingham or John Pond.

“As a student, I tuned in to WTJU because it was always a place to hear alternative music. I still have cassette tapes of some WTJU programs I recorded back in the early 90s,” said Andy Stepanian. “As a musician myself, I understand the importance of community radio, particularly in a college setting, as a mechanism for proliferating music and viewpoints which are generally ignored by the mainstream airwaves.

“We are excited to help start this endowment as a way to create a bedrock of funds for WTJU’s future. In turn, we wanted to pay homage to David Berman and honor his contribution to WTJU, the University and the world. I have been a fan of his work for a long time and I am hopeful WTJU and the community it creates will inspire others like him in some small way,” added Andy.

Stephen Malkmus, Pavement frontman and David’s former roommate, said that WTJU was essential to his college experience — “As a member of the Charlottesville community, it made my life better. The programming is super diverse. I learned so much from my colleagues, just driving around town listening to whatever they were playing.”

Bob Nastanovich (L) and David Berman (R) in 1989

Bob Nastanovich, fellow Pavement member and close friend of David, echoed this sentiment. “After I earned my own time slot on WTJU, the station became the most enjoyable aspect of my University experience. It was vital to my love of music listening and also the hub of my social life. I heard so many wonderful things that were new to me – both from WTJU’s record library and listening to my esteemed colleagues’ great shows.”

Please consider making a donation to keep David’s legacy alive for future generations of creative young people at WTJU. Click here to make a gift.

Annual giving is critical for the station but it fluctuates from year-to-year. This endowed fund will provide perpetual, dependable income to support the station and its mission.


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