Nurse moonlights as DJ for WFDU

By Rebecca Maxon

June 10, 2020 — “Soul, vintage rhythm and blues, Motown, deep Memphis soul, and rare and forgotten oldies: I play the music that generated popular hits,” says Renita “Retro Ruby” Farkas, a DJ on WFDU (FM) 89.1.

A woman sits behind a WFDU microphone.

Renita Farkas, or “Retro Ruby” on WFDU.

The Retro Ruby Show airs Fridays, from 4-7 p.m., on WFDU’s HD2 channel and features a unique blend of 50s, 60s, and 70s rhythm and blues and soul with a dance emphasis. “Many dance styles were created or evolved during those decades,” she adds.

When she’s not on air, Farkas works as a registered nurse in a management position, conducting home wellness visits, health teaching, assessments and doing consulting and crisis intervention for adults who are severely persistently mentally impaired.

Her clients, who tend to live in group homes, shared apartments or individual apartments are “a fragile population who are dealing with disruption in their lives, since the outbreak of COVID-19, like the majority of us,” says Farkas.

“Structure and routine promote a feeling of wellbeing. The challenge is to give them a sense of empowerment, a feeling of safety and security. I reinforce safety and infection control precautions and the need for self-care (nutrition, rest, wearing masks, practicing social distance and hand washing).”

It is not always easy to get her messages across. “It requires ongoing prompts, reminders, supervision and direct assistance to help in maintaining an optimal level of functioning.” She also notes that her patient population also has a high degree of pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and respiratory illness, putting them at greater danger from the coronavirus.

Going to WFDU every Friday afternoon provides much needed change of pace and environment for Farkas. Though WFDU’s live studio is temporarily closed because of COVID-19, many of its programs are still being played on a pre-recorded basis. “I am using my creative skills when I program my Retro Ruby shows.”

Many DJs are producing their programs from home with assistance from Kenny O’Boyle, general manager of WFDU, and Tony Smith, longtime DJ.

When she can be in the studio, Farkas also assists Smith on his “Pop-Lock-It, Soul-Sock-It, Retro-Rock-It Radio” show on Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. “Being in the presence of multi-talented Tony Smith is always a treat,” she says. “His listeners are very special and unique. I enjoy conversing and taking their song requests. It is one big happy family on Tony’s show!”

Farkas is looking forward to getting back into the live studio as soon as it’s safe.

“Being in the WFDU studio is a physical and mental respite for me. Music is an invigorating and a healing modality,” Farkas says. “That is something we could all use these days.” So turn it up!

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