Boombox guy color photo- rafael gutierrez

We have all heard an upbeat tune blaring from the walking stereo on campus. But who is the man behind the music? Have you spoken to him? Do you know his name?

Garret “Kai” McGough is responsible for livening up the Sombrilla, providing a beat for walking to and from class and making the atmosphere around school a little more cheerful. As a freshman, the now junior criminal justice major would walk to and from class with his headphones on, wouldn’t talk to anyone, get his stuff done and go straight home.

“That was my life and I wasn’t really happy with it. I wasn’t being who I wanted to be,” McGough recalled. “So, when I got the stereo, I actually had no intention of bringing it. I actually didn’t even know what I was going to do with it. I just liked it and I bought it.”

Having moved too many times to count in 21 years, Kai considered himself great at making friends. He moved all over the country and wanted to come back to Texas; so, when meeting new people seemed to be so difficult at UTSA, that’s when the wheels started turning. Kai noted that “before, when I had been walking around with my headphones on, I’d always thought to myself, ‘what would it be like if other people would hear my music?’”

After contemplating what would be popular among the crowds, Kai decided to bring his stereo to school and play one of the tapes from his library for all to hear. The first song played was “Step Off” by Grand Master Flash and the Furious 5. “I don’t want to go so far as to say it was a social experiment, because I didn’t think that far into it,” McGough remarked. “I just kind of wanted to see how people would react.”

And react, they did. He thought he was going to look like a jerk —and still thinks there are people who may think he is one. However, Kai claims he probably would not have met his current group of friends if it weren’t for the stereo.

“It’s a social catalyst; it gets people talking, if not to me, at least to each other,” McGough said. His intentions are to bring a smile to tired students’ faces and provide some music that people may not have heard before.

When asked if he gets stopped often to answer questions about the stereo, Kai revealed that surprisingly few people actually inquire. “Those are the people I really respect — the people who are willing to come up to me,” McGough said. “People tell me I’m intimidating and…people tell me I look like I would be mean – and I’m not. I’m probably one of the least serious people.”Typically, people have been more likely to come up to Kai when he is spotted sitting stationary somewhere reading a book. Surprisingly, he gets questioned the most when he isn’t walking to class with his stereo perched on his shoulder. Mostly the questions include, “Where did you get it? What are you listening to? Half the time they want me to join their Bible study group,” McGough said chuckling.

“I have a wide range of music that I listen to in general, but generally what I play on the stereo is – for lack of a better term — something with a good beat,” McGough explained. “That’s often early 80s to mid-90s hip hop, electro, funk, a little bit of disco. I try to keep it a lot of times closer to what would be kind of boom box appropriate music. You won’t catch me playing country.”

When he’s not gaining notoriety by blaring his boom box on campus, Kai loves working on cars. “I myself have a 1980 Toyota Corolla that I’m halfway through rebuilding the motor on,” he said. Kai also enjoys outdoor activities like hiking and air soft. He works part-time at a pizza joint where he can take time off when the semester gets too hectic.

If you’re feeling friendly and want to strike up a conversation, Kai likes to stroll through the Applied Engineering and Technologies Building to study and the Sombrilla to hang out. Get to know the man behind the music.

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