“The Witching Hour” is upon us — especially every other Wednesday night at 7 p.m. on Spark!.
With their radio show called “The Witching Hour” on Spark!, an independent media project that focuses on Syracuse music and stories out of the Westcott Community Center, practicing witches Jen Eldritch and Reina Apraez use their witchcraft as a conduit for women and other marginalized people’s empowerment. These Syracuse residents have constructed a radio program that combines their love of “witchy,” dark wave tunes and their passion for their practices, providing them with a platform to promote both.
Less than a year ago, after discovering that one of their friends had started a radio show, Apraez approached Eldritch about starting their own about witchcraft, Apraez said. The pair then filled out an application and was approved shortly after.
A typical segment of “The Witching Hour” centers around Eldritch and Apraez’s witchcraft and music preferences. Scripted beforehand, the show starts with an introduction to the topic, followed by rituals related to that topic, Apraez explained. And these themes can range from “Do it Yourself Spellcrafting” to a show dedicated to the Libra sign.
Then, Eldritch gives her astrological report and Apraez writes an affirmation, or intention that wills an idea out into the world, the pair explained. In between all of this, the pair normally plays music that either fits with the night’s theme or has been of particular interest to them, Apraez said. Recently, the pair played some Alvvays and Haim for their Libra-themed show.
And these affirmations at the end encompass much of what their show is about. “Divine inspiration from our earth, moon, stars, flower, fauna and fellow folk, seize our attentions, arouse our senses, heighten ourselves and our expressions,” Apraez said during an affirmation just a few weeks ago. “Choose to create from this inspiration with intention to strengthen ties of harmony, beauty and peace in our world,” she finished. With the opportunity to expand their knowledge and practices, the pair has spread ideas and intentions like these to the public to facilitate conversations about relevant topics like empowerment, sex positivity and environmentalism. All of which is a major source of catharsis and strength for Eldritch and Apraez, they said.
For Eldritch, her practices embolden her. “So you have to really believe in your own power to make that happen, and when you do magic and it works, that’s an incredibly powerful experience,” she said.
This combination of rituals and music is something that listener of the “The Witching Hour” Eileen Hollis appreciates. “I just think that it’s so empowering to me,” Hollis said of the radio program. “If you feel like you’re going through something, just having a really crappy day or crappy week, and you just feel off-kilter — listening to [their show] always makes me feel grounded.”
While the themes of “The Witching Hour” resonate with listeners, the music that Eldritch and Apraez play is also selected to uplift those who feel disempowered. Nearly every song that the pair plays is femme-fronted and identifies as “witchy” or dark wave, Apraez said. Like a “spooky” new wave sound, dark wave is synth-oriented but with a heavy, trippy twist, they explained.
Some bands and artists that Eldritch and Apraez play on their show include: Mitski, Nina Simone and Girlpool, among others. Any music that expresses ideas of independence or self-determination has the potential to be played during the show, Apraez said.
To Spark! station manager Dana Bonn, there’s just nothing else like “The Witching Hour” on the radio. “How many other shows on witchcraft are there around?” Bonn pointed out. “We want to do something that’s different,” he continued.
Even though it’s different, “The Witching Hour” is genuine and stays true to Eldritch and Apraez. Their practices are deeply integrated into their daily lives and influence how they view the world, Eldritch said. Boundary work, they explained, is something they both implement often. Recently, Apraez layered cayenne and salt around the borders of her home for protection against a person she didn’t want to see, she recounted.
And since their teenage years, the pair has been learning about and working on their witchcraft, they said.
Their witchcraft is personal to them and an important part of their identities. “It isn’t just a performance at a certain time,” Apraez said. “We’re not just putting on our witch hats every Wednesday.”
This authenticity to their practices has drawn attention from the local community. “The Witching Hour” participated in the Westcott Art Trail and the Westcott Street Cultural Fair this year. There, the pair sold prints and tried to spread the word on their radio show, Eldritch said.
But these local fairs are just the beginning for “The Witching Hour.” They previously hosted a “Do it Yourself Spellcrafting Workshop” through the Fem Works Collective. The Fem Works Collective organizes workshops, parties and events where women can share their practices, ideas and artwork in a safe learning space, Apraez explained.
In the future, Eldritch and Apraez hope to host more workshops and dive into the magic that lives in Upstate New York for “The Witching Hour,” Apraez said.
Thinking about the future of “The Witching Hour,” listener Hollis is excited. “I think they’re going to go far. I just think they’re content is really good, they’re both wonderful people and they have a little bit of a following — and that’s just through Westcott Radio,” she said.