About 5 years ago, a visitor came by our studio. A super friendly, engaging sales rep from semi-local radio station WRHT. After introducing herself, she asked if I happened to know much about Country Music. I chuckled a bit as I answered in the affirmative (Willie Nelson’s “Mama’s Don’t let your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys” and Roger Miller’s “You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd” were the closest thing to nursery songs I’d ever heard as a kid). The rest of the conversation revolved around me helping judge a Texaco Showdown event radio station WRHT hosted (these were nationally held talent search type events not unlike current day America’s Got Talent). As it turned out, I was able to help not only judge, but also promote the event. Part of that promotion was done through live segments on the Raeford Brown Morning Show where I would join the show hosts and talk about the great local talent appearing in the Texaco Showdown, and then I’d usually perform a song on air, just me and my acoustic guitar. After the Showdown came and went, the folks from Raeford’s morning show contacted me and expressed how much the live music had added a good vibe to their show and they kindly invited me to come by the show anytime I liked. After a few months of occasionally sitting in on the show, a co-host (Deedee Daube, if I recall correctly) suggested we do a regular weekly live music segment. Admittedly, a similar idea had entered my thoughts as I had been getting the feel for the live radio experience so yes, I was immediately interested.
I will add a little aside here and state that I was, at that time, a little uncertain about my performing career. Local venues were slim pickings and they mostly booked cover bands anyways, while I have always been more passionate about original works. There just weren’t many promising chances for a singer songwriter around and I had truly considered backing out of doing shows and focusing solely on teaching. This opportunity to do live radio seemed to add a whole new avenue for me as a musician. And to be honest, I had always been drawn to live radio shows. Prairie Home Companion and The John Boy and Billy Big Show had both captured my imagination as a long time listener.
So, obviously, I ended up taking the offer and set my sights on inviting our North Carolina artists in for a chance to reach a broad audience through FM radio. I started making lists of prospective radio acts, looking for the unique especially. If an artist was good but only played the stuff you could hear at a club every weekend, I passed them by. I was intent, right or wrong, on bringing something different to the FM radio audience. I think this stemmed from growing up in an area dominated by a handful of stations that all played the same songs. It also was due I’m sure, to my dad, Earl Jones, raising me on stories of Border Radio back in the mid 1900’s where anything bizarre that would attract listeners was fair game for radio shows. While not getting too far off the beaten path, I did enlist Americana artists, Reggae bands, Bluegrass pickers and vintage Rockabilly acts. The segment came to be known as “Music Monday” airing each Monday morning, weekly. We commanded the airwaves for 30 minutes of our guests performing live and being interviewed about their musical journey. And we did indeed showcase our NC music community, as well as welcoming a few nationally touring artists to the show: Sundance Head, winner of The Voice; Jamie Lin Wilson of the Texas music scene; Jeff Hall of The Drifters; Nature Blu; Adam Hood, Harvey Dalton Arnold, and Catesby Jones just to name a few.
So many great moments have taken place on Music Monday segments. Watching 89 year old Charlie Albertson smile and sing; young Singer-Songwriters like Faith Bardill taking original songs to the airwaves; Christian Rock band, One Promise ministering through hard-hitting rock grooves. Don’t ask me what my favorite moment would be! It has been a truly eye-opening experience. I have also developed many friendships through the show, and hopefully helped develop our music community in our state. One thing I have certainly learned about radio biz; it’s always changing. No telling what’s around the corner for the live music segments but I hope we hear more of the diverse North Carolina artistry across the airwaves in the coming years. Music is for sharing. Radio allows us to share and engage a listener’s imagination all at once. That’s the kind of thing I hope to be part of for a long, long time.
Tune in for your share of the live music vibe sometime.
For details on when and where to catch our segments, email john at firstname.lastname@example.org