WXRY-FM: Amplifying the Voices of Our Community

I’ll never forget the day that WXRY (FM 99.3) came on the air. They had been promoting the station for a few weeks in print ads that billed this new listening option as “The Independent Alternative.” They caught my attention with the assertion that this was the music that my generation listened to in college (i.e. early to mid 1990s).

Considering that WXRY launched on St. Patrick’s Day with a 24-hour marathon of only music by Irish rock band U2 (my personal favorite), it seems appropriate that the station is now a client of the 24-hour pro bono marathon that is CreateAthon.

What many people didn’t realize when it first began, and some may still not know, is that WXRY is an independent, nonprofit, public radio station. When you hear “public radio,” you more often think of NPR or a university-owned radio station. In fact, according to WXRY’s President and General Manager Steve Varholy, nonprofit public radio is the fastest growing segment of radio because of the quality and independence of the programming. They have the freedom to play what they want to play when they want to play it.

WXRY is owned by The Independent Media Foundation, a local 501(c)(3) foundation, and it is programmed by a small staff of professionals and volunteers who are longtime residents of the Columbia area. In a landscape that is increasing dominated by corporate-owned media conglomerates, it is refreshing to have a truly local voice in town, especially one that is committed to the community and not to shareholders.

Naomi Sargent of Columbia Opportunity Resource during a taping of The Buzz, one of WXRY's regular segments promoting community activities and involvement.

Naomi Sargent of Columbia Opportunity Resource during a taping of The Buzz, one of WXRY’s regular segments promoting community activities and involvement.

WXRY’s business model is completely different from any other radio station in town, and intentionally so. Their mission is “great radio that builds and serves your community.” Their goal is to get real community voices on the air and to serve as a catalyst for growth and renewal in the Columbia area by shining a light on all of the great things that are happening in our city.

Our work for WXRY during CreateAthon will focus on the development of materials to help them expand their FM frequencies and service area as well as build additional studio and office space. Meeting these goals will enable the station to continue to increase its engagement not only on the air, but also in person.

During CreateAthon, just as I do every other day, I’ll be streaming www.wxryfm.org at my desk and rocking out to the best alternative tunes of yesterday and today, knowing that by supporting this nonprofit media outlet, I’m also supporting all of the other nonprofits in my community whose voices they amplify.

On dream concerts.

What would your dream concert be?

Kevin Smith
Crowded House
- Venue: Outdoor park
- Weather: 70 degrees and sunny
- Me: With friends, under a shade tree, picnic blanket, wine

Julie Turner
An acoustic Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett show in a field on a Texas cattle ranch.

Kevin Archie
1. Sufjan Stevens at the Palmetto Compress Warehouse (after I have it converted to a restaurant/bar/music venue).
2. Fleet Foxes around a campfire in a wooded clearing next to a creek at dusk.
3. This.

Will Weatherly
Whiskeytown, Allman Brothers, Stevie Nicks, Rouge Wave…this is impossible. I’m waking up now, thank you.

Ryon Edwards
Simon & Garfunkel with First Aid Kit and a surprise visit by the Clash and David Bowie. Whoaa!

Cathy Monetti
Festival. Outside.
I wouldn’t survive it, but here goes:

Shawn Colvin (open)
Jeffery Foucault (set 2)
Emmylou Harris (set 3)
Patti Griffin (set 4)
Bonnie Raitt (set 5)
Sheryl Crow (set 6)
Sting (set 7)

+various and sundry combos of the above, as they come and go.

On summer songs

What song says summer to you?

Cathy Monetti
Grapefruit — Juicy Fruit by Jimmy Buffett

Kevin Archie
Summer 2012 = Gold Canary by Cloud Control
Any given summer = Naive Melody by Talking Heads

Maria Fabrizio
Boys of Summer by Don Henley

Julie Turner
Every drop of 5150 

Kevin Smith
Too Hot by Kool and the Gang

Will Weatherly
Hey Man! Is That a Ninja Up There? by Minus the Bear

Ryon Edwards
Saturday Nite by Blitzen Trapper. Fun, funky, pop-ish in a good way.

On theme songs.

What’s the theme song to your life?

Kevin Smith

Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” which just finished playing on Radio Paradise – wow

Julie Turner
Also Sprach Zarathustra

Ryon Edwards
“no time” by the guess who

Kevin Archie
“Either Way” by Wilco

Cathy Monetti
Unworthy, by Cheryl Wheeler

Jody Courtney
A theme song isn’t enough, I’d need a whole soundtrack.


Spotify: A Reason for Hope in the World

Between 24-hour news cycles and the sorry economy and the terrifying and distasteful catfight over the debt ceiling, it’s no wonder many people are feeling a bit downtrodden. I’ve been thinking a bit about that lately and want to offer this different perspective:

I find something new to be excited about every single day.

Today it’s spotify.com, an on demand digital music service with more than 15 million tracks you can play instantly on your computer, your cell phone or your home audio system—for free. The service is supported by all the major labels, so there are not many content gaps. You can build your own playlists, see what your friends are listening to, and maintain your account via cloud so it can travel with you.

How extraordinary is it that we live in world in which a music library of 15 million tracks is available at the click of a button, wherever you are?

It’s the same in this business. In the old days (last year?), our work was all about interruption. But today, the toolbox is filled with countless options for actually creating connection.

Think about that for a moment. Whether you are a nonprofit or a marketer or a business owner looking at this from the side of brand, or an individual looking at it from the side of the consumer (and we’re all both at one time or another, aren’t we?), connection is a wonderful goal with a consequential outcome. Connection offers a meaningful exchange—and getting a bit dramatic, but still— isn’t connection the point of life?

I’m excited, everyday, to find new ways to connect brands and causes to the people who will embrace them, to those whose lives will be enhanced because of the connection. I think it’s one of the most beautiful things about our world right now.