Charleston is officially getting a brand-new radio station Saturday. Even though they’ve been in “soft launch” mode for a few weeks. WTSQ, 88.1 “the Status Quo”, officially launches July 11 and hopefully, will usher in a bold new era of independent volunteer radio in Charleston. This non-profit low-power FM station will bring a daily dose of Democracy Now to the capitol city each morning and offers a daytime playlist of terrific 1980’s and 90’s poppy New Wave hits.
Now this may seem like a case of deja vu to you. About a year ago, another low power FM station based in The Union Building went on the air and lasted a mere six weeks before collapsing amid mysterious and arcane circumstances.
WTSQ is a different beast altogether, with a focused management staff and a solid idea of how to accomplish their mission of bringing diverse voices to Charleston’s airwaves.
I spent part of Thursday morning hanging out with Kenny Lavender, a member of that focused management staff, and Josh Gaffin, the daytime voice of the station, and their enthusiasm was striking. Without digging up ancient history, let’s just say that I got a really positive vibe about 88.1 that I did not get from previous low powered FM stations…based in The Union Building.
Tucked away up on the eighth floor of the Charleston landmark, at the end of an elevator ride that sounds like the coming of Marley’s Ghost, the studio is taking shape and it looks like the mostly-volunteer staff is in for a real treat. The broadcast studio window offers a spectacular view that includes the South Side Bridge and off in the distance, our gleaming Capitol dome. Back when I did radio, we broadcast from a windowless bunker underneath a haunted mansion.
One other thing I’ve noticed about the station is that it seems to have a much healthier broadcast footprint than previous low powered efforts. It can be picked up well into the shopping centers of Corridor G and in areas as far east as Kanawha City and as far west as Dunbar. The broadcast tower is perched high atop The Union Building, and seems to be working just fine.
Hearing delightful 1980’s era New Wave music in the middle of the day is a rare treat indeed and is to be savored. At night, the station’s volunteer staff treats us to themed shows like “Beats Without Borders” (world music), “The Beer Frame” (rockabilly/Americana), “Music In Thee Glenn” (traditional)”Girls To The Front” (female indie rock), “The Alternative” (alternative rock), “Cruisin’ The Boulevard” (oldies), “House Arrest” (dance), and several other cool themed shows, with new programs being added to the lineup every day.
Talking to Kenny and to Josh, and later Kevin Crump, of Snakebox fame, who will be hosting a local music program, was loads of fun and I can tell that these guys are living the dream of working in radio. I’m really looking forward to watching this station evolve and become a vital part of Charleston’s music scene.This town is starved for something like this, and you can tell by the word-of-mouth that the city is rallying behind The Status Quo.
Saturday July 11 is the official launch day and from 2 PM to 6 PM, the station will hold an open house and be broadcasting from the Union Building parking lot and they will have tons of WTSQ merchandise and folks you can talk to if you would like to get in on the act and become part of the volunteer staff. Later Saturday night, the Boulevard Tavern will host a special WTSQ launch party with music from The Fabulous Brothers Steele.
Radio Free Charleston
Meanwhile, many people have been asking me if Radio Free Charleston is going to become part of the programming at WTSQ 88.1. The answer is no. I’m very happy with my streaming spot at Voices of Appalachia‘s New Appalachian Radio and I am really enjoying the freedom of being able to play whatever I want to play without fear of provoking the wrath of the FCC. I provoked their wrath plenty enough times when I was a younger man and we somehow got away with dropping f-bombs 17 weeks in a row on 96.1 FM. So I’m really enjoying being able to present music from our beloved local artists, f-bombs and all, without having to worry about anyone getting their broadcast license revoked.
I do plan to funnel some local music to Kevin Crump, for use on his show at WSTQ.
In the coming weeks on Radio Free Charleston’s streaming podcast at New Appalachian Radio, our second hour themes will include Shepherdstown band World Without Fear, Big Money (Michael Lipton’s first local group), the best of Bongwater, Mother Nang live in 1992, plus vintage music from the RFC archives by The Bounty, Blue Million, Larry Groce, The Velvet Brothers and more.
Hopefully, if you were paying attention, you noticed that this week, we delivered our ninth anniversary video episode of Radio Free Charleston, with contributions from Ann Magnunson, The Company Stores, Volt 9000, Close The Hatch, Ryan McKowen, Frank Panucci, and Third Mind Incarnation. You can see it below. Be warned that the last segment of our animation is not necessarily safe for work.
Stuff To Do
Right after visiting with WTSQ yesterday afternoon, your PopCulteer discovered that his car had become afflicted with dead-ass battery syndrome. Therefore, our Stuff To Do section is a little less complete than normal, since the time spent composing it was instead spent waiting for our talented mechanic to completely disassemble the front end of our car because of the idiotic place where Chrysler decided to stick the battery.