Capitol 06The PopCulteer
February 28, 2014

Charleston is on the verge of getting an exciting new addition to our diverse and vital music scene. Roots Town Radio is a new low-power FM radio station which hopes to begin broadcasting, and also streaming on the internet, later this summer or fall.

The brainchild of Burr Beard, a key player in the local music scene as the administrator of FOOTMAD, and his partner, Dawn Wells, Roots Town Radio will operate as a non-profit, and will feature a mix of American Roots music, including Alt-country, Blues, Folk, Bluegrass, Jazz, Celtic, and select tracks of Classic Country and Southern Rock. The station will feature local volunteer DJs and showcase local musicians and fill the airwaves with styles of music not normally found on commercial radio.

skyThe low-power license means that the broadcast reach of what will be WXDB, 95.7 will be about 50,000 people in and around Charleston, but with internet streaming, the audience is limited only by internet access.

There is an IndieGoGo campaign, with about a month left, up and running. The goal is to raise $10,000 to help with the start-up costs for Roots Town Radio. You can check out the Roots Town Radio campaign here. There are a variety of levels to contribute, and the dividends will be terrific. Having a local broadcast outlet will elevate the local music scene to new heights.

I’ve been trying to shine an international spotlight on Charleston and West Virginia music for eight years with almost two hundred episodes of Radio Free Charleston, but despite very generous coverage in The Charleston Gazette, Radio Free Charleston has managed to fly under most people’s radar by being an internet-only entitiy.

Tower 03Roots Town Radio, with a daily broadcast presence, will really draw in the community and be a constant reminder that Charleston has a diverse and enormous pool of talented creative people making music, and can compete with any city in America in terms of sheer musical power.

We have the musicians, now we need to build the audience. With Roots Town Radio we can make local music a daily part of life in Charleston. This could be the missing piece in the puzzle to establish Charleston as a vital music city, and not just a place that makes the news for misery and licorice water.

In addition to the IndieGoGo campaign above (to which I implore you to donate) there will be two great benefit concerts in April to raise funds for WXDB. PopCult will bring you details on location and price as the dates draw closer, but the line up of talent is stellar, filled with former and future RFC guests:

April 20 will see Andy Park and the True Lovers, Dina Hornbaker. Bobby Altman, Spurgie Hankins, Jody Herndon, Bare Bones, and The BrotherSisters.

On April 26 Kristen Costello, Albert Perrone, Marium Bria, Mark Bates, Sierra Ferrell, Hillbilly Carnival, The Company Stores and The Carpenter Ants will take the stage to raise the money.

I cannot stress how much WXDB will add to the local music scene. It could really be the catalyst that this town has always needed to bridge the gap between local musicians and local awareness. It’s also a huge ego-boost for local musicians to be able to hear their own music on the radio. Back when Radio Free Charleston was a radio show, I can’t tell you how many times musicians would tell me how hearing me spin one of their tunes, even at 3 AM, kept them going and made them think it was all worthwhile.

It’ll be better for everyone. More people will be exposed to local music. Then they’ll want to come out and experience it live. Crowds will get bigger. New venues will open. More people will come out to hear live music. The rest of the country will wonder what the fuss is all about. The next thing you know, Charleston explodes as a destination source for music lovers.

If that’s not a “win-win,” I don’t know what is.

The FCC permit Has been awarded. Roots Town has applied for call letters, WXDB and all that’s left is raising the money to launch. $20,000 is needed along with a $5000 start-up operational fund. Roots Town has partnered with FOOTMAD to act as fiscal agent for the radio station and West Virginia Public Broadcasting for use of tower.

Roots Town is seeking a studio location with offices, studios including a live studio with room for a small audience and for use during fund-raisers. If you know of any suitable space that might be available for cheap, or as an in-kind donation from a music-loving real estate mogul, contact PopCult via the comments box and we’ll pass the information along.

Roots Town Radio will support itself from listener support donations during twice annual drives, as well as contributions from business underwriting and grant-writing. I’m hoping that a huge annual concert might be added to the mix, but that’s just because I like huge annual concerts.

Keep checking PopCult for more details on how you can volunteer for WXDB and how you can participate in other fundraising activities. Now go back up to the IndieGoGo link and throw some money their way.