MTSU’s WMOT-FM Roots Radio 89.5 is throwing its first birthday party Saturday, Sept. 16, in downtown Nashville, and the musical guest list is a mini-Americana festival. Set for 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sept. 16 at the corner of Sixth Avenue South and Peabody St., the event is part of WMOT’s weeklong coverage of the 18th annual AmericanaFest Music Festival and Conference.
Raucous Mississippi singer-songwriter Paul Thorn of “Too Blessed to Be Stressed” and “Mission Temple Fireworks Stand” fame — a longtime friend of WMOT dubbed by Twangville.com as “the Mark Twain of Americana” — will be the first of a dozen artists to take the stage under the “Yee-Haw Tent” at 11 a.m.
He’ll be followed by 40-minute sets on the hour from Reckless Kelly, Whitney Rose, The Secret Sisters (including MTSU alumna Laura Rogers), The Deep Dark Woods, The O’Connor Band with Mark O'Connor, Lilly Hiatt, the Texas Gentlemen, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Katie Pruitt, and the Vandoliers.
Mike Farris, the multi-award-winning roots rocker and Tennessee native whose career has stretched from his 1990 founding of the immortal Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies to his rebirth as a “good news” artist with a best roots gospel Grammy for “Shine for All the People,” will close WMOT’s big birthday bash with a 10 p.m. set.
Admission to the party is free for WMOT members. AmericanaFest conference registrants, wristband holders and the general public are invited for a suggested $20 donation. All attendees will receive a commemorative 2017 WMOT AmericanaFest poster.
You can join WMOT or update your membership today at http://ow.ly/6Tn430f1ayX to attend the Sept. 16 event free and take advantage of special AmericanaFest membership packages.
WMOT-FM, a 100,000-watt professional radio station housed in the Center for Innovation in Media inside the university’s Bragg Media and Entertainment Building, changed formats Sept. 2, 2016, from its classical, jazz and news-talk focus to Americana in a partnership with Music City Roots, a Nashville-based firm that provides programming for both radio and television.
You can watch last year’s launch party at https://youtu.be/xLfQdtQVOA0.
“This has been an extremely busy year,” said Val Hoeppner, executive director of WMOT Roots Radio and director of MTSU’s Center for Innovation in Media.
“We have a very small staff with a very large signal. I’ve told people that we at WMOT have felt like we’ve spent the first year with our hair on fire. We’ve had to completely resurrect our membership, update our technology right in the middle of all of it — we’ve had a year of turbulence, yes, but our staff is dedicated to our listeners and to the university.
“MTSU’s what pulled us through; there’s been a lot of hard work and also a great partnership with the people of Music City Roots. I couldn’t be happier at how we’ve come through. We were 43rd in the market last year out of 45, and our first year, we’ve come up to between 25 and 27 in the Nielsens — that’s dedication of the people here.”
WMOT, which broadcasts at 89.5 FM as well as online at http://www.wmot.org, is a charter member of National Public Radio since 1969 and the region’s only Americana music channel.
WMOT’s average number of listeners rose from 100 every 15 minutes in July 2016, according to Nielsen Audio figures, to 500 per quarter hour for July 2017 — a 400% audience boost in only a year. About 4,300 people listened to WMOT over a day’s time in July 2016; this summer, that number rose to 10,000 listeners during the day.
For more information about WMOT-FM Roots Radio 89.5, part of MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment, visit http://www.wmot.org.