The Sidelines (MTSU Student Paper)
Radio free Nashville
By Joey Hood
Wading through the frothy filler of Nashville's radio cesspool, you'll find a hardened voice scrupulously reading his seersucker-suited boss' focus group tested script.
As his trademarked tongue rolls over the predetermined script verbatim, his lifeless fingers press 'play.' Soon, the listener will be accosted with the list of usual suspects: Christina Aguilera, Switchfoot, Kelly Clarkson, Ashlee Simpson, Chingy, Avril Lavigne and Usher.
Meanwhile, a teenager in Memphis digests a suspiciously familiar lineup. Well... maybe there's some variation.
Possibly Eminem's latest release is tacked on at the top-of-the-hour, a dusty homage to Lauryn Hill accidentally plugged-in at the bottom.
Two stations down, a ranting Republican toastmaster rabidly misconstrues Sen. John Kerry's war record. After pausing for rancorous laughs, the talk show moderator returns to the topic at hand: terrorism.
Instead of imparting insight onto his loyal followers, the talk-show moderator maliciously spews forth hate speech on Arab-Americans, calling them "Arab scum" and riling his troops to "bomb Mecca."
And like the teenager in Memphis, the same tired story marches on through Topeka, Flagstaff and even Los Angeles. It's the same one-sided argument, the same Total-Request-Live-ready, tween-approved playlist.
But fear not, radio listeners. A new trend is taking place across the radio landscape - a movement that finds room for your Air Americas and edgier-than-thou indie rock bands.
Middle Tennessee's Radio Free Nashville partakes in said trend.
Debuting in early 2005, WRFN-FM 98.9 is part of a Radio Free collective - a progressive-leaning movement which has found homes in such diverse cities as Seattle, Memphis and Spenard, Alaska.
For the moment, RFN is still lounging on the proverbial drawing board. The upstart station officially received its construction permit on Oct. 31, and it has until April 2005 to get the station up and running under Federal Communication Commission guidelines.
"WRFN-FM 98.9 has been in the making for approximately seven years. I've been told that it's been a very long road for this station," WRFN-FM 98.9 board member Billy Lurken said.
Below is a Q&A with Lurken on everything from politics to WWTN-FM 99.7 commentator Steve Gill.
Joey Hood: A lot of MTSU students have expressed interest in Radio Free Nashville. How can students become involved with RFN?
Billy Lurken: Anyone can get involved in Radio Free Nashville. (They should) visit our Web site at www.radiofreenashville.org. Information about the station is there, as well as guidelines for putting together and submitting a show proposal. There is also a contact e-mail address on the site.
JH: Is previous broadcasting experience mandatory?
BL: No. Board training sessions are being held for those without broadcasting experience. How-ever, all operators must take an FCC-training class, regardless of previous experience. The next FCC training is Saturday, Nov. 20, at noon at the Nashville Peace and Justice Center. Anyone with questions about training sessions can e-mail me at email@example.com, as I'm in charge of putting them together.
JH: Isn't Steve Gill a total tool?
BL: A cross between a plastic hammer and a dull saw.
JH: What type of music will RFN play? Will RFN cater to local bands?
BL: It depends on the show hosts. For example, I will have a weekly show called "Cosmosis" which will be an all-genre music show. Rock, pop, country, bluegrass, classical, folk, blues, reggae, soul, dance, world and hip-hop will be mixed together in no particular format or order. You may hear Buck Owens followed by OutKast followed by Beethoven followed by Beck. I'll also take submissions from unsigned bands/artists for possible airplay, as well as requests.
JH: What do you think of Nashville's current radio landscape?
BL: Nashville's current radio landscape is unhealthy. Shrinking playlists, voice tracking, less local flavor in the broadcasts, fewer programming chances being taken - these are the trends I see on the music stations.On the talk stations, obviously not all points of view are represented equally. This is the result of a few large companies owning practically all of the stations.
JH: Do you feel that RFN will fare well in a socially conservative Nashville?
BL: I think it will be a breath of fresh air. Everyone deserves a chance to be heard. That's supposed to be what this country is about. Plus, this station will offer so much more than political talk.
It will hopefully be an outlet for the international community here in Nashville. I know of a couple of wonderful music shows that will be a part of WRFN's programming. I believe there will be a cooking show, possibly a radio drama show and shows dealing with social issues. So the talk portion of the station won't be limited to politics.
For more information about RFN, visit the official Web site at www.radiofreenashville.org.