NASHVILLE — With a seamless segue from a classical rendition of Aaron Copland’s “Hoedown” to its Americana interpretation, a new player emerged Friday, Sept. 2, in the Nashville radio market.
WMOT-FM, MTSU’s 100,000-watt professional radio station at 89.5 on the dial, officially changed formats at 11 a.m. Friday from a mix of classical, jazz and news-talk to Americana music in a ceremony at the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Ford Theater in downtown Nashville.
The transition makes WMOT-FM the region’s only station devoted to the unique amalgam of bluegrass, folk, gospel, soul, country and blues music defined in the music industry as Americana.
A combination of two banjos, two fiddles, a bass, a guitar, a dulcimer and a dobro ushered in the new format at the launch event by picking up “Hoedown,” the final classical piece played on the station, in mid-swing and playing it Americana style during the simulcast on WMOT and www.musiccityroots.com.
WMOT-FM, which first went on the air in April 1969, is now known as “WMOT-FM/Roots Radio 89.5” through a partnership with Music City Roots, a Nashville-based firm that provides programming for both radio and television.
“It helps to extend, promote and advance the Americana genre and will give valuable air time to those various, vibrant artists, many of whom live and work in Nashville,” said MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee.
Ken Paulson, dean of the College of Media and Entertainment, added that the partnership will be equally beneficial to the university community.
“Our goals were to serve a wide audience, give our students more professional opportunities, reflect what we teach within the four walls of our College of Media and Entertainment and to tap the talents of our music-savvy faculty,” said Paulson.
WMOT’s listening area extends as far north as Bowling Green, Kentucky, and south to the Alabama border. The station will remain the flagship for Blue Raider Athletics and will continue to air “MTSU On the Record,” a 30-minute public affairs interview program highlighting the university community, as well as regular local and national news updates.
In a nod to its tradition of jazz programming, the MTSU Jazz Network also was launched on WMOT’s secondary FM signals, 104.9 in Brentwood and 92.3 in Murfreesboro, as well as the station’s HD channel.
“Through our unique partnership with Music City Roots, we are able to bring the sound of Nashville’s heritage to our listeners, continue great jazz programming on our secondary channels and, most importantly, continue to mentor and train students at MTSU for careers in journalism, the recording industry, radio, television and beyond,” said Val Hoeppner, executive director of MTSU’s Center for Innovation in Media.
With Americana artists such as Jim Lauderdale, Will Hoge, Suzy Bogguss and Mike Farris jamming onstage, the moment was an emotional one for aficionados who have promoted the music they love for years.
Jed Hilly, executive director of the Americana Music Association, praised Music City Roots founders John Walker and Todd Mayo for maintaining the integrity of the music and giving its artists a home.
“I was ready for the corporate monstrosities to buy you out and eliminate Music City Roots,” said Hilly. “I thought that would happen. You did not let that happen.”
For programming information, go to www.wmot.org or www.musiccityroots.com. To learn more, contact Hoeppner at 615-898-2337 or email@example.com or Music City Roots at 615-669-1627 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Gina K. Logue (email@example.com)