Spirit of radio lives on in community, internet stations

Charles Safford (Chuck Chillin') is a DJ on WCUW.

I have to confess, I don’t much listen to music on the radio anymore, which might seem odd for someone who most professionally identifies as a music journalist, but there you are. I have a short commute to work, wherein I usually listen to NPR or a local community radio channel, and if I have a longer drive ahead of me, it’s usually a podcast. At work, my ears are usually occupied by whatever song or album I’m currently writing about, and at home, I mostly crave the familiarity of my own playlists and music collection.

Still, when Vanyaland editor-in-chief Michael Marotta gave me a heads up about the independently owned radio station Oh, Hello Boston, which Marotta says is the only station “solely dedicated to spinning nothing but bands and artists from the region,” I have to admit, I was intrigued.

The regional aspect caught my attention, and naturally I asked if it played any artists with Worcester ties. They have, including Old Man Hansen, Joe Rockhead, The Curtain Society, The Curtis Mayflower, STEMS, The Marshall Pass, usLights, Sam Femino, Michael Kane & The Morning Afters and The New Colors.

Steve Blake, seen here with Pamela "Sheena" Tiger of Punk Rock TreeHouse, is a DJ on WCUW.

Having DJ’d a show briefly for Unity Radio, I have a passing familiarity with how radio works, and also how difficult it is to find local music on the radio dial. When I would play Jafet Muzic, Abbie Cotto, Louie Gonz or other Worcester artists, I would get positive feedback. That said, Unity Radio has a relatively small reach. The city’s biggest stations — the Cumulus Media-owned Nash Icon 98.9 FM (WORC FM), which plays country music; 100 FM The Pike (WWFX), which plays classic rock, and 104.5 FM XLO (WXLO), which plays what it calls “Hot AC,” which is adult contemporary — doesn’t play local music often, because, as a rule, they only play music that has charted.

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