Tuesday, October 7, 2008

QRD Music Director Interviews Part 4 - University of Georgia's WUOG

I'm pleased to be presenting part four of my series of excerpts from the QRD "Radio Special" issue full of interviews conducted with college radio music directors.

Thanks again to Silber Records head honcho and QRD founder Brian John Mitchell for allowing me to share his excellent interviews. My interview with Brian goes into detail about his process for selecting stations and about his connection with college radio.

This week, I'm covering highlights from Brian's interview with Max Martin, Music Director from University of Georgia radio station WUOG. The nearly 36-year-old station (their anniversary is Oct. 16th) has a massive listening range, broadcasting at 26,000 watts. They also have some interesting lore about their history, including an infamous shut-down of the station in 1981 under mysterious circumstances. Coming up, WUOG celebrates Alumni weekend November 7-9th and former staff members are invited to apply to do a weekend fill-in shift.

Max Martin of WUOG provides some great insight about the not always glamorous job of being a Music Director, saying,

"Mostly it requires a willingness to do gruelingly boring things (checking the mail three times a week, talking to promoters about crappy albums, listening to awful music 90% of the time) & the ability to convince others that you can do it well. The only reason anyone would ever want to do this job is if they love music & their radio station. A lot."

Max also discusses the station's music philosophy and his take on charts, labels and promoters. He said that he tends to think more favorably about self-releases than about releases on "vanity" labels. Max says he's dubious about a lot of the marketing in the music biz, and is quite skeptical about the word of promoters and the value of charts. According to the interview:

QRD – Do you like to deal directly with labels or do you prefer to deal with some sort of radio promotional team about what is going into the station library & rotation?

Max – Direct with the label is ideal. Promoters are paid to hype up every release, regardless of quality. They are not trustworthy in terms of quality of music. There are (maybe) 2 or 3 people I have talked to from promotional companies who seemed honestly concerned with music, rather than what chart position I was giving their albums. People who work for labels tend to care more about the actual music.

He also talks about the role that DJs have in programming their shows at WUOG. One really interesting rule they have is that DJs can't play a track that's been played in the prior 3 days.

QRD – How much control do you let individual DJs have over what they play...?

Max – DJs are required to play a certain number of rotation cuts during a 2-hour shift, but we let them choose which albums. The only other guidelines are that DJs cannot play any song that has been played in the last three days, & they cannot play more than 4 cuts from the "Big Releases" category (which is where we put big-name indie releases & albums that received 10 or more plays the previous week so that they don't get overplayed). Within this minimal structure, DJs have complete control over their shift.

To warm my old school indie heart, WUOG still has a big vinyl collection, broadcasts 24 hours a day using live DJs (no automation), and eschews digital releases. They are really involved with the vibrant Athens, Georgia music scene and even have a music director devoted to local music. Visit QRD's website for the complete interview with Max Martin.

Coming up next Tuesday, October 14th, I'll present excerpts from Brian John Mitchell's interview with the Music Director from Stony Brook University (New York) station WUSB.

Previous QRD MD Interviews:

Interview with Brian of Silber Records about QRD Radio Music Director Issue

QRD Music Director Interviews Part 1 - Wesleyan's WESU

QRD Music Director Interviews Part 2 - McGill's CKUT

QRD Music Director Interviews Part 3 - UMass Dartmouth's WUMD

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