A cool story about a radio station coming to be..
Posted on November 8, 2012
Here’s a very condensed version – or rather a few excerpts to wet your appetite on (what I find to be) a fascinating read. Not specifically concerning Part15, but more so about beginnings and unique programming..
Link to the full article is provided below.
Radio Power: After 15 Years, Knoxville’s WDVX Celebrates its Unlikely Success Story
… “So I came to terms with myself one day. I was in the hospital. And I told my doctor, you know, I want to do something different. And I told him about this station I’d love to have. And before I got out, he wrote me a hundred-dollar check and said, I’d really love to hear that radio station. And I said, Oh my god, Now I’ve gotta build this thing.”..
…The station was very much on again, off again,” says Burggraf. “There were lots of great ideas for getting on the air, but also lots of impractical ones. I think there’s an old adage about getting a committee to design a mule. It’s a mess.”
..WOKI management allowed the two men to put WDVX on the air via a CD player and four discs on random play, set up on the fly… …“if a CD got stuck, we had to drive all the way to the top of the mountain to unstick it,” Lawson says.
…That lasted until the FCC caught wind of their half-baked operation and sent a polite letter of warning to the newbie station. “They said, guys, you gotta do this right or get off the air,” Lawson says. “Fortunately we found a place to park for a while, on a back porch right off the Clinch River.”… and radio personnel had to enter through the family’s living room to reach the broadcast area. “That proved to be pretty impractical,” Burggraf says.
Yet the station still managed its first live performance there. “It was one August night in the backyard, and you could still hear the crickets,” Lawson recalls.
“We had Fish Jones and Jessie Brock, and our own RCA 44 mic set up, and we went live.”
Later live feeds were moved to the home’s basement, where, Lawson says, “we had some troubles; it was real primitive.” …
..“I asked him, have you ever thought about having a radio station in your campground? Then I called Don and said, what do you think about putting this thing in a camper? He said, are you crazy? And I said, no, because you already put a radio station in a train caboose when we worked together in the ’80s at WNOX, so I know you can do it.”….
..“The camper years were great, and they were important to WDVX’s identity,” says Hickey. But the station board always had bigger things in mind, from the moment the Burggraf first flipped a switch on Cross Mountain…
..It was around 2001 that ABC recognized WDVX with a feature on its World News Tonight With Peter Jennings….
“We wanted a place where we could do live broadcasts, but as a live-performance venue,”
One of the first orders of business, after the dust settled, says Lawson, was making live music an integral part of programming: not just live radio, but live radio with a live audience. The station hosted live music once a week at first, then moved to a five-day schedule. And though early shows were sometimes poorly attended, everyone persevered. Now the six-days-a-week…
And sparse attendance is rarely an issue now. Says Hickey, “We have regular people who come several times a week. The Blue Plate has become a daily habit here in Knoxville.”
A second, weekly live show was added in 2008, in the form of Tennessee Shines, ..
“If there was a problem, it’s that we were successful, and we needed a business model to support that. There’s tons of things you have to do as a radio station, from FCC compliance to underwriting. And what we really needed was one person as GM, so we could get it moving in one direction.”
What seemingly separates WDVX from just about every other extant radio station or aural entertainment medium is its combination of niche-market freedoms—an absence of playlists, a boggling variety of specialty shows (rockabilly, banjo, Scots-Irish, blues, gospel)—and its local flavor, its roots in, and connection to, the community it serves.
“With the creativity that walks in here every day, this place just opens the door to having fun,” Lawson says. “It takes you to such interesting places.”
Read the whole thing here: