Smile Politely

From Snowsera to Selleck, WPGU Plays Up Local Artists

Have you heard that in the voting booths this year, the members of Elsinore are casting their ballots for Tom Selleck’s mustache? Or that Snowsera’s favorite horror film is monster movie The Host?

Then you may have noticed that WPGU, the college-run station broadcasting from Green Street, has been paying more attention to local music lately.

Since the controversial Local Music Awards last month, Operations Manager Jon Hansen has listened to many criticisms and suggestions for the station — and, working against managerial-type, when Hansen listens, he actually listens. In the past month, WPGU has put into play, so to speak, a “band of the week” feature, which includes quirky band profiles read on-air, as well as a featured track played every day at a regular time. In addition, WPGU has amped up its local show coverage, updated its music digital database and added newer songs by current local artists.

Were these changes spurred by the Local Music Awards and the controversy surrounding them? Short answer — yes, says Hansen; long answer — not really. “We knew we had slipped in our coverage of the local scene over the previous two years, and we had always planned on getting better. The criticisms (we heard during the LMAs) were valid, and it really got us into high gear trying to represent the local scene better,” Hansen says. He reports the station has more improvements planned for the summer and fall.

In the meantime, with the school year ending and most students departing, it’s time once again for WPGU to think about welcoming a new batch of student DJs, the trickiness of which does not escape Hansen.

“It’s not easy running a college radio station,” he says. “Students come and go, music tastes change with every semester and we lose a lot of the expertise in local music as certain students graduate. Our local music knowledge and excitement often comes from a relatively small group of students who frequent a lot of local shows. But when they graduate, we just have to hope that there are others to replace them.”

It goes without saying that it is not WPGU’s inherent duty to support and report on the local scene. “WPGU is a commercial station,” Hansen points out. “We need advertising dollars to survive. We aren’t funded by the university, so we must cover our expenses somehow.” The implied question here becomes: Is local music good for business?

WPGU is a work in progress, much like the local scene itself. And true to form, Hansen remains open to suggestions.

Artists who wish to get their musical foot in the door at WPGU can send a CD to Music Director Jon Childers. “But don’t just send us your CD,” insists Hansen. “Send the music director an email, stop by the station. We get hundreds of CDs a week, and it helps if you ‘bother’ us about it.”

More Articles