The birth of Roots Radio on WMOT 89.5 FM has become a big story in the world of public media. Last week Current, a journal covering public media, featured the new all-Americana WMOT in a lengthy story. The in-depth piece by Sara Wise offers a detailed look at the innovative partnership between Middle Tennessee State University and Music City Roots.
Quoted are the key people on the MTSU side who envisioned and executed the transition. Ken Paulson, Dean of the College of Media and Entertainment said that one goal for revamping WMOT was to “embrace a format that would reflect Nashville and the curriculum inside our college.” And indeed students are already helping with most aspects of programming, production and promotions.
Station Manager Val Hoeppner tells Current that the college and her Center for Innovation in Media is looking to enlarge the spirit of non-commercial broadcasting. “In public radio, we somehow decided we always had to be serious. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with letting our joy show,” she said. “I don’t think there’s anybody else out there doing what we’re doing.”
And Steve Bass, the former president of Nashville Public Television who was brought in to consult on the best format for WMOT said Americana music was clearly the best way to serve Middle Tennessee. “The expectation is that this will develop a much stronger loyal audience,” Bass said. “It may not be the largest in the Nashville market, but I think they’ll develop a core and likely the revenue will increase.”
In related news, National Public Radio’s President and CEO Jarl Mohn will visit MTSU and WMOT during the week of October 17.