The new issue of the East Nashvillian magazine includes a great feature by Mary Brace about Roots Radio Program Director Jessie Scott. Learn about how she was there at the birth of Americana and how she used to hang out with the Rolling Stones!
This afternoon, when you tune your radio to 89.5 FM and listen to the newly revamped WMOT Roots Radio — Middle Tennessee State University’s collegiate station — you’ll hear a woman with a low, warm, confident rumble of a voice that says, “I’m boss here.” And she is.
Jessie Scott has outlasted perhaps 90 percent of her peers on the hands-on side of radio in order to take the helm and deliver — at the request of Music City Roots and the campus’ College of Media and Entertainment — a 100,000-watt radio station programmed to the Americana format.
No mere social networker, Scott, who had brief, but memorable, Nashville stints in the late 1990s, is one of the original promoters and pioneers of the Americana format. It was at the end of Scott’s first pass at working in Nashville that she stepped onto what she calls “the magic carpet” that’s taken her to New York, Washington, D.C., Texas, and back to Music City. But the seeds of roots radio found fertile soil in her mind as far back as the 1970s. Scott points to a pivotal day in 1975 when she was paid a visit by Ed Salamon, the legendary program director at New York City’s WHN from 1975-81, a period during which it ranked No. 2 in that market.
“I was playing progressive country and my boss, Ed Salamon, came over to my apartment one day,” she recalls, “and we pulled out the Goose Creek Symphony, Blue Ridge Rangers, Gram Parsons and Flying Burrito Brothers, and the Byrds, and we carted them up and played them, and I knew in 1975 that it was a format unto itself. It took 25 years more for me to get the COM (command) at XM to go take it there. In a lot of ways, this (programming WMOT) is just me chasing my north star.”