Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Music Radio Station You Can Listen To

I have intended for a couple of weeks now, since discovering 101.5 radio/The Music Place in Roanoke, to recommend it. That would normally be quite a stretch for me: a recommendation not only for a commercial radio station, but for one owned by a conglomerate.

But Keith Humphry's piece on WDBJ7 last night (here) spurs me to action. The Music Place is owned by Centennial Radio, which has stations primarily in Florida, Louisiana and Nevada and is based in New Orleans (according to BusinessWeek) and owned by a guy named Allen Shaw, whom some consider something of a radio visionary. It has operated in Roanoke and Lynchburg, most recently as the rock-oriented The Planet.

This is the first commercial radio station with a music format I've listened to in, oh, maybe 30 years. The music is not what you hear elsewhere. It is interesting, off the beaten path and features a lot acoustic tunes in a variety of styles, as well as deep album cuts that only fans of certain performers would know. It is consistently good stuff, challenging and interesting. I have no idea how long this will last, but given radio's history in the Roanoke Valley, not long at all. In a locality that values ClearChannel, taste isn't the determining factor.

Don't take my word for it. Listen for yourself here.


  1. I, too, have been enjoying The Music Place, amazed at all the good music that I've never heard before (now and then mixed with stuff I HAVE heard, and like).

  2. Thanks for your enthusiasm for music listening. I'll try it! Interesting comment about not trying for 30 years. I thought I was the only one. Even if we drive around all day and listen to talk, like NPR or Rush Limbaugh, we fell into the trap set by Clear Channel to provide the cheapest format (chat radio) that isn't even polite enough to provide local news/diversity or talent.

  3. Tom: Two alternatives to all the bullshirt: Books on tape/
    CD/iPod and music CDs. Either way, I get to choose. Frankly, ClearChannel has done for my music appreciation what evangelistic Christians have done for my religious fervor. Dan Smith

  4. Roanoke has been a radio wasteland for as long as I can remember, and I was amazed when The Music Place first came on the air. I've lived all over the country, and this is one of the best music stations I've heard anywhere. Unfortunately, we have have a history of failing to support the things we claim to want around here, so I fear it will not last long.

  5. As long as I've been in Roanoke, I've always longed for a station like the Music Place. It's certainly the best addition to our palette of audio fare since WVTF(WBRA)

  6. Of the few presets I had, one was 101.5 the Planet because it was far more interesting than 96.3, known for playing vast amounts of bands that weren't very good 25 years ago (see .38 Special, Foreigner) When the 101.5 switched to its fourth format in six years I thought Radio-Free Roanoke had starved another station. But the Music Place was not what I expected. I was amazed and thrilled to hear new artists ignored by ClearChannel and old ones like Tom Waits that are known only to music aficianadoes. I hope it sticks. The only over-the-air station close is WNRN, a Charlottesville-based station with seven transmitters over much of the state (but not here, yet) that is much edgier, but can only survive because it's a public radio station that gets lots of help -- technical and advisory, although not financial, from what I'm told -- from WVTF.