Even in the era of satellite radio and digital streaming, terrestrial radio remains one of the best tools to help a musician put his music in front of a wider audience. Although most commercial radio stations’ playlists remain strictly programmed and out of reach for independent artists, nearly every large city supports a noncommercial signal or two, whether they’re traditional college stations staffed by students, or nonprofit public radio stations with paid professional staff. Submission policies vary among stations, but many of noncommercial radio’s staff members thrive on the opportunities their station provides to break up-and-coming bands or support local music scenes. For Music Connection’s Radio Roundtable, we contacted several programmers and DJs at stations across the US to help you increase the odds that your recordings make it to the airwaves.
By Matt Schild
University of Georgia, Athens
Box 2065 Tate Student Center
Athens, GA 30602
Music Directors: Ryan Rudde, JJ Posway – firstname.lastname@example.org
HOW DO YOU SELECT SONGS FOR AIRPLAY AT WUOG
There are two avenues. If the band is coming through town and want to do an in-station, they should get in touch with the programming director––myself––and then we set that up. Now, if they want to submit music to us, they should send it to our address that’s on the website and our music directors will handle that. Any correspondence regarding submitting music goes to our music directors.
“Our main goal at WUOG is to give independent artists as much exposure as possible.”
WHEN BANDS DO IN-STUDIOS IS THAT AN INTERVIEW OR PERFORMANCE
We try to do both as often as possible, but if the schedule only allows an interview, we’ll only do an interview. Our main goal at WUOG is to give independent artists as much exposure as possible, so if they can play a set, we’ll make it happen.
HOW MUCH LEAD TIME DOES A BAND NEED TO SCHEDULE AN IN STUDIO APPEARANCE
Ideally four weeks, but if it’s two weeks we can usually work it in. I realize that a lot of the times, the bands that we’re looking at on college radio don’t have their schedule worked out that far in advance. So two weeks usually works out.
MOST EFFECTIVE WAY FOR AN ARTIST TO GET TRACKS ON THE AIR
Just send an email to a music director or myself. Say, “I’m an artist and I have these tracks.” Maybe send a little blurb about it so we can get an idea. Links are always important. Basically, if they just send us a little blurb and ask for an address to send it, that’s the best way. Then, we’ll have it in our heads that this person contacted us and we’ll keep an eye out for it.
WHAT FORMATS DO YOU ACCEPT
A CD is definitely best. Right now, we have decided not to digitize our collection as of yet, so most people working at our station are playing CDs. For what we do here, the CD format just integrates better into our collection that way.
HOW DO YOU EVALUATE MUSIC FOR AIRPLAY
It goes through our music directors, and from there, we have a relatively large music staff. People grab CDs that are relevant to their tastes and genres they know. They’ll take them home and review them. All of our CDs are reviewed by that spate of music reviewers under the music directors. Most of the choice is on them.
DO YOU CONSIDER THE SIZE OF A BAND’S FANBASE OR ONLINE FOLLOWING
As far as a black or white line, the only thing we take into consideration is if they’ve ever been in the Billboard Top 50. If they haven’t, then they qualify to be played on our airwaves.
DO YOU HAVE SPECIALTY SHOWS
We do have specialty shows, but I have yet to deal with any bands that have contacted me and mentioned a specific specialty show. That’s not a bad idea. If they’re willing to put the legwork in and look up the schedule online then contact us about a specific show, that would assuredly go much further to getting them in rotation. In that case, we’d talk to the specialty show host.
DO RADIO PLACEMENT SERVICES HELP A BAND GET ON AIR
I don’t think it’s worth the money. It depends on how big you are if it’s worth it or not. I’m just as likely to reply to a personal email, or probably more likely to respond to a personal email, than the super-mass sent out to 600 radio partners email.