Wheelz Music Director & Personality Lauren Davis, Review Publisher Robert Martin, and Technical Director Andrew Lay Join Forces to Launch an All New All Original Internet Radio Station
The Birth of
REVIEW THIS RADIO
By Robert E. Martin
As the Review has grown, evolved, and expanded itself throughout the years, the success of this endeavor has always predicated itself upon the committed involvement & persistence of those that actually care about making something happen within our tri-city community that is uniquely shaped & crafted into an entity of vitality onto its own.
Having said this, I am immensely proud and honored to be part of the team that in late-September of this year will be launching an exciting new Internet Radio Station into the
Michigan market entitled Review This Radio.
Hosted by Lauren Davis, a well-known radio personality since the early '90s that is currently Assistant Program Director/Music Director and afternoon personality on Wheelz, 104.5 & 101, and delivered by the multi-skilled technical savvy of Review web-designer Andrew Lay, the goal of Review This Radio is to deliver a multi-genre Michigan showcase of unsigned and all-original musical talent for people to tune into, appreciate, and hopefully forge a much needed connection between recording artist & audience.
By tuning into the website at www.reviewthisradio.com and utilizing a 'player' that comes on most computers, or can be easily downloaded, beginning in late September listeners will be able to experience a vast array of original & local musicians and recording artists on this revolutionary new medium.
And for me personally, I could not be more thrilled or excited by the potential roads to be carved and sculpted with this endeavor.
Birth of a Radio Station
In many ways, Review This Radio is a logical extension of everything that I feel has been built and fostered with The Review over the past 26 years. In focusing on profiling new bands, musicians, and artists within these pages, one thing that I have never been able to convey, except through the artistry of writing, is the actual sound that the artists create.
Bridging the gap between print & radio is a dynamic turn for The Review. However, by cultivating Review This Radio with the same passion that the profiles within these pages have contained, that unfortunate 'lapse' through mediums will suddenly become bridged.
Artists will actually be able to get their music out to the ears of fresh listeners, and readers will actually be able to hear the artists they've read about.
This is what excited me most when Lauren Davis first approached me about embarking upon this venture. But given her busy schedule at Wheelz, coupled with duties as a working mother and lead singer of the band Serving Chaos, why did Lauren decide to embark upon this adventure?
"There are a number of reasons," she reflects. "I think about the things that led me to this and I am convinced that I am either completely off my rocker, or destined to try something that's just crazy enough to work. Either way, I find it to be a pretty exciting challenge."
"Internet Radio is still in its
infancy. There are so many ways to create and share ideas; it just seems
like a ridiculous waste of a precious resource not to do it."
People may recall reading in The Saginaw News and other publications in the area that Lauren was involved in another online station. So what happened to that project?
"In a manner of speaking, yes, I was involved with starting up a similar project. We had some meetings, planned some things, but it never materialized."
"Basically, I was approached by a couple of guys running a local band site," relates Lauren. "They had the idea that I could be of some help in eventually building something like a radio station. I found the idea very exciting and, at first, was impressed by their tenacity."
"The tech guy was incredibly talented and, in my opinion, the only one who really had it going on. But things started to look funny when I really poured over the numbers they were showing me, as far as web hits were concerned, and I began to question the validity of some of the things I was hearing."
"I don't want to go into detail, but I was left a little disappointed at the outcome. It turns out the tech guy was disappointed, too. He moved on right after I did."
Back in February of this year, Lauren approached me about picking up the project. Obviously, considerable technical expertise is required to bring an entity of this magnitude to fruition, so immediately I suggested broaching the idea with the Review Webmaster, Andrew Lay.
"When I met Drew, I knew we had a winning combination," exclaims Lauren. "Each of the personalities involved brings a wealth of experience in broadcast, print, and internet mediums. After the very first meeting I said, 'Right on. This is more like it!'
"I can't explain it. The planets must have been aligned. Jupiter must have been in Libra. My 'Chi" must have been flowing. Whatever! Some sort of hocus pocus put this team together and I'm happy to say that for once I wasn't dumb enough to miss the opportunity."
As for Drew's involvement, his enthusiasm matched that of Lauren and my own. "I got into the underground hip-hop scene almost 10 years ago," explains Drew, "and became very involved in promoting shows and networking with local artists across the state."
"In my time I've seen countless talent that so deserve nationwide attention, or at the very least the ears of everyone in the local area. I believe we can bring a station with music the people want to hear, while spotlighting Michigan talent," he continues.
"By talking all genres, I think we will have great content for an all-original 24 hour station, so I'm excited about heading up the technical side of RTR, as well as helping bring the Hip-Hop side of things into programming and shows."
As for myself, undoubtedly it's a tad daunting and sometimes scary to think about the task ahead not to mention the amount of additional work involved; but as an old sage once said, 'nothing worthwhile in life is ever easy'.
I am confident that given the undeniable glitches and curves we will encounter in traveling this new road, the journey will be well worth the ride.
Inquiring Minds Want to Know�
Given the fact that Lauren currently works at an FM station, what does her boss think of this new venture? Is this in conflict with what she does at WHEELZ?
"Well, I should start by saying that the local music scene is likely to have little impact on who we reach out to at Wheelz. RTR is a showcase for local musicians. It's an opportunity for those who are already looking for something fresh and new to hear some great stuff," she reflects.
"I love my FM job. I work with great people. Though I've been known to pick on him, my boss is actually a pretty progressive thinker with a very open mind. You have to understand that Scott Meier, my General Manager at Wheelz, is a great supporter of local talent in ALL mediums. I can assure you that there are precious few classic rock managers who would have allowed me to showcase local talent on-air in the way he has."
"He's also one of those rare individuals who strives to continuously challenge his employees to challenge themselves. He told me he felt it would be a great learning opportunity for me. He has never uttered a disparaging word or condemnation. The rules are simple. Don't let it affect what you do for Wheelz, and do a damned good job at whatever you attempt to accomplish."
Given the number of genres we attempt to showcase, does Lauren feel it even possible to bring this ambitious model of programming off?
"I have a goal," she responds. "I'm hoping to desegregate the sound of Michigan Music - to open some minds to what is available. It's certainly not an easy task. I'm interested to see if I've honed my programming skills enough to make it happen. No, it's not all the same kind of music. But all of it is damn good! It's sure to teach me something, so it's a worthwhile endeavor."
Others may wonder if its even possible to mix so many varied genres of sound on one station, but for me personally, I recall the great days of WABX Free-Form radio in Detroit. They would play entire albums and even have actors read the Comic Pages in the daily newspaper on Sundays. With all the specialization that goes on in broadcast radio, opening the medium up seems like opening the window on a fresh sunny day.
Lauren tends to agree.
"Obviously, someone who likes metal is not apt to be a big smooth jazz fan. The features of RTR are designed to progress in an ebb & flow that, hopefully, the listener will find pleasing," she states.
"That aside, I might point out that the very reason for RTR's existence is to satisfy those folks who are more multi-genre in their listening preference. These people have been grossly under-served!"
"FM, or terrestrial radio, will always have its place. Some people like one or two kinds of music and that's all. That's fine. We're not taking on the local radio market. We're simply here to point out the incredible, readily accessible talent the state has to offer. They deserve an outlet, period."
Given the fact that so many peers from all media will be looking over our collective shoulder, the challenges RTR faces are daunting, though not insurmountable.
"Though internet radio is growing by leaps & bounds, it's got a long way to go," reflects Lauren. "There are huge technical challenges. There are logistical challenges. I'm challenged just to get the time to do this in the hours outside of my FM job. But I have great confidence in our team. Sure, there will be difficulties, and I'm sure we'll earn our fair share of criticism. But the critics will always criticize; it's what they do."
"Didn't Teddy Roosevelt say something about that? That it's far better to be the guy on the field, in the down and dirty, than to be one of those poor souls who have never attempted to accomplish anything? If I waited until I thought I could execute something perfectly before I gave it a shot, I would never be good at anything. Making mistakes and failing from time to time is a necessary thing."
"Will there be challenges? Hell, yes. Bring 'em on."
Given the fact that much of Internet radio is commercial free, readers may wonder how our team intends to cover costs.
"Damn the cost!" laughs Lauren. "Everyone here has donated their time. Our investment is huge. The technical costs alone are daunting. But we're not doing commercials in the conventional sense. Just like the old days of radio, we're offering sponsorships. The listener hears and understands the show is being sponsored by Joe's Restaurant, but Joe's restaurant is not dominating the airwaves. No commercials, just sponsorships. If that has to change as it goes along, we'll find a way to keep it flowing."
Additionally, we will be offering combination packages for advertisers that wish to run in both the print edition of The Review along with sponsorship packages for Review This Radio.
Challenges for Artists
Similar to the team putting RTR together, local musicians also face challenges in the industry that our team hopes to rectify.
"I keep telling people that I really believe the age of the Mega Mega star is over," comments Lauren. "Most of the musicians I know aren't really ready to hear that, but it's like this. In the '70s if there were artists you liked, you were interested because you heard them on the radio. You bought the album, you took it home, and you listened to it front to back. Your relationship with the band began with the music."
"If you wanted to see the band, you bought a ticket to their show. There was a certain mystique at work because your introduction to these artists was through their music. You had already invested enough in them to give them a fair shake on whatever they would produce next. The Beatles, The Stones, The Who, Elvis, it's all the same story."
"Things have changed dramatically," she continues. "With internet, video, Mp3's, etc., the pie has been divided and subdivided ridiculously. There is no genuine connection or commitment to the audience. It sounds disparaging, but I want artists to understand that music with a message that is well written and executed will have a voice."
"If you're into being a mega mega star, you need to rethink the value of what you're doing. Don't write with one eye on the critic. Don't be a victim of your own hype. There is a great big marketing machine out there, and it has placed the no-talents on a higher pedestal than the truly deserving. Consequently, the consistent barrage of marketing has put a barrier between the musician and the audience. In most cases, the audience is not introduced to the musician's product, but the hype."
"I guess you could say I am trying to turn that around again," concludes Lauren. "It's David & Goliath, I know, but in my own little corner of the world, I guess I'd just like to see the artists' message speak for itself."
" My place, I'm certain, is not to do it for them. It's to give them the opportunity to do it for themselves. Whether or not they do so? Well, that's up to them," concludes Lauren.
The Next Step . . .
The first step we are taking to launch Review This Radio is a special benefit concert for CASA that assists in the defense of abused & neglected children.
The Review This Radio Benefit & Showcase will be held at Shooters of Saginaw on Sunday, September 18th from 3:00 PM - midnight and feature performances from Jim Perkins, Laurie Middlebrook, The Banana Convention, The Avery Set, Brush Lopez/Group featuring Julie Mulady, Count 'n the Change, Maybe August and 2nd System.
Originally, Larry McCray was slated to appear, however a subsequent recording date conflicted with his schedule.
Items will also be raffled, 50/50 drawings will be held, and an excellent menu of food will be available. Tickets are only $8.00 in advance and $10.00 at the door and are available at The Review, Shooters, Mid-Michigan Music locations in Saginaw, Bay City & Midland, 101 Main Street in Midland and Tri-City Blinds in Freeland.
Bands and artists are also encouraged to attend this kick-off event in order to sign release forms and submit CD's of their original music that we can showcase on the station.
Release forms can also be found on the ReviewThisRadio website.
The RTR Feature Programming Line-up
The RTR Sideshow * 6:00 - 10:00 AM
An alternative to morning radio clutter! The RTR Sideshow offers an upbeat mix of genres, with the occasional humorous tune or parody song, conversations with area musicians, and Michigan Music News.
RTR's Workload * 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
A full mix of genres your boss won't fire you for!
RTR's Afternoon Double Play * 3:00 PM - 7:00 PM Double shots of the most requested Michigan bands all afternoon.
RTR's Newbie Stage * 7:00 PM
Fresh faced and still wet behind the ears, Michigan 'Newbies' get their 15 minutes of fame!
RTR's Alternative Edge * 8:00 - 10:00 PM
Michigan's Alternative and Pop culture is given a voice!
RTR's The Quarry * 10:00 PM - 2:00 AM
All rock and all request, a show that tosses the politically correct and features more tattoos, piercings and guitar than you'll find anywhere.
RTR's Hip-Hop, Funk and Phat! * 2:00 AM - 6:00 AM
Rappers, Mix-Masters, Hip-Hop, and Funk artists are featured in a program designed to highlight Michigan's most under-served music community.
SATURDAY FEATURE PROGRAMMING
RTR's Balance * 6:00 AM - 12:00 Noon
An amazing mix of genres; it reflects the heart & soul of Michigan musicians.
RTR's General Programming * Noon - 8:00
Juggling chainsaws and bowling balls, RTR mixes music from all over Michigan
RTR Retro * 8:00 PM - Midnight
A b last from the past as RTR explores music made in Michigan from year's past.
SUNDAY FEATURE PROGRAMMING
RTR's All That Jazz * 6:00 - 8:00 AM
Smooth, progressive and beyond belief, it's a cool mix of Michigan's best jazz musicians.
RTR's General Programming * 10 am - 8 PM
Juggling chainsaws & bowling balls, RTR mixes music from all over Michigan.
Ask RTR * 8:00 pm - 9:00 PM
RTR mixes up cool Michigan music with sound advice from various experts and fellow musicians on tech questions, industry, and more!
RTR's Common Sense * 9:00 PM - Midnight