Today marks the launch of a Kickstarter campaign for a new venture in Nashville radio: WXNA 101.5 FM. Provided the $50,000 goal is met, the new low-power FM station will infuse our fair city with some genuine community radio — where free-form, great music will coincide with the local issues of the day, where Nashvillians will broadcast to other Nashvillians, and you might even get the time and temperature.
This local airwave ideal has been percolating among the brain trust of six board members who are, to a person, alumni of the late, legendary WRVU (which still streams online but whose place on the FM dial is but a memory): Heather Lose (who helmed The Honky Tonk Jukebox at WRVU), Roger “DJ Rodge” Blanton (Delicious Elixir), Randy Fox (Hipbilly Jamboree), Pete Wilson (Nashville Jumps), Ashley Crownover and Jonathan Grigsby (Set Records to Stun), and Laura Powers (Needles + Pins). They've had regular confabs around a round table at the Gerst House — “Nobody sits at the head of the table,” says Lose — ever since the station was little more than an idea. Together they have shepherded the process of securing a license with the FCC, and completing registration for 501(c)(3) non-profit status. A consultant is committed to oversee the decisions of what equipment to purchase and how to put it together; the antenna tower location is reserved in Germantown; all i’s are dotted and t’s crossed. The only pieces of the puzzle not slotted into place are a location for the station, and, of course, the money.
“Radio’s highest purpose is to serve a community," says Lose. “I ‘get’ satellite radio, but it’s so non-specific. They’re talking to everybody, and when you’re talking to everybody you’re talking to nobody. We’re going to be talking to our community and what’s going on, such as ‘oh my gosh they’re pulling out the magnolia tree in front of the bakery and what do you guys think about that?’”
“I want this to be the kind of station where everything we play is interesting, it doesn’t mean it has to be something I like,” adds Fox. “I hope that’s what people connect with and understand. You might not hear something you like every hour, but you’re going to come back and see what’s next.”
Tote bags, T-shirts and other crowd funding ephemera will be incentives for donors – up to and including DJ Rodge spinning platters at your wedding for $1000, an authentic Ashley Crownover knitted scarf for the same price, and for $5000, the station building being named after you. What price immortality.
The station’s power – for now – is planned to be 100-wee-watts. It’s not much, but it will reach from Germantown down to 12 South, the west side of the east side and the high-rises. Relationships have already been forged with community organizations that need all the help they can get in terms of outreach, such as the Open Table homeless advocacy group. There will be others, and plenty of drives for volunteers, memberships like public radio stations offer, and programs to train the untrained to run their own radio show and join in on the fun. The fundraising goal encompasses getting enough financial padding to open up and operate for as long as it takes to set up further fundraising opportunities that will keep the lights turned on as a regular matter of course. The debut of the station will be when everything is bought that needs buying, and construction of the station is completed.