August 17, 2008

WUAG Tuned in to Local Music


In an era when playlists are often dictated from afar, finding a local or indie band on the dial can be a bit like trying to find an LP at a Best Buy.

But the likes of Jews and Catholics, Glissade and Paleface are still being spun at WUAG (103.1 FM) and are among those featured on the station's latest compilation album, "Wooden Anniversary."

"Yeah, you have things like MySpace and sites like that where you can hear a wide variety of stuff you may not hear anywhere else," Jack Bonney, general manager of the UNCG campus radio station said. "But when you're actually in the car, and you don't have HD radio or satellite radio, and you want to hear a (local or indie) band, you can go to college radio."

WUAG's fifth compilation album in as many years features 14 tracks culled from in-studio performances by groups who have dropped by the station over the past year, many of them for the Sunday night show "Radio Greensboro."

Among the more well-known names on the CD are folk singer Damien Jurado, Japanese-Italian group Blonde Redhead and former North Carolina resident David Karsten Daniels.

"We try to catch some national bands when they're on tour and on their way to certain venues like in Chapel Hill, and try to get them to come here, perform in the studio," Bonney said. "When we start putting the CD together we'll call them, see if they want to be on the compilation, what song they want us to use from the recording. Sometimes they don't want to be on it if they didn't like their performance the day they were here."

The CD sells for $8 on the station's Web site ( and at station-sponsored events. In past years WUAG has released double- disc sets, but in 2007 the station moved from the Taylor Building to the Brown Building, and for several months lacked the space for bands to perform.

Founded in 1965, WUAG features an eclectic mix of programming, from Americana to punk to hip-hop. Unlike many college stations (which reside in the high 80s or low 90s on the FM dial), it operates on a high frequency. The station also hosts a series of monthly events such as concerts, film screenings and fashion shows.

Since the 1996 Telecommunication Act, which paved the way for companies such as Clear Channel and Cumulus to buy up large numbers of radio stations, local musicians have had a tougher time getting heard. But WUAG, which is a noncommercial station, still has plenty of local artists in its music library on formats ranging from vinyl to CD.

"A lot of these companies, they've found a formula that works and don't want to take a risk on a new sound," Bonney said. "We have local music on our rotation and we have a concert calendar we announce every hour. If you want to know about local music our station is a major outlet."

Contact Robert C. Lopez at 691-5091 or [email protected]

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