Posted: April 2, 2015 at 1:08 am
By Dillon Durst, Shane Price, Edward Santiago and Steven Accardi
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – Despite its status as the official radio station of West Virginia University, you won’t hear U92’s music playing while walking through the Mountainlair.
“They play WVAQ when they’ve got a radio station right in the building where they’re playing WVAQ,” said John T.K. Scherch, a senior at WVU, and the Director of the Classical Music Program at U92, “I think that is just an incredible slap in the face.”
Scherch said U92’s sole intent is to play new music that no one has ever heard before.
“That’s the entire mantra of U92; we are the new music pioneer. We play new music, and by new, we don’t mean the hottest new hit on the billboard Top 100. We mean new as in new sound that you’ve never heard before,” Scherch said. “We deliberately avoid artists that are already well-established in the mainstream.”
The exception to that is that if the artist or band has ties to college radio, and not necessarily at U92. For instance, U92 will play recognizable bands like Radiohead or Coldplay because they were first heard on college radio stations. In fact, U92 was the first station in Morgantown to play Coldplay.
U92 serves as a “middleman” between brand new bands that have trouble getting their names out there.
“I kind of like to keep a lot of the local music in the rotation. I think it’s important for the scene…a lot of people listen to us and the people that make music in Morgantown know who we are,” said Jared Peterson, a junior at WVU and the Music Director of U92, “Promoters, artists, and record labels send me their music. Then I decide what’s best to play on air.”
Peterson is also in charge of his own two-hour block every Monday from 6 to 8 p.m. His block is a countdown show that plays the Top 20 albums of the week. Most of what he plays isn’t over a month old. However, not all of the music is local.
“We try to keep it in Morgantown, but sometimes we’ll have double features and things where we’ll have somebody who is a little further out. That happens a lot,” said Peterson.
U92 even hosts bands and artists on their Morgantown Sound show to perform live on the show. Peterson says that most of the show is local talent. The farthest a band has come to Morgantown to play for U92 is New York and Connecticut. Peterson has even been in talks with a band from Germany to try to perform on U92.
U92 has hosted artists and bands that were once small but are now fairly popular. For instance, Ty Segell and Jeff and the Brotherhood. Both bands are now signed with record labels. Especially Ty Segell, he signed with a massive record label in Chicago and is coming out with a new record frequently.
Finding music isn’t difficult for the different music shows on U92. Even for the classical music program. Scherch said that it’s easy to find classical music around Morgantown. He does a lot of work with the WVU School of Music. He tries to get WVU students and faculty to come and perform on his show.
If Scherch has trouble filling up his block, he said sometimes he just plays an entire opera. Some operas can last three or four hours and take up the entire show.
“There’s no shortage of local classical musicians. We’ve got a school of music full of them,” said Scherch. “They’re just really, really bad at promoting themselves.”
One of the major difficulties that Scherch has had being the Director of the Classical Music Program is the fact that his show used to be on Sunday mornings from 6 to 9 a.m. Scherch pushed for a while to have that block changed so that more people would be able to listen. Now Scherch’s show airs from 6 to 10 p.m.
“I had been pushing for awhile and finally managed to get the classical music show moved to different time to where people would be awake and listening to it,” said Scherch. “It made my job harder because already non one cares about classical music…it was a bad hour to D. J. and then that leads to being a lazy D. J.”
U92 is Scherch’s favorite experience in college.
“I’ve been at this radio station for seven years. There have been times where I didn’t like it as much, but I still love this radio station. I’ve come to learn about a plethora of new music that I otherwise would not have heard anything about,” said Scherch.