The Syndicate, Metal Insider’s parent company, is a promotion and marketing company that has championed the metal scene for almost 15 years. In our weekly Radio Spotlight, we’ll offer a look behind the scenes of metal radio from some of the stations and outlets playing metal that the Syndicate works with to spotlight the newest underground music on the airwaves and the people that bring it to you. This week, we investigate a freshly underground-friendly metal show at “the most powerful student-run station in the United States,” WRAS.
Georgia State University
Where’s the metal?:
On We’re Not Gonna Take It, Mondays 10pm-12am EST. Local metal also turns up on the Georgia Music Show, Mondays 8-10pm EST.
What’s the format and goal of WRAS, and how does We’re Not Gonna Take It operate within that?
At WRAS-Atlanta Album 88, we strive to keep our station fresh and diverse, while not playing music that can be heard on any commercial station in the Atlanta area. Our name reflects our album-based programming, rather than the singles-driven format that most stations use. Additionally, our charts are based on listener feedback rather than just the number of “spins.” Album 88 has a reputation for being the first in Atlanta to play countless artists that have since reached mainstream success. One of our main goals is to bring exposure to those artists that otherwise might not be heard.
In the past few months, I’ve made major changes to We’re Not Gonna Take It’s main programming to better fit within Album 88’s format and goals. I’ve made an effort to bring the show back to helping artists that actually need more exposure and appreciation. I focus on the underground bands, the local artists, and keeping the show current and up-to-date, so my listeners know what’s going on in the metal world today.
You’re also the assistant program director. What’s it like balancing that with the metal directorship and life outside the station?
I sort of took on everything at once. I think I took on three shows and the role as Assistant Program Director in a month’s time. It’s been four months now, and I still don’t think I’ve found that ideal balance. My life outside of the station ultimately gets edged out. As an APD, I’m on call 24/7, and between my duties and programming anywhere from 3-10 hours of music per week, there’s not much time left for anything other than college coursework. Many of my friends tell me that I’m always working. If I get a chance to go out to a show, I’m chatting up the bands, telling them what I do, and inviting them to send me music. I’ve recently taken on a new co-host for the metal show, AJ, and he’s been a great help in allowing me to divide the workload a little bit. I still have a lot on my plate, but I think I like it that way.
What do you try to do with both your metal show and alternative shows?
I’m a contributing host for the Quintessential College Show as well, and we play indie rock, pop, and lots of old alternative favorites. That kind of stuff is much more accessible, so I don’t have to worry about that show as much. It’s one of the most popular specialty shows on WRAS.
For both my metal show and Algorhythm (which features math rock, noise rock and early post-hardcore), I’m driven by wanting to give exposure to these genres that are often overlooked or misunderstood. I feel it is much more challenging to introduce listeners to genres that are generally off-putting on first listen, due to experimental song structures, abrasive vocal styles, often lo-fi production, and the like. One aspect I like to focus on, with both shows, is innovation. I’m a huge fan of genre fusion and avant-garde music, and my loyal audience is made up of those who embrace experimentation and change.
I’ve seen a lot of elitism in metal fan circles with regard to what metal should sound like and what’s acceptable to listen to. I have no interest in scene politics, and I’m trying to combat that sort of attitude by playing a variety of metal, from the really harsh noisy stuff to bands I hope are more approachable to those who aren’t yet metal devotees. Since taking over the metal show, I’ve moved away from cheese and gimmicks. For a long time, the show has been viewed as a joke, and I’m trying to turn that around. The power metal and fantasy metal stuff can be fun, but it’s not really my thing and it doesn’t fit tonally with the stuff I really want to play.
How do you guys work to support the underground and the metal scene in Atlanta?
As a station, we host countless giveaways for tickets and albums. We bring bands in for interviews, and we have started to book events with local Atlanta artists in our campus courtyard. We announce a concert calendar daily to let our listeners know what shows are going on around the city.
AJ and I also do ticket and album giveaways on We’re Not Gonna Take It. We use our blog and Facebook page to stay in touch with our listeners and to share upcoming events. We note local Atlanta bands when they are played on air, and we announce their shows on the Facebook page as well. In addition to Atlanta, we have great metal bands coming out of Savannah and Athens. I try to reach out to those bands as well and get their music on the show.
I try to get out to as many metal shows as time and funds will allow. I often invite my listeners to come hang with me, and I make it a point to introduce myself to local musicians and check in with them to ensure that we have their current releases. There are many great metal shows coming up this fall, and I hope to get some local favorites into the studio for interviews.
Where do you want the station and the metal show to go long-term?
Album 88 had its 40th anniversary last year, and the station continues to bring a variety of great new music and passionate DJs to the table. I hope that we’ll eventually be able to do online archives of our specialty shows, so people can listen anytime. I’ve also been adamant about getting more “loud rock” and metal into our regular rotation, which is currently dominated by indie rock, hip-hop, and electronic music.
For the metal show, I hope to eventually expand. Metal is such a broad genre, and I think that more focused shows would better complement specific tastes. I unsuccessfully pitched a sludge, stoner, and doom specialty show before We’re Not Gonna Take It was put into my hands. Regardless, I’m grateful for the opportunity to air the best of underground metal at 100,000 watts, even if only for two hours of the week. If we can keep our listeners current on the best in undergound metal today, while reeling in a few new fans, I feel we’ve done good work.
Sample hour from We’re Not Gonna Take It:
High on Fire – Fertile Green
Ulcerate – Beneath
Cobalt – Dry Body
Chrome Waves – Blackbird
Palaces – Lightning Streams on Pause
Anaal Nathrakh – Ashes Screaming Silence
Down – Witchtripper
Morne – Killing Fields
Deafheaven – Language Games
Old Man Gloom – To Carry The Flame
Torche – In Pieces
Deathspell Omega – Fiery Serpents
Bosse-De-Nage – The Arborist
New at Metal Radio This Week:
Down – Down IV Part I: The Purple EP (ILG)
The original sludge purveyors return with the long-awaited first of four new EPs.
Stolen Babies – Naught (No Comment)
With drummer Gil Sharone (ex-Dillinger Escape Plan) back behind the kit and the band on tour now with Devin Townsend Project, Katatonia and Paradise Lost, the off-kilter Californians unleash an irresistibly strange new follow-up to 2006’s There Be Squabbles Ahead.
Eminence – The God of All Mistakes (Self-released)
Previously released in 2008 on Locomotive Records, Eminence is re-releasing the album to radio as the Brazilian thrash band gears up to drop new music next year.
The Syndicate, Metal Insider’s parent company, is a promotion and marketing company that has championed the metal scene for almost 15 years. For radio promotion, street marketing, publicity, event marketing and brand consultation in the world of metal, contact us here.