Tuesday, September 6, 2016


Last Friday (9/2/16) WMOT, Murfreesboro, segued from NPR News, Classical and Jazz programming and became Roots Radio 89.5 FM, a potentially powerful new player in Nashville.   

With the switch, WMOT became an important voice for Americana, bluegrass and roots music in the Music City market.

WMOT [link] gave up years of being “second fiddle” (pun intended) to Nashville Public Radio’s NPR News WPLN and Classical WFCL. With the enthusiastic support of licensee Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), Roots Radio 89.5 FM debuted with a ceremony at the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Ford Theater in downtown Nashville.

WMOT’s 100,000-watt signal has been blanketing the entire Nashville metro (see coverage map on the right) for many years but few people noticed them. Things are different now and WMOT has the opportunity to be a national leader of the Americana format.

There are a few other Americana stations of note: KDRP in Austin, WEVL in Memphis, WAMU’s Bluegrass Country and WIEE in Lafayette, Louisiana, come to mind. I am in the process of learning more about Americana stations.  If you know of other stations who air Americana, bluegrass and roots music at least half of their broadcast schedule, please let me know at publicradio@hotmail.com.


Roots Radio 89.5 FM is a partnership with Music City Roots [link], a Nashville-based firm that provides programming for both radio and television. Music City founders John Walker and Todd Mayo are Nashville music insiders. Music City has been praised for respecting the integrity of the music and nurturing new artists. Music City Roots Program Director Jessie Scott is now programming WMOT.

John Walker
Walker and Mayo also are behind Music City Roots, a weekly variety show that airs nationally on PBS TV stations. The series will begin its fourth season of national syndication on October 28th. Walker is hosting morning drive on WMOT. Grand Ole Opry veteran Keith Bilbrey is the midday host and Whit “Witness” Hubner is on WMOT in the afternoon.

Nashville musician Rodney Crowell, recipient of the Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting, praised Roots Radio 89.5 FM:

“Imagine, in our neck of the woods, a radio station with real people playing music they actually care about, even love. WMOT is bringing Middle Tennessee real music when we need it most. Miracles happen.”

WMOT Broadcasting live at Ford Theater

At the opening ceremony at the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Ford Theater Americana artists Jim Lauderdale, Will Hoge, Suzy Bogguss and Mike Farris jammed onstage and celebrated the emotional moment for the music they love.


Roots Radio 89.5 FM’s licensee Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) is home to serious scholarship, preservation and curation of popular music. MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment is the home of the Center for Popular Music [link]. The Center organizes conferences, classes, guest lectures, concerts, Spring Fed records, social media engagement and digitization services via grants and entrepreneurial projects. 

Ken Paulson, dean of the College of Media and Entertainment, told local media that the WMOT partnership will be equally beneficial to the university community:

“Our goals were to serve a wide audience, give our students more professional opportunities, reflect what we teach within the four walls of our College of Media and Entertainment and to tap the talents of our music-savvy faculty.”

Greg Reish, director of the Center, will host a weekly program Lost Sounds, drawing material from one of the nation’s deepest archives of recordings, sheet music, books and ephemera.


Jody Evans, head of the Public Radio Program Director’s Association (PRPD), has released the annual Content Conference’s agenda.  

The Content Conference will be held in a couple of weeks (September 19 – 22) in Phoenix. The agenda and complete information are available at [link].

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