Photo by Olivia Ladd/MTSU Sidelines
The WMOT 89.5/Roots Radio station launched this morning with a live kickoff event and marked the beginning of the new Americana music programming.
MTSU’s station, WMOT, partnered with Music City Roots to convert the channel from jazz to Americana– inclusive of country, bluegrass, gospel and more.
The event, which was live-broadcasted on the station, was held at the Ford Theatre inside the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, featuring an array of special guests.
The day began with a welcome from Ken Paulson, the Dean of the College of Media and Entertainment at MTSU, and University President Sidney McPhee.
Keith Bilbrey and Jessie Scott, the morning and drive time radio personalities for the station, provided commentary throughout.
The star of the show was the “Roots Radio all-star band,” a fleet of Nashville Americana musicians playing banjos, mandolins, fiddles and even a dobro. Their music was the first to travel through the airwaves as part of the new programming.
Jim Lauderdale, a Grammy award-winning Nashville singer-songwriter, thanked the Music City Roots and MTSU staff, including executive director Val Hoeppner and news director Mike Osborne, for their hard work in taking the new radio from an idea to action; he then introduced Will Hoge to perform.
The all-star band again took the stage, this time led by Lauderdale and Suzy Bogguss on guitar, and joined by Hoge and Mike Farris. They played a rendition of “Sittin’ on Top of the World” just before the program closed out.
Jessie Scott and Keith Bilbrey delivered the station ID and played a song on the radio to cap off the kickoff.
The new station schedule will include several daily shows and special weekly programs such as the Americana Music Association Album Chart Show and a Sunday Morning Gospel time slot.
WMOT-FM/Roots Radio 98.5 has a 100,000 watt signal that can be heard from the Alabama border to Bowling Green, Kentucky. The new Americana format is a true representation of Middle Tennessee’s culture and will provide opportunities for students to work in the fields of journalism, radio and the music industry.
The expansion is a step forward for the university as well as Middle Tennessee.