Tuesday, August 25, 2009

WTJU is sooo indie

WTJU has more than a fifty year history. Like many college radio stations they serve a small community. Charlottesville is Arbitron market #233 with a population of about 138,500; only a tad bigger than Rochester, MN. But there's joy in mudville. Radio that can remain local can always survive, sometimes even flourish. WTJU is famous locally for their programming ... and also a strange predilection for producing indie rock stars.There are others, but I note three highlights:

DJ: David Berman
BAND: Silver Jews
David may have been that FJ that pulled that late night prank in 1984 dedicating a late-night show to the recently deceased Elvis Costello. Costello was nto dead, but the new album was Goodbye Cruel World. Berman DJ'd at the same time as Malkamus, even wrote a little music with him long before Pavement was formed. WTJU somtimes breaks out old demos and 1980s interviews with Berman just to remind the world they heard him first.

DJ: James McNew
BAND: Yo La Tengo
McNew is the bassist for Yo La Tengo and was a DJ at WTJU in 1987. He played with local band Hapy Flowers then in 1988, at a show at trax a club in Charlottesville he met the band Christmas. He moved to LasVvegas in 1989 to play with them . They relocated to Providence the following year. Christmas went on Hiatus and he joined Yo La Tengo in 1990. I have to call him out here becuase he recently said the only radio station he listens to is WFMU. Traitor!

DJ: Stephen Malkamus
BAND: Pavement
In 1988 Malkamus had a Thursday afternoon program twice a month. (WTJU has so many volunteers many programs do not run weekly) The Book Perfect sound forever: the story of Pavement by Rob Jovanovic mentioned his time at WTJU and had the following quote:
"That's where I learned a lot about music... Touch & Go, SST, the golden years. I liked Pere Ubu and was into American punk rock... It was my inspiration for knowing I could start a band."
Professor George P. Wilson actually started two radio stations at the University of Virginia. He started 92.7 WUVA in about 1947 and 91.1 WTJU in 1957. Donations were collected to buy a used transmitter. The rest is history.