Even with SoundCloud, Bandcamp, YouTube and an assortment of other online avenues for bands to get heard, scoring time on local airwaves is still a highly sought after milestone for emerging groups.
Luckily for Kalamazoo musicians, hitting that FM signal is a plausible endeavor.
Since 1952, Western Michigan University's student-run radio station WIDR has been bringing listeners an alternative to the commercial drivel that typically dominates the airwaves.
And for those tuning in, whether by placing radio antennas on dorm room pipes the way WMU students did in the very beginning, or live streaming from anywhere in the world as it's done today, the one thing WIDR has consistently delivered is a slew of varied and cutting edge sounds.
To that end, WIDR 89.1-FM has also been a proud supporter of the Kalamazoo music scene, not only by adding local bands' albums to their musical rotation, but by also coordinating events such as Kite Flight, Barking Tuna Festival and the WIDR Block Party.
More intimately, the WIDR has invited performers in for The Basement Show. The hour-long broadcast features live, on-air sets that give bands exposure and listeners a taste of the local scene.
|The Basement Show
Airs Mondays, 7-8 p.m. Listen at WIDR 89.1-FM or online at widrfm.org/stream
Watch videos on the WIDR Live Sessions YouTube channel
And while the Basement Show has been a station staple for years, last year the station decided to make a few adjustments and do a little more for the scene, starting with a move from the studio to the Kiva Room at WMU so that people could actually come in and enjoy the live performances. Soonafter, video is streamed at the offical WIDR Live Sessions YouTube channel.
“Originally when we were starting to expand on our Kiva Session idea, we planned to have one live session a month with a band that we could promote to the general public in hopes that they would come by for the show,” explained Kayley Kerastas, who works with WIDR and helps book talent for the live sessions.
“The main purpose of having a performance at [this location] is to accommodate the size of a crowd rather than everyone being crammed within the station,” Kerastas added. “We've had a few successful sessions now and the turnout has been decent each time.”
Kerastas said the weekly show also gives bands a broad platform to promote upcoming releases, shows and missions.
“During the sessions we give the band a chance to be interviewed,” Kerastas said. “It’s a way to discuss upcoming shows, aspirations for their music or just themselves in general.”
Kerastas said the show hosts both local and touring artists, because while the majority of the bands they bring in are local, they've welcomed a number of veteran groups. Side perk for all of the acts: The show is also a way for area bands to get some quality live recordings of their music.
“After the session bands receive an MP3 recording of the show that has been mixed by the production team,” Kerastas said. “Some groups don't have physical copies of their songs prior to the sessions, so afterwards they are provided with a well-recorded mix of their music.
“These sessions provide a beneficial experience for upcoming artists that have been yearning for a way to expand their sound as a whole,” Kerastas added. “I also thoroughly enjoy getting to meet these members personally and to be able to see their creative flows in action.”