Well, after I got back from Bonnaroo, I threw together a quick sidebar that was intended to be part of the cover story, but alas, it was late in the news cycle, and space was tight. I spoke with Grimey's co-proprietor/former WRVU DJ Doyle Davis and local rock dude Luke Schneider in putting the piece together, and while a couple of their quotes were used for the cover story, I just couldn't let their insights languish in a folder on my desktop. Thus, I decided to post my sidebar. Quickly pieced together and edited by no one, you can read it below.
Since the first signs of WRVU’s potential demise, talking to local-music supporters — fans, musicians, DJs and guest DJs alike — has revealed a common, deeply held sense of righteous indignation. A lot of local-music supporters were appalled at the thought of losing such a historically significant institution.
In the week since 91.1-FM made the jump from WRVU to WFCL programming, some supporters remain aghast and unbelieving. Others have revealed a more cynical, defeatist attitude. Like watching a long-suffering loved one finally submit to terminal illness, some folks are just relieved to see the other shoe drop — no more worrying over what could happen. Hyperbolic analogy? Sure. But for so long, Nashville was home to a radio station with community access and a significant bandwidth, and it was an institution that had an indelible, undeniable impact on the local-music community. And now … well, now it’s just gone.
Doyle Davis is a co-proprietor of Grimey’s New and Pre-loved Music, former host of The D-Funk Show on WRVU — a post he gave up last year after a decade-and-a-half on the air — and was a fan of the station before that. Davis heard R.E.M. for the very first time on WRVU in 1981. He also notes that he discovered The Replacements and Pixies via WRVU, and even once won tickets to a Clash show at Vandy via the station.
“I'd never heard radio like it before,” says Davis. “I'm too young to have experienced free-form radio in the ’60s. This was the real deal. … WRVU was the most influential radio station in town when it came to sales of records and CDs at Grimey's. Customers would come in asking for songs they heard on WRVU. … It rarely happens with the commercial stations in town. WRVU listeners were active music consumers and early-adopter types.”
Luke Schneider — a local musician who has played with outfits including Lylas and Cortney Tidwell and has appeared on WRVU both performing and guest DJing — was similarly distraught by the station’s sale. Schneider notes that he first heard artists like Dr. Dog, Sacred Harp Singing, Broken Social Scene and Richard Swift via WRVU, and that there was no similarly accessible outlet for local artists to gain exposure.
“WRVU DJs played music that could not be heard on any other radio station in the Nashville area,” says Schneider. “By taking this music off the airwaves, it will be harder for a new/younger generation to happen upon, for instance, a Howlin’ Wolf recording that could very well be a life-changing experience for a young listener.
“Lots of people were listening and paying attention,” says Schneider when asked about the influence of WRVU on the local community, “and using the radio station as a tool to stay informed on the happenings of the local music scene.”
“I keep having to correct the tense in the sentences I'm typing,” says Doyle Davis via email in response to the Scene’s questions about WRVU. “I keep saying ‘is’ instead of ‘was’ and so forth. It's just so damn sad.”