Center Stage on Live365 this week is WIWS - "The Wise Choice in Radio" - playing 50s and 60s music complete with AM radio fidelity and static. We spoke with station manager John Sellards about their history with radio, their station's programming, and we got some music recommendations. Check out the interview below!
What made you get started in radio?
Experience in radio in the 80s/90s for me, my wife's experience with media companies and writing copy, plus our love of 50s/60s music, life, and style. We both have extensive voice work in our past and love the music so it seemed like a logical project for us as a couple.
What brought you to Live365?
I've been a fan going back 20 years, and given it's the most affordable way to host a small station and deal with SoundExchange, it was a no-brainer, especially given the age and quality of the Live365 brand.
What's your favorite part about running your own radio station?
We have a small but dedicated audience who support us, which we love. Many of the listeners are becoming friends - we just recorded a special happy birthday video in character as our DJ names for a little girl in Chicago who just turned 3 and is a fan (because of her dad). Making the connections is by far our favorite part. But, bringing back the classic AM sound/fidelity but in an online way is incredibly exciting.
Tell us about your station's programming. What can listeners expect when they tune in to your station?
Our station is, as far as we know, the only oldies-type station online that actually runs the audio through AM processing, and we even add a touch of static and plate reverb to make it sound as much like the historic powerhouse AM stations as we can. Listeners are truly taken back in time as we have a ton of vintage jingles, spots, and music, plus we've cut an enormous amount of breaks and bumpers in the style of the era - this isn't the usual dude-in-his-basement branding, we've really put effort into making it sound like a lost radio station from the mid-60s.
It's all dynamic, too, so it's not the same playlists over and over. We truly think we've created something unique and the listeners who connect with it have expressed a similar sentiment. We don't have a schedule per se as it's essentially just music around the clock, although we do have occasional special features.
Name one artist that you play on your station that is underrated in your opinion.
I especially love Charlie Rich, and think his song "I Can't Go On" is a great should've-been-hit that fits our station and sound like a glove.
What's your favorite music memory/moment?
When I was a kid, my dad took me to see Conway Twitty, who was a huge country star at the time. I wanted his autograph after the show, and, standing in line, two older kids pushed me out of the way - I was about 7. Conway saw this, pulled me up onstage with 100 people watching, and looked at the two boys and said, "That's not okay, you don't treat a little kid like that." He then took about 5 minutes to talk to me and make sure I got special attention and was okay and my feelings weren't hurt. It made a massive impression on me as a young person and really shaped how I've treated children as an adult, always listening and paying attention to what they say, think, and need.
Please list your top 5 or 10 songs, with a brief reason why each song made your list.
These are songs we get a lot of requests for, albeit from the same few fans. Not necessarily our favorites, but things we've gotten more than one or two requests for recently:
- "Tell Him No" - Travis and Bob
- "Delaware" - Perry Como
- "Bernadette" - Four Tops
- "What's the Difference" - Scott McKenzie
- "Click Clack" - Dicky Doo & The Don'ts
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