In a historic shift for radio, Nashville welcomed a new roots and Americana station last week. The radio station previously known as WMOT-FM will now go forward as WMOT-FM Roots Radio 89.5. Middle Tennessee State University operates the station, which used to play classical music.
And you can even watch the exact moment the transition happens. At an even held at the Country Music Hall of Fame, the station played Aaron Copeland’s classic “Hoedown” before a live band began a roots performance of “Bonaparte’s Retreat.” The symbolic moment brought the crowd to its feet.
The transition signified a shift to Nashville’s take on Americana music. That is, a handmade mixture of bluegrass, country, blues and soul. The event also featured Will Hoge, who played his hit song “Even If It Breaks Your Heart.”
MTSU President Dr. Sidney McPhee explained the historic transition at WMOT’s website. “It helps to extend, promote and advance the Americana genre and will give valuable air time to those vibrant artists, many of whom live and work in Nashville,” McPhee says.
The station just so happens to be the strongest, clearest radio signal in all of Nashville. That means Americana and roots music now comes through loud and clear across middle Tennessee.
It’s another big win for the roots and Americana genres. Billboard recently renamed one of its charts to acknowledge Americana, too. The format has skyrocketed in popularity since the mid-1990s.
It’s not the only shift in the airwaves, either. The Alternative music radio station in Nashville, ALT 98.3, recently switched to an “all time country favorites station.” It now plays only country hits from the early 2000s and earlier.