Tom Sturm of the Valley Advocate
visits DJ Jeff Valluzzi
Behind the Beat:
Toasting the Top of the Dial
Greenfield's WMCB brings music and more to the northern Valley.Comments (0)
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Much as the print medium has evolved in the last several years, the medium of radio has, after hauling its mass out of the swamp of iron-clad commercial airwaves, begun to grow legs and tentacles of all shapes and sizes. What people choose to listen to comes from ever more numerous sources—podcasts, low-wattage community radio stations and, increasingly, "smart" shuffle-services like Pandora.
To some extent, the "50,000 watt flame-thrower" stations are being edged out by smaller, more local content providers or pummeled by the worldwide reach of Internet radio. Some approaches are even combining both in a one-two punch of local/global saturation, at the same time quaint and insidiously clever.
Such is the case with Greenfield's WMCB (107.9LP), though it weighs in at a relatively scrawny 100 watts and only barely dribbles its signal out to the border of the next town over. A stepchild of Greenfield Community Television and still in its infancy, the station already has a full slate of content provided by a small army of volunteers and maintains diverse programming that essentially allows anyone who's up for the effort to shape their ideas into reality. Shows range from music to poetry to commentary on local politics and community issues, and are produced on increasingly state-of-the-art equipment; audio elements at the station include shared and hand-me-down items from GCTV's classic Homegrown broadcast, currently produced by sound and video engineer Travis Roy.
DJ Jeff Valluzzi has brought much to the Pioneer Valley in the way of music; indeed, one could even say it was music that brought him to the area in the first place. Valluzzi rolled into town years ago with his New Hampshire homeboys Barry Daggett and Matt Dube (who often fills this space with words for the Advocate) and a guy named Shisty, calling themselves Pop*A*Wheelie—a band name whose eminently type-able asterisks betrayed his affinity for visual art as well as music. Pop*A*Wheelie rocked the Valley primarily from the late '90s to mid-2000s (the album The Shape of Fuzz is a local rock must-have), and the group still gets together now and again to make a joyful noise. After a stint at Boston's MassArt, Valuzzi, a talented painter and portraitist, returned to the Valley, got married and moved to its northern fringe.
Recently Valluzzi enthusiastically related that he had a show at WMCB (an acronym for Western Mass. Community Broadcasting). After various scheduling failures (hey, people travel a lot in the summer), I managed to set up a day to sit in on his show, The Indie Rock Boom Box, and even got to play guest DJ.
The Boom Box is a great mixture of old and new, with enough local music thrown in to qualify as a Valley music support mechanism, and has a host whose knowledge of musical catalogues is extensive, diverse (within his self-imposed format), and always open to suggestion. Now on his 23rd weekly show, his only wish is that the program could also be podcast on the Internet so his efforts could be appreciated farther afield, if even only in the "lower" Pioneer Valley, where most of his friends live. With any luck, his prayers may be answered; according to GCTV station manager Scott MacPherson, Internet podcasting is high on the list of priorities for MCB, and may well become a reality in the next few months.
"It's a different music license to broadcast an Internet program," MacPherson explained, "so it's been a little tricky. We'll work it out, though."
The station also hopes to start approaching sponsors and underwriters in the near future to help pay for some of the expenses incurred in production and broadcasting.
In the meantime, anyone within about 10 miles of Greenfield center can tune in to 107.9 and hear the station's broad variety of programming, including The Indie Rock Boom Box on Fridays from 9 to 11 p.m. (after Democracy Now). Local videophiles can also check out the other cool stuff going on at parent entity GCTV on their website at www.gctv.org.