88.9 WERS: The Importance of the Alternative to Everything Else

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When it comes to music, I’m easy.

I came to terms with that idea a long time ago. Give me a great guitar lead, I’m hooked; a nasty horn section, I’m toe-tapping; some three part harmonies, and I’m financially invested – 99 cents or $1.29 a pop – on iTunes. I live for finding new music and sharing it with my family and my friends one mix CD at a time. Call me old fashioned, but c’mon. What’s better than receiving 17 sweet tracks via USPS that you can undress with your ears in the privacy of your own home? Not much, in my opinion.

All that being said, I’ve become increasingly and regretfully aware of the slow and steady disappearance of unique radio stations on the airwaves. I’d have to be trying hard not to notice.

I spend two hours a day in the car, commuting to and from the 8-5. With the fold of WFNX, I found myself utilizing the scan feature on my car radio far more frequently. How many Top 40 stations does one city need?

DISCLAIMER: I’m not against Top 40 music. In fact, I can be quite the sucker for it at times. Refer back to line one of this piece. I’m seriously easy when it comes to music. These stations promote certain redundancies, however. Not buying it? Take a look here and here. Many of the Boston radio options offer the same thing – a repetitive playlist with little variety and many, many commercials.

So, where does one turn in the Hub for a perfect mix of the cutting-edge and the classics? I’m glad you asked. The answer is WERS.

Ever heard of it? It’s the Emerson College radio station. 88.9 on your dial. It’s a refreshing mix of everything from the legends to emerging artists and all that falls between. And it’s the real deal. WERS has become my safe haven during the daily commute. As I head west in the morning or east in the evening, I’ll hear a sampling of Van Morrison, Gary Clark, Jr., The Talking Heads, Tom Petty, The Clash, Walk the Moon, Springsteen, the Stones, and five other bands I’ve yet to discover. At night and on the weekends, the programming only expands, ranging from local and national a capella to reggae and hip-hop. Check out the Program Schedule here.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s a non-commercial station? Minus a few plugs for its own programs and Emerson College, WERS is all music with periodic news, traffic, and weather. It’s true free format radio, an idea that – due to financial reasons and lack of support and awareness – is rapidly heading the way of the dinosaur.

But here’s the big question. Why? As a society, do we honestly undervalue independent music – and as a result, independent thinking – so much? Yes simply cannot be the answer, making radio stations like WERS all the more important. As smaller stations slowly disappear, the Clearchannels, CBS Radios, and Entercoms of the world impose more and more of their pre-formatted and pre-programmed ilks on our eardrums. How do remarkable bands like The Tallest Man on Earth, Calexico, Sonny Landreth and ZZ Ward get exposure? Have you ever heard of them? WERS will introduce you.

If you’re exhausted by the same 20 songs on repeat, check out WERS. Independent radio provides a unique and individual outlook on the world of music. You may be surprised with what you discover.