WESU Spring Pledge Drive 2013

Just 10 years ago WESU was in disrepair. The institutional memory was shot and the studios, music libraries, and business records were in shambles. The station’s license was nearly lost. Fortunately a dedicated group of student and community volunteers worked hard with the Wesleyan University administration to develop a plan to get the station back on its feet.

Currently, WESU operates  24 hrs per day, 7 days per week, and is supported by a volunteer staff of over 150 student and community volunteers, 2 part-time paid staffers, and one full-time General Manager. WESU is supported by a partnership between Wesleyan University and listeners, organizations, and businesses throughout the CT River Valley. As evidence of WESU’s transformation over the last decade, for the first time, WESU was crowned “The Best College Radio Station” in the 2013 Hartford Advocate’s Annual Readers’ Poll! 

WESU receives no federal funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting or any other grant or foundation sources. WESU depends on listener support to cover roughly one third of their lean $120,000 annual budget. When other public radio stations around the country, including right here in CT, have budgets so huge they can afford to pay their General Managers more than twice WESU’s entire annual budget, WESU continues to grow and develop as a community service. With Public affairs programming from NPR, Pacifica, local and independent sources in addition to a plethora of free-form music and community programming, WESU offers more perspectives than any other radio station in the region.  

In addition to bringing listeners hard to access news, music, public affairs, art, and perspectives from across the world, WESU enables our local communities to inform, share, organize, educate, celebrate life, and connect with the world around them. Thanks to the growth in internet broadcasting, WESU now also serves thousands of listeners from around the globe each month. WESU has come a long way since a young student named Arch Doty built that first one-watt radio station in his Wesleyan University Clark Hall dorm room back in 1939.

As an innovative listener-supported community radio station, WESU is constantly exploring new ground. This spring, WESU is taking another risk by exploring a kinder, gentler approach to fundraising in an effort to avoid disrupting the airwaves with another traditional on-air public radio pledge drive. 

You can help prevent an over-the-top pledge drive from taking over the WESU airwaves by donating online at www.wesufm.org  or by sending a check to WESU Radio, 45 Broad St, 2nd fl, Middletown, CT 06457 . WESU is also asking supporters to help spread the word throughout their communities and social networks that reaching new donors is critical to sustaining WESU. Past donors will be receiving letters of appeal in the mail as well.

Community support during this drive specifically supports locally produced free-form radio created by student and community volunteers.  WESU offers a truly unique mix of public affairs and cultural programming that reflects the diversity of the communities we serve. With your support, WESU can further distinguish itself from the radio pack and avoid resorting to interrupting regular programming in order to continue doing what it does best!

WESU Voted #1 College Radio Station in 2013 Hartford Advocate Reader’s Poll!

Click here to see Advocate writeup
Thanks to all who voted for us!

Voters Said:

“They have a program for everyone.  They’re very diversified, I love it!”

“Still free form after all these years and some of the best music and alternative community affairs programs available.”

“WESU is a great resource for Connecticut as it plays unique music and hosts thoughtful talk shows. Homegrown! Rob DeRosa!”

Congrats to Rob DeRosa for placing in the Best Radio Personality and Best Radio Show categories for his weekly “Homegrown”, CT connected music show heard on Thursdays on WESU at 5:05 pm. 

Click here to support WESU with a much needed donation.

WEDNESDAY: Ian MacKaye at the CFA

We are excited to announce that WESU is co-sponsoring a talk by Ian MacKaye at the Center for the Arts Hall, located at 287 Washington Terrace in Middletown, CT. This event will take place February 27th at 8 PM. It will be free and open to the public. Be sure to show up early to make sure you can get a seat. The talk will be made up entirely of questions and answers, so please think of questions in advance!

Ian MacKaye is co-founder and owner of Dischord Records, an independent Washington D.C.-based label that has existed since 1980. He has been lead singer, songwriter, bassist and guitarist for world-changing rockbands The Teen Idles, Minor Threat, EmbraceFugazi, and The Evens. His latest album with The Evens, The Odds was released on November 20, 2012. The Needle Drop’s Anthony Fantano (past WESU lecture guest) describes the concoction, “great songwriting, strong messages, and tight playing are the main ingredients.” An awe-inspiring documentary about his band Fugazi, Instrument directed by Wesleyan alum Jem Cohen was released in 1999. It shows the band playing at such locations as prisons and college gyms, and getting interviewed by an eighth-grade girl on public access TV.

TONIGHT: Get Psyched for The Stepkids/Sidewalk Dave/Featherwood Bee

 The Stepkids

Get psychedelically psyched, because tonight the first show in WESU’s Spring Concert series is going down in Wesleyan’s Memorial Chapel. The show is free and open to the public.

If you can’t join us in the Chapel, located at 221 High Street in Middletown, CT, you can stream the show live beginning at 7:30.

Doors open at 7:30. Featherwood Bee will take the stage at 8:00, Sidewalk Dave will take over at 8:45 and the Stepkids will melt faces at 10:00.

Special thanks to the Wesleyan Concert Committee & TuneIn, a service which you can use to listen to the world’s radio including WESU. TuneIn is available as a app on all smartphones and tablets and online at TuneIn.com.

FRIDAY: The Stepkids/Sidewalk Dave/Featherwood Bee

We unveiled our Spring Concert Series on Monday. Now we’ve got some updates on the first of these shows that WESU will be presenting.

Our first concert will take place Friday February 22 in the Memorial Chapel at Wesleyan University, located at 221 High St in Middletown, CT. Doors will open at 7:30 PM and the show starts at 8:00 PM.

Set Times
8:00 Featherwood Bee
8:45 Sidewalk Dave
10:00 The Stepkids

The show is free and open to the public! Brought to you by WESU, The Wesleyan Concert Committee & TuneIn, a service which you can use to listen to the world’s radio including WESU. TuneIn is available as a app on all smartphones and tablets and online at TuneIn.com.

The Stepkids put on a very psychedelic live show complete with video projection. The band comes from Bridgeport, CT and is signed to the legendary Stones Throw (owned by Peanut Butter Wolf and home to Madlib and J Dilla (RIP)). They call their music “futuristic electro soul” and their guitarist was once in Alicia Keys‘ touring band. Their debut album, The Stepkids, was released in 2011 and they are set to release a new album, Troubador in 2013.

Sidewalk Dave is a WESU favorite and fellow CT native. Here’s an interview we did with him last November. He plays rock & roll and his last album, Hard on Romance came out last year. Sometimes he wears pants!

Featherwood Bee is a self-described psychedelic merman surf rockin’ band straight out of Middletown, CT.

Here’s the Facebook Event. Enjoy the concerts! WESU loves you.

The WESU Spring Concert Series

 
After the success of our Lecture Series last semester, we at WESU have organized a Spring Concert Series. This series will be free and open to the public. We hope that all our listeners both at Wesleyan and throughout the greater Middletown community will feel welcome to come and enjoy the music together. Here are brief descriptions of the concerts we have planned. More details will be posted soon so stay tuned!
February 22
The Stepkids
Sidewalk Dave
As seen in the video at the top, The Stepkids put on a very psychedelic live show complete with video projection. The band comes from Bridgeport, CT and is signed to the legendary Stones Throw (owned by Peanut Butter Wolf and home to Madlib and J Dilla (RIP)). They call their music “futuristic electro soul” and their guitarist was once in Alicia Keys‘ touring band. Their debut album, The Stepkids, was released in 2011 and they are set to release a new album, Troubador in 2013.
Sidewalk Dave is a WESU favorite and fellow CT native. Here’s an interview we did with him last November. He plays rock & roll and his last album, Hard on Romance came out last year.
March 30
Zammuto
Snowblink
Zammuto is the project of The Books‘ member Nick Zammuto. Like The Stepkids, Zammuto puts on a unique live show that includes video projection. Zammuto’s music is experimental electronic. His debut, Zammuto came out last year.
Snowblink describes themselves as “nondenominational devotional pop from California/Canada.” And their latest album, Inner Classics also came out last year.
April 12
Boldy James
Gifted Higgz 
We covered Boldy James‘ shows at CMJ here. He is an MC from Detroit, who has released two mixtapes, Trapper’s Alley: Pros & Cons in 2011 and Consignment: Favor for a Favor The Redi-Rock Mixtape last year. A collaboration with The Alchemist is due out later this year.
Gifted Higgz is a local Middletown MC. He released his latest track “Killa” in December.
The WESU Spring Concert Series is sponsored by WESU Middletown, the Wesleyan Concert Committee, and TuneIn, a service you can use to listen to WESU on your smartphonedongles.

Vote for WESU as Best College Radio Station!

WESU and Rob DeRosa, host of our local music show, Homegrown, have been nominated in the 2013 Hartford Advocate Reader Poll!

Please support us by voting for WESU in the “College Radio” categories and for Robbie DeRosa as “Best Radio Personality”. You can cast additional ballots for WESU and Robbie DeRosa’s “Homegrown” in the “Media and Education” category under the “Radio station” and “Radio Show” categories.  The Needle Drop is also listed in the “Radio Show” category. Online ballots must be submitted by 11:59pm EST on February 13th
While you are at it, you can also vote for Wesleyan in “local 4 year University”  and for The Green Street Arts Center in the “Arts Center” category. Then, there’s Middletown’s Art Farm in “Local Arts Organization” and Wesleyan CFA in the “College/University Performing” and “College Performing Arts Center” categories. Oddfellows Playhouse is listed in the “Community Theater Co.” category and you can write in The Buttonwood Tree in the “Concert Venue”.  Don’t forget Red Scroll Records in the “Indie CD/Vinyl Store”  category under “Books, Cds, DVDs”. That’s more than 10 suggestions for the 10 required categories one is required to vote in to submit a ballot.

Please spread the word and help WESU get the recognition we deserves as “The Best College/Community Radio Station” in the Hartford Advocate Readers Poll!
  

Tinariwen and the Conflict in Northern Mali/Azawad

Before they released any albums or gained the international acclaim they currently hold, the founding members of Tinariwen spent several years training in a Libyan military training camp. They then fought in a Touareg rebellion against the governments of Mali and Niger in the Southern Sahara. When that conflict ended in 1994, Tinariwen left behind war to concentrate on music. They have since become the most prominent Touareg/Kel Tamashek musicians in the world. Their latest album, 2011′s Tassili features Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone from TV on the Radio, as well as Nels Cline and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band. It won a Grammy for Best World Music Album. The video from the recording sessions of that album is highly recommended.

More after the jump

 

Tinariwen’s music has remained strongly political. Though they formed back in the ’80s in Algeria, the group’s base is Tessalit in Northern Mali, the area that is also known as Azawad. Their people, the Touareg, are nomads, who live primarily in the Saharan area of Mali and Niger. The conflict in this area has now lasted half a century, spanning multiple generations of Touareg rebels. The father of Tinariwen’s leader, Ibrahim Ag Alhabib died in the earliest conflict of the early 60s. Tinariwen literally brought the electric guitar to the Sahara. Ibrahim, a fan of Hendrix and Dylan, built his first guitar (much like the one pictured in the album cover for Imidiwan: Companions) at the age of “four or five.” As he puts it: “Before us, the guitar didn’t exist in Touareg music.” The group has to import amps from Europe because it is impossible to find any “within fifteen hundred kilometres” of their home. While they have introduced the guitar to the Sahara, they have also introduced the world to the Desert Blues, a genre invented by the band. The Desert Blues or Assouf contains elements of traditional Touareg music along with an electrified Western influence that combined sounds like an almost trance-like, highly rhythmic version of the blues. Many of Tinariwen’s songs are about the political struggle of the Touareg, which has  lately drawn international attention and concern.

The current conflict in Northern Mali/Azawad began this year on January 12 when the MNLA (Movement for the Liberation of Azawad), a Touareg rebel group (pictured above), declared the beginning of an insurrection against the government of Mali. The group declared, “The important military operations of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad will continue so long as Bamako does not recognise [sic] this territory as a separate entity.” On April 6, the MNLA went ahead and declared the independence of Azawad from Mali without the recognition of Mali, or, for that matter, that of any other country. Nevertheless, it is clear that the Malian government has lost control of Northern Mali, an area now being fought over by Touaregs and various Islamist groups. Northern Mali/Azawad is also a hotbed for international arms dealers and drug smugglers. Jihadists from Afghanistan and Pakistan have reportedly moved into the area to train militant groups. The situation is so tense in Mali that the interim President, Dioncounda Traore was beaten unconscious by protesters, who may have been allowed into his office by the military. Since June, the MNLA has been engaged in a series of battles with Ansar Dine, an Islamist organization with ties to al Qaeda. Ansar Dine has gained the upper hand in the conflict, and now controls the cities of Northern Mali where it has imposed sharia law. Negotiations have recently begun between Ansar Dine, the MNLA and the Malian government, but the situation remains precarious.

Two days ago, Tinariwen left this status on Facebook: “We are all safe back home in Mali, Assouf Ag Assouf….”Just like the conflict itself, there is no way to exactly predict what Tinariwen will do next. In an interview with Afropop Worldwide, bandmember Abdallah Ag Alhousseini said, “As artists, how we will view [the current conflict], maybe it takes some time. Maybe it will be after a year, maybe more. Because a true artist is never tied to events. Sometimes he sees things 10 years, three years, four years in advance. He sings about an event before the event even happen. Sometimes the events come, but you hear nothing. Because the artist spoke about these events years ago. So we don’t just look at what’s happening today, and sing about that.” Another bandmember, Eyadou Ag Leche told Tamazgha that for their next album, “nous travaillerons dessus dans le désert américain” [We'll be working in the American desert]. It’s hard to be optimistic about the situation in Northern Mali/Azawad, but the idea of Tinariwen working on a new album somewhere in the American desert that may or may not comment on the war gives hope for exciting new music in our future. Regardless of politics, few groups make music as beautiful and powerful as Tinariwen.