When the Music's Over...
Whole Wheat Radio and its mission of providing a grassroots, all-volunteer, donation supported website and webcast that competently and without mainstream advertising supports independent musicians and their craft is offline.
With these words founder Jim Kloss ended a musical adventure that made my, and many others' I am sure, days more pleasant. At any hour I could instantly tap into a stream of fine music by a wide, wide array of musicians, songwriters and poets. Some better than others but all interesting. I can barely begin to name the many musicians I heard first and only on WWR: Danny Schmidt, The Clumsy Lovers, Girlyman, John Flynn, Small Potatoes, Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie, Emily Kurn, Kristina Olsen, Trish Murphy,... You get the idea.
House concerts at WWR were a wonderful opportunity to hear live music. Even without video, a house concert was an intimate expereince; I could hear the audience and participate in a live chat. A house concert during the 2005 Winter Solstice was a holilday recital by Talkeetna piano students,a small town community experience shared round the world.
From the listening end, it was great. Probably less great on the operating side, as is evident from Jim's letter of resignation. A work of love turned into a job and as, everybody knows, jobs suck. Work can be energizing, a job rarely so. He made the right call. Jim is now free to open some new doors.
WWR's demise is certainly a loss. Not only for my enjoyment but also for the many artists who found listeners there. I'm sure they have other outlets but few are likely to be as open and independent as WWR. All that said, WWR demonstrated and used the possibilities of the internet to create a lively and dynamic model. One lesson from all that is that grassroots, independent efforts are possible. Maybe other visionaries will build on the experience to create yet another model. Who knows? What I do know is that for over five years I have had access to a LOT of fine music.
My connection to WWR goes beyond my listening experience. My friend Cile (whose blog has lots of links to musicians often heard on WWR)introduced me to WWR in 2003 when she planned her 50th birthday in Talkeetna. Maggie and I were in Alaska then and met her there. Jim and Esther were part of that celebration and I had the opportunity to meet them in their 12 x 12 plywood shack, WWR's original home. By September 2003, they had added a small studio wing but the computer and cables still took about a quarter of their sleeping loft. It was a tight fit. Knowing the people and place behind the webcast made it all that more personal.
Thanks, Jim. I hope you find much joy and wonder when you open those future doors.