The Syndicate, Metal Insider’s parent company, is a promotion and marketing company that has championed the metal scene for almost 15 years. In our weekly Radio Spotlight, we’ll offer a look behind the scenes of metal radio from some of the stations and outlets playing metal that the Syndicate works with to spotlight the newest underground music on the airwaves and the people that bring it to you. Read on for a glimpse behind the scenes of a metal radio oasis in Alabama and a show on the eve of its debut, followed by a brief look at some new records making their way to the airwaves, courtesy of the Syndicate.
Featured station: WLJS (Jacksonville, AL)
Jacksonville State University
Where’s the metal?
WLJS knows its local audience, and it’s not uncommon to hear metal blended into regular daytime rotation. There are four specialty shows as well: Revolution Radio Tuesdays 7-9pm CST (Christian metal), The Industrial Scream Wednesdays 5-7pm (the newest show, focused on industrial metal), Iron Age Wednesdays 7-10pm (classic metal), and Trainwreck Wednesdays 10-1pm (the catch-all new metal show).
What’s going on here?
Billy ‘Pharaoh’ Ramsey claims to be descended from Egyptian royalty, and judging from the dominance he’s carved out for WLJS in Alabama’s metal radio scene, it doesn’t feel like he’s exaggerating. “I take great pride in saying that we together have become the dominant source for metal in our area,” Ramsey says. “We play the newest music, have the best interviews, and stay focused on the main priority: the music.”
That would seem like a simple generality, but the staggering amount of work Ramsey puts in continues to pay off. Though he’s technically the metal director, Ramsey has also been the station’s production director and program director in the past and has handled all of the station’s music when needed. WLJS was shortlisted by CMJ last year for Most Improved Station due largely to his hustle, and for a station that incorporates some National Public Radio programming in daylight hours, the absolute pile of metal music and artist interviews Ramsey and his co-hosts bring onto the air feels all the more vital.
“I think one of my favorite interviews would have to be Mike Portnoy,” Ramsey says. “To be able to speak to someone that has his talent when it comes to drumming was amazing for me, being a drummer myself. Another would be Burton C. Bell of Fear Factory; Burton was a very fun interview as well and very easy to talk to. I have not only been able to interview these artists, but I have also become friends with them and stay in touch with them between interviews. Jake [Luhrs] and Matt [Greiner] of August Burns Red and Ben Bruce of Asking Alexandria are just a few of the people that I have gotten pretty tight with.”
Industrial metal has quite a following at WLJS, and The Industrial Scream is Ramsey’s latest attempt to tap into metal fandom in the South. Set to debut next week, it’s also part of Ramsey’s goal to further professionalize the underdog station. “We are looking to make a name for ourselves in the world of radio. We want commercial radio to stand up and take notice that the ‘new guys’ are doing it and doing it better, faster and cleaner than the rest,” Ramsey says, as super-tight transitions between songs and listener-friendly news and interviews stand among his designs for the show. “Once I graduate from JSU, I do plan to continue my education in audio engineering at Middle Tennessee State University. Who knows, maybe I will just move the Scream to Tennessee when I go!”
Preview hour from The Industrial Scream (set to air next week):
Fear Factory – The Industrialist (Weekly theme)
Rammstein – Mein Land
Star Killer – As the Sky is Falling
Oomph! – Supernova
Wayne Static – Thunder Invader
Marilyn Manson – If I Was Your Vampire
Imperative Reaction – Siphon
Megaherz – Himmelfahrt
Panzer AG – God Eats God
Fear Factory – God Eater
System Syn – God Damn
CombiChrist – God Bless
KMFDM – Rebels in Kontrol
Eisbrecher – Goth Killer
New at Metal Radio This Week:
Encrust – “Predatory Skin” (Density)
Formerly known as Hunters, this Chicago-based stoner-death band fuses multiple extreme metal styles together into a ridiculously intense machine.
Candlelight Red – Demons (Imagen)
Candlelight Red’s new EP was produced by Morgan Rose of Sevendust and goes a long way toward justifying their high-profile slot on this year’s Uproar Festival.
The Syndicate, Metal Insider’s parent company, is a promotion and marketing company that has championed the metal scene for almost 15 years. For radio promotion, street marketing, publicity, event marketing and brand consultation in the world of metal, contact us here.