Chickenshack 101

By - Nov 1st, 2006 02:52 pm
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By Jonathan P. Ziegler

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WMSE has always had a commitment to local music of all types. However, other than blues programming, the station never really had a long-term show that was 100 percent dedicated to roots music. The Chickenshack was started in the Summer of 1997 for the dual purpose of spotlighting historic/forgotten roots artists and providing a platform for local and up and coming acts to be heard. Over nine years later, the mission is still the same and the show is even broader in spectrum.

The strength of the show is in its diversity. You can hear honky-tonk, western swing, rockabilly, bluegrass, old-timey music, blues, rhythm and blues, rock & roll, singer songwriter even a little folk and some soul from time to time. On any given Friday you can hear music ranging from field recordings of people who never even played on a proper stage to artists like The Cramps. To me it all fits under the roots/Americana umbrella.

The show has been and will always be a key venue for promotion of local artists and for the club owners willing to stick their necks out and book roots music. I try to make the show as accessible for these people as possible. Whenever a new roots band starts playing out in the area I get an email or a phone call from them and I am thrilled to be able to help them with airplay and live in-studio appearances and interviews. Being a musician, I fully grasp the importance and responsibility of having a forum like this.

Throughout the years the support that I have received from artists and fans of the music has been overwhelming. When I started the show, I would have never dreamed that it would have the loyal listenership that it does. I feel like a proud papa when I see the Chickenshack shirts and stickers around town. It also serves as a reminder that the listeners take this kind of music very personally – who hasn’t choked up when they hear a Johnny Cash song in the last couple of years? And the people expect a high level of quality in the music that I play on the show. I’m always looking for the best songs and best performances by the artists I put on the air and will continue to do so. I only wish that I had a longer show so I could play more music.

Jonny Z.’s Chickenshack can be heard Fridays from 9 am to noon on 91.7 FM, WMSE.

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