By: Phillip Jones
There’s much more than meets the eye to WERS. Of course, we’re talking about a radio station here, so there isn’t all that much you DO see anyway. Probably just the logo and our website. Maybe you live in Boston and can walk past the station to see our lovely control room, or maybe you’ve met our promotions team at a show. You’ve seen no more than most. But inside…. Past the website, and the street team, and the giant glass windows on Tremont St, there’s some interesting treasures.
The Standing Room Only CD collection is unbelievable; literally a room full of shoe boxes of music. I’m personally a fan of one of our older sound boards, real wood trim! Then there’s the Newsroom, an absolute beehive on Fridays nights as dozens of reporters scramble to finish that weeks “You Are Here”. All of these things are truly SIGHTS; all the more amazing because of the incredible sound (that Frequency at 88.9) they produce.
I think the best kept secret in the station is in the Live Studio. Tucked against the back wall, behind rows of microphone cables, is our Steinway. The WERS Baby Grand is a remarkable keyboard for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I could not tell you for the life of me how it got into the room. It’s large enough I would not be surprised I was told the station built around it. Second; it never fails to exert a power over anyone who plays it.
Having hosted a round dozen Live Mixes here, I always look forward to the artists seeing the Steinway. From Mew to Ra Ra Riot, the Steinway has a strong impact on the musicians. They’ll often test it out, just a few keys, and immediately decide to leave their synthesizers in the van. Sometimes, it even causes them to change their set, just for a chance to play it.
That was how we ended our recent Live Music Week. The last artist booked was Flock of Dimes (Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak, and co conspirators). The band lit up when they saw the keyboard and I remember they almost immediately said “we have to use this”. What followed was a half hour of on the spot arranging completed just in time for the mix to air. If you were listening on October 30th, at 5:20 in the evening, you heard a version of the song “Semaphore” that had never been attempted before. This is the stuff that keeps us coming back to the radio: that extra element of humanness, an artist who can decide to completely change a song on the spot, and a piano up to the task.
There’s magic inside WERS. Keep listening. You never know when you’ll hear the Steinway next.