Floating Down The Creek with Wes Griffith
Something very exciting is happening in central Georgia, with Macon’s “The Creek” joining the group of full-time Americana roots-based radio stations. I love that they broadcast from downtown Macon. They are very community-based and their sound honors the South. Here’s a look at what’s going on, from program director, Mid-Morning Ramble co-host, and co-owner Wes Griffith.
Bill Frater: Where and when did you start in radio?
Wes Griffith: I was born in Macon, Georgia, and have always been a strong advocate for celebrating Macon’s musical heritage. I went to Tulane University because it was in New Orleans, my second musical home. I own a restaurant group in town called Moonhanger Group. We operate four restaurants and a music venue called the Cox Capitol Theatre. My partners, Brad Evans and Rob Evans, and I bought a station, WNEX-FM, last July out of bankruptcy and re-branded it as 100.9 The Creek – a commercial, hits-based Americana station. We are located in Macon. I had zero radio experience before this. We brought in a guy from Kentucky named Tony Doolin to show us the ropes.
How do you describe your show?
At the station I am program director and I host the Mid-Morning Ramble weekdays from 9 to noon. Brad Evans does the show with me. We talk a lot about the music we play and what’s happening locally.
How do you prepare for your shows?
I generally stick to normal rotation and spice it up as I feel like it. Being the program director, I’ve already consumed a lot of knowledge about what we play.
How much new releases, old stuff, and independent artists do you play?
We report to the Americana Music Association chart and play a lot of the best in new Americana. I listen to virtually everything that gets mailed to me and seek out any good new roots music I can find. I love to champion independent artists that are not getting the attention they deserve. We also play a lot of old stuff; a lot of it’s Macon-based artists. We are about 60/40 in favor of gold or classic rock, soul, and blues tracks.
What was the first artist or album that got you into roots music?
My parents had a record store in Macon back in the ’70s called Falling Star Records. They ran it while attending college at Mercer University. They got me into a lot of good roots music at an early age. Some of my early loves were Mississippi John Hurt, J.J. Cale, Little Feat, and Wet Willie.
Who are your favorite artists from any genre and what artist define Americana music for you?
I gravitate to soul and blues and traditional country. Charley Crockett is a new artist that really defines the genre for me, in that he pulls off a seamless amalgam of blues, soul, and country. Bobby Rush is a guy we all have loved and championed. We often refer to him as our spirit animal. We may have been the first station in the country to start spinning Porcupine Meat; he won a Grammy for that. We’ve brought him to Macon twice. It’s a pretty intense love affair we have, and the feeling are mutual.
How do you define what Americana music is?
Just American roots music.
Where do you see Americana radio going in the future?
Americana radio should be poised for growth. People seem hungry for authentic music. I think radio is ready for a comeback. If the big companies fall, some independent operators may move in like we have. Hopefully they bring a local approach back.
What recent albums or artists are you excited about?
The Colter Wall debut is great. I mentioned Charley Crockett, his In the Night is fantastic. Angaleena Presley’s new album Wrangled is great. And Jim Lauderdale’s new album London Southern is my favorite of the year so far.
Do you have any other hobbies or interests you wish to share?
I’m usually either fishing, drinking beer, listening to music, or chilling with my wife, Betsy, and our three sons, Wyatt, Jackson, and Knox.