Boosting your frequency with LoyalBrew

WNRN is not your typical radio station. It’s an independent, local radio station based out of Charlottesville, Virginia, which has grown over the years to include several other markets. We spoke with Ian Solla-Yates, WNRN’s Development Director, about the station and how it’s using LoyalBrew.

WNRN started out with a signal in Charlottesville in 1996. Now you are broadcasting in Richmond, Harrisonburg, Lynchburg, Lexington, and all places in between. Given that NRN started before Napster and streaming music, how has the radio station continued to be so successful?

Radio has had competition for as long as it’s been around. There are plenty of places to find music and discover new music. We’ve found success by focusing on the things that streaming services can’t deliver. The biggest shortcoming of XM, Spotify or any of these services is that they can not be local. On WNRN, you hear bands from Virginia, announcements about upcoming shows and businesses in your area and stories about non-profits that are strengthening the community. Reaching from Harrisonburg to Hampton Roads makes delivering a local-sounding station to each city a challenge, but we address this by segmenting out our messages so that Charlottesville and Richmond can hear different, localized announcements at the same time. In some ways, services like Napster ended up making our jobs easier. They exposed generations of music fans to the types of artists that became the core of WNRN’s music playlist in the early 2000s.

WNRN success

How is WNRN using LoyalBrew?

WNRN is using LoyalBrew to promote our new signal in Harrisonburg. For years, we broadcast on 95.1FM, which had low power and poor reception in the area. Now on 98.9, we serve the area with a much stronger signal. Feedback has all been very positive. Because we lost control of 95.1 at the moment 98.9 signed on, we are using LoyalBrew and some other outlets to spread the word that we have moved. 

WNRN in Harrisonburg on 98.9

Anyone who completes the WNRN passport is entered into a contest for tickets to next year’s Red Wing Music Festival. Can you tell us a little about the festival?

Red Wing Roots Music Festival is a 3 day music festival outside of Harrisonburg. It was organized by a couple of Harrisonburg natives, Jeremiah Jenkins and Michael Weaver. We just wrapped up the 10th festival. WNRN has run the beer garden at Red Wing since the very beginning. Each year features a different lineup of diverse roots artists across genres. This year featured Robert Randolph, Old Crow Medicine Show, Watchhouse, The Suffers and Sierra Ferrell. It’s held at Natural Chimneys Park, which can only hold a few thousand people. It’s very relaxed compared to a lot of festivals out there and it draws a multigenerational audience. My dad and my kids go every year. 

WNRN at Red Wing Roots Music Festival
WNRN at Red Wing Roots Music Festival

Last, but not least, what are you listening to currently? Any good recommendations?

I mostly just listen to the radio station, so my playlist is the station’s playlist. Lately, I’ve been enjoying Wilson Springs Hotel out of Richmond. Genesis Owusu is a lot of fun, too. We’re playing a song by This is the Kit and the chorus goes “I choo choo choose you”. As an old school Simpsons fan, I get a kick out of that every time. 

Genesis Owusu

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