Americana has come to the flagship station of country music, 650 AM WSM. The new station is Route 650, and it’s streaming on the WSM website. The new outlet demonstrates the growing strength of Americana music, and the fact that those who like it really, really like it. And since a lot of Americana music draws directly from traditional country, it’s fitting for WSM to take the format under its wing.
The iconic country station celebrated the launch of Route 650 on Tuesday, Sept. 12, at a tony press reception held in the Roy Acuff house adjacent to the Grand Ole Opry House. The reception included remarks from WSM General Manager Chris Culick, Senior Vice President of Artist Relations Sally Williams, and the new major domo of Route 650, Assistant Program Director Eric Marcum, as well as a short performance by Margo Price.
“I’m choosing the music, so I’m music director as well,” Marcum says. “We’ve brought in a new digital program director, J Patrick Tinnell, who’s going to oversee all our digital initiatives, including our presence on YouTube and on SoundCloud; and he will be overseeing the structure of the Facebook Live and other aspects of our digital presence online. Charlie Mattos, who is on the morning team at WSM 650, will be doing a monthly series called Americana Trail. It’ll focus on influential Americana artists, along with works from artists who blazed the Americana trail.”
“Occasionally, we’ll take the show live from various locations,” Marcum continues. “The plan is to keep the station as automated as possible, with real people, so we get prerecorded announcements from the artists And we plan in the future to go live.”
The station will feature blocks of programming from artists around town hosting their own shows. The Wild Ponies (Doug & Telisha Williams) will revive their Whiskey Wednesday show, a former staple of the late, lamented East Nashville Radio.
“It’s been a real dream for us,” Doug Williams says. “We love WSM so much, and we know how lucky we are to get to do this. The history around it is just incredibly humbling. We listen to WSM all the time anyway, and we love how they honor the history, but also look towards the future and give real artists a place for their songs to be heard. It’s exciting.”