Maybe the best way to explain this award is a quick scan of WTMD's playlist from a recent Friday. There's the punk of the Ramones, the classic rock of The Beatles, the country of Sturgill Simpson, the worldly new wave of the Talking Heads--and sprinkled in among these huge names are songs from local artists such as Maggie Rogers, Dan Deacon and Super City.
Scott Mullins, general manager and program director for the local alternative music station, says that placement is very intentional, giving all of those artists an equal amount of respect.
"I don't want a listener to hear something and say, 'Wow, that's pretty good for a local band.' That's not what we're going for."
For several years now, the station has made a point to promote local artists and bring live music to the area. Since moving to Canton Waterfront Park in 2014, the First Thursday concert series has drawn bigger national acts and crowds exceeding 10,000. WTMD has invited fans into the studio for Live Lunch, local artist performances on Baltimore Hit Parade, kid-friendly music during Saturday Morning Tunes and other special events. They've partied out on the street with Brews & Bands and the Towson Rock Block. And the station hops into the early-year award season with its own Baltimore Alternative Music Awards.
New this year: an artist in residence program that invited dream-pop duo Beach House to curate a playlist of songs that inspired the group's sound and take part in a long interview ahead of a homecoming show at the Hippodrome Theatre.
Mullins says so much of what the station does is in service to bolstering local music, both for fans and artists.
"I really believe that a vibrant, rich, healthy music scene can elevate a city. You hear us say on the air all the time, 'Building a better Baltimore, one song at a time.' We believe that."
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