In Memoriam – WXNA DJ Bill Verdier

Above: Bill Verdier, Ireland, circa 1984, Photo by Joanne Van Voorhis

All of us at WXNA were shocked and saddened by the news that Bill Verdier, host of Down the Back Lane, passed away on Friday, February 25, 2022 at the age of 64.

Bill was a member of WXNA’s “First Class” of DJs, showcasing the best in Celtic music on WXNA every Sunday afternoon since we first took to the air in June 2016, along with being a first-class musician and a cheerleader for Nashville’s local Celtic music scene. He was also an enthusiastic supporter of the station, working at many of our events with always a kind and friendly word for everyone he met. He embodied the best of “community radio” in everything he did for the station.

We asked Bill’s Down the Back Lane co-host, Kevin Donovan, to write a few words in memory of Bill, and he supplied this moving tribute.

It has been a privilege for me to co-host Down the Back Lane with Bill the last couple of years. Bill’s work as a DJ is an offshoot of his activity as a musician, and the show has greatly benefited from some of the same aspects of his personality that made him such a respected fiddler and arranger.

The respect and affection he inspired on and off the air is evident in the many social media posts mourning his passing from players of the music he championed, nurtured, and sustained in middle Tennessee. His vast and deep knowledge of Irish traditional music and related musical traditions enriched both the show and his playing.

I learned much about the living culture of the music from listening to the show before being invited to join him, and I continued to learn much from him in the studio. In addition, Bill’s taste and judgment were always strengths of his programming as well as his playing. So was the passion he brought to the tradition he fiercely loved, both as a player and a programmer. His lively wit and sense of humor certainly benefited the show, but they were also aspects of the great sense of fun and vitality that likewise enlivened his playing in sessions and performances. I honor and cherish the memory of our friendship, conversations, and musical exchanges, and I mourn his loss.
— Kevin Donovan, March 2, 2022

Down the Back Lane will carry on in Bill’s spirit in its usual time slot, Sundays 4-6 p.m. CT


“Most of our geniuses leave early. They leave us their legacy. They leave us their music and the music lives on forever.”
-Amp Fiddler

A Tribe Called Quest
The Roots
The Pharcyde
Erykah Badu
Busta Rhymes
De La Soul
Black Star
Janet Jackson
Ghostface Killa
Slum Village

This list represents some of the cornerstones of the second golden age of hip-hop. James Yancy was the conductor that helped ring in that second age. A period where beats and verses were dense, “bling” was merely a sample that you may grab from a Raymond Scott album to add track texture, and producers were starting to step out from behind their MPC’s and 808’s to become superstars in their own light.

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New Show: Reggae University

By Ahmid Sesay (Star)

Reggae University airs Wednesday nights at 9pm ct

What is Reggae? How does Reggae sound? This answer will vary depending on how many people you ask and the era in which they grew up. What is Reggae to me? Reggae is African music. Reggae is spiritual music. Reggae is educational music. How does Reggae sound? A baseline, rhythm guitar, and a one drop beat. It is African music because it resonates with Africans. I was born in Sierra Leone. The majority of my Reggae knowledge comes from being around my late father and my uncles. That is where my inspiration for music was born. The message in the music shows that we share a cultural bond and fight the same struggles universally. Reggae IS a culture.

I focus mostly on Roots Reggae. When I say “roots,” folks quickly associate that with “old school” reggae. Roots is just what most know to be the original style before Dancehall came in and took over. In my opinion, the two are not the same genre. Dancehall is to Reggae what Rap is to R&B. They come from the same people and culture, but they’re extremely different. I dislike the fact that when one is looking for Reggae, Dancehall is often first offered. That bothers me. If I’m hungry and tell you I want Curry, don’t give me jerk. Same culture, different food. Reggae is a style of music. It creates a melodic, yet relaxed vibration. Just because a man chats Patois on a song doesn’t make it Reggae.

That’s why I chose the name “Reggae University” for my show. I aim to teach people about Reggae from ALL eras. Being that I’ve never stepped foot in Jamaica but have a great knowledge of the music, I want to show the POWER of Reggae. Reggae music is a music full of activists. One would like to credit the Rastafarian faith, but it’s not just the Rastas. Jimmy Cliff, Culture, Burning Spear, Bunny Wailer, Peter, and of course Bob are just a few of the “activists” in Reggae. Most people know those names. I want to extend their knowledge to artists like Justin Hinds, The Maytones, and more. I also want to focus on educating people on the newer Roots Reggae artists like Romain Virgo, Lila Ike, Naomi Cowan, Protoje and more. Mi ave nuff fi teach unu (I have a lot to teach you all)!

The message in Reggae, especially in the earlier days, taught the Black race, wherever they may be in the world, to focus on and to cherish Africa. It is our home. It taught us the teachings of Marcus Garvey. It taught about peace and love. The beauty of Reggae is that you can never learn nor have enough. I have crates of records and boxes of cds and still feel like I need to double the amount of what I have. First you start with Bob Marley, then next it may be Gregory Isaacs, then Culture, then Morgan Heritage or Luciano. The music has a deep, rich history that I hope will be revered more as time progresses. So….when you’re chanced, come a mi school and sit dung inna de front row. Its a serious ting mi deh pon…..Reggae University.

WXNA Thanks You!

WXNA thanks you — our generous listeners — for helping us not only meet but exceed our fundraising goal for our fall pledge drive. Your support will help make sure this station continues to grow and thrive. We are so grateful that you are the people in #peoplepoweredradio.

Tis’ the Season

‪Tis’ the season! If you want to find the coolest gifts, head on over to and check out our fantastic selection of swag, including our brand new “Best of Nashville 2018” long sleeve shirt. And the 2017 shirt is now on sale!

Happy Holidays from WXNA :gift: