Long Distance Dedication: Pete Wilson

DJ Rhatfink of The Continental appreciates Pete Wilson

Just as the soundtrack to American Graffiti changed my life in the 1970s, so too did DJ Pete Wilson, beginning in the early 2000s with his seminal show, Nashville Jumps!

George Lucas’s film, American Graffiti (1973), sent me down the rabbit hole of rock and roll as a young listener. What an amazing soundtrack! I loved that music so much that I had my father make me reel-to-reel tapes of nothing but classic oldies but goodies like The Five Satins, Bo Diddley and Etta James. I played those over and over again until the tapes wore thin. The bedrock rock of DJ Rhatfink is rock and roll. Yet there was still more to discover as I found out when I started listening to DJ Pete Wilson and his outstanding, long-running radio show Nashville Jumps! This was radio manna from heaven coming to us from out of the past to the here and now, flinging open the musical doors of my proto-rocker brain with tunes from Cab Calloway, Louis Jordan, Wynonie Harris and so many more! Pete plays nothing but the finest early unbleached rock n’ roll, boogie woogie, jazz and jump blues every Friday morning and has helped me continue a family tradition. Just as my dad shared mix tapes with me, I have had the pleasure of sharing Nashville Jumps! with my daughter as I took her to school. History lessons have never been more fun. Thank you, Pete! Long may you continue to spin those big 10-inch records.

Long Distance Dedication: DJ Rhatfink

DJ Pete of Nashville Jumps appreciates DJ Rhatfink

For “The Continental,” Rhatfink spreads his net WIDE to collect a startlingly wide variety of songs on each week’s theme. He does themes better than just about anybody, and I’m a sucker for a show that follows Lord Sitar with Lou Rawls. But what I like best is his talk breaks. They are performances in themselves. I remember reading once that when talking to a baby, you should vary your voice a lot–soft to loud, high to low, swoops and drops–to keep the baby entertained and paying attention. I resolved to do that as a DJ, but my delivery at its best is a little sloppy.. Rhatfink, you are a far better baby-entertainer than I could ever be.

Meet Your Wizards: Laura Powers

Wherein we pull back the curtain for a personal visit with one of the wonderful wizards of the X. In this case, the DJ keeping us on Needles + Pins weekly — Laura Powers.

Born: Knoxville, Tennessee
Home: Nashville, Tennessee
Drafted into WXNA: 2014
Spins: Right
Fades: Right

I fell in love with independent radio back in high school when I discovered WUTK, the University of Tennessee’s student-run radio station. Doing Needles+Pins each week makes me feel like that 13-year-old kid hearing the B-52’s for the first time. In an increasingly algorithmic world, I love that WXNA is a place where you can still be surprised and excited by music, whether it’s brand new or just new to you.

Most played song:Sonic Reducer” by Dead Boys

Vinyl, CD or mp3? All of the above. Love LPs but definitely not a format snob.

Fave WXNA shows: Runout Numbers, Bedazzled Paradigm Jukebox, Punk Not Punks

Pinch-me moment: Throwing an on-air dance party with Vanessa from Pylon

When I die: Sprinkle my ashes in the New Arrivals section at Wax’n’Facts in Atlanta

Long Distance Dedication: Randy Fox


Big Chief Chaz of Gilded Splinters appreciates Randy Fox

I used to be scared of Jerry Reed, mostly because the song “Amos Moses” was blasted at top volume on the Matterhorn ride at the Allegan County Fair. Jerry’s raucous cackling with thumping funk backing was ominous in a way unmatched by “Free Ride” or “Space Trucking”… Smokey and the Bandit sanded off some rough edges, sure — but he still made me nervous.

I’ve grown since then; now when I think of Jerry Reed, I hear the joy and hilarity of “Guitar Man,” “US Male,” “Lord, Mr. Ford,” or a half dozen others played by Randy Fox on the HIPBILLY JAMBOREE every Saturday on WXNA.

Thanks, Randy!

Meet Your Wizards: Ashley Crownover

Born: Sixth-generation Nashvillian, but
Number of states lived in: 9
Drafted into WXNA: 2011
Show: Friday Friday, Fridays from 7-8 a.m.

I helped found WXNA, mostly by providing massive quantities of unrestrained enthusiasm. I discovered non-mainstream music during my teen years in the ‘80s thanks to the University of Tennessee’s WUTK and Vanderbilt’s dearly departed WRVU, while my love for ‘60s and ‘70s rock comes straight from my dad’s record collection. These days I learn about new music by listening to my fellow WXNA DJs (and, I’m ashamed to admit, via Spotify’s weird algorithms).

Artist Obsession: David Bowie Forever

Favorite WXNA DJ Collaborators: Jonathan Grigsby (Dance Party XNA) and Michael Roark (Hazy Ways)

Biggest (and Funnest) Challenge as a DJ: Playing ear-catching new music in addition to my beloved “oldies”

Most Awkward DJ Experience: When I phone interviewed Denny Laine of Wings and was so in awe I could barely speak. The most notable thing about it was his boredom

Something Listeners May Not Know About Me: In 2008 I wrote a retelling of Beowulf from the female characters’ point of view (Wealtheow: Her Telling of Beowulf, Iroquois Press), and in 2016 I published a children’s book called Nashville Boo (Reedy Press) featuring the ghost of Hank Williams as narrator.

Meet Your Wizards: Sirena Wilson

Born: Nashville, Tennessee
Home: Inglewood, East Nashville
Drafted into WXNA: 2018
Shows: Music for Grownups, Bring Out Your Dead

In the 20-oughts, Sirena loved to listen to two DJs: Bob Parlocha, host of the syndicated show Jazz with Bob Parlocha, and Pete Wilson, host of Nashville Jumps on Vanderbilt University’s WRVU. In the teens, both jocks suffered major blows: Pete’s station died in 2011, and Bob died in 2015. Sirena was cheered to find out, though, that a group of ex-RVU jocks, including Pete, were suffering years-long withdrawal symptoms and trying to get a brand new station off the ground. Miraculously, they succeeded. Sirena attended an event held by the new station in the summer of 2016, found out which of the middle-aged boys was Pete, and introduced herself. A little less than two years later they were married. Before honeymooning in England, they spent a couple of hours the day after the wedding doing Pete’s Sunday show Music for Grownups together. As she did in Pete’s life as well, Sirena morphed from guest to partner, and now she’s the better half of Music for Grownups. As DJ Indigo, she’s also one of the growing rotation of DJs who take turns hosting Bring Out Your Dead. She spent many happy days as a Deadhead and brings flair and savvy to her presentation of the Dead and related bands, Dead-inspired groups, and related musicians like Elizabeth Cotten.

Salina at Tomato Art FestYou may not be surprised when I tell you this is Pete writing this. You surely will not be surprised when I say Sirena is my favorite DJ. I admire her great work as host of Bring Out Your Dead, but her co-hosting of Music for Grownups is closer to my heart. Before WXNA went on the air I knew I wanted to do a show of good old pre-rock pop music, jazz vocals and show tunes. To my mind when I was a youngster in the 60s and 70s, Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee and Nat King Cole were the Music for Grownups–NOT the Eagles or the Stones or the Allman Brothers or even the Beatles. I wanted a show that would appeal to the inner adult inside each of us. Or even the inner nerd–at one point I wanted to call the show “Music for Squares,” which I guess might have been heavier on polkas and Lawrence Welk. Randy is still mad that I abandoned that name, but I wasn’t sure listeners would want to self-identify as Squares.

STOP TALKING ABOUT YOURSELF PETE! I was just leading up to why the show is better with Sirena. Each week we choose some themes, or songwriters to celebrate, or we find out whose birthday it is, and sift through stacks and stacks of CDs (we may be old-fashioned but not so much that we play phonograph records on the show!) to find great and appropriate songs. So many times Sirena has stumbled across an intriguing title that led to a three-minute gold mine. She finds cuts that sound great in succession but contrast enough to keep the ears perked, and has a great ear for a witty lyric. Working together, we’ve come to love many particular singers in common–Lee Wiley, Matt Dennis, and the king of them all, Bobby Short–while also individually claiming certain songs as our own pets. For Sirena those include “Big Spender” from the show Sweet Charity, Bobby Short’s cut of “I’m in Love Again,” and Stacey Kent’s version of “He Loves and She Loves.” Kent herself is an example of something else Sirena brought to the show: contemporary performers whose styles and choices absolutely fit our premise. Kent and Harry Connick Jr., for two examples. The contemporary crooner she’s championed most is the handsome singing archivist Michael Feinstein, whom we both call Candy Face out of love and respect. What’s more, Sirena’s playful enthusiasm on the air makes our talk breaks a blessing. She is audibly pumped about introducing our listeners to standards of the Great American Songbook.

Also, she rustles up new PSAs for the station. SO MANY NEW PSAs!

Pete Wilson, Nashville Jumps

WXNA at Southern Festival of Books!

Editor’s Note: We asked WXNA DJ Leslie to report back from this year’s Southern Festival of Books, and DJ Laura Powers  provided some photos and videos below of our WXNA stage featuring some of our favorite local artists as well as a tribute to beloved late songwriter, David Berman. Check it out, and join us next year!

This year’s Southern Festival of Books did not disappoint, as it kept it’s visitors bound together downtown at the plaza and library for three cheery days with live music, good food, prolific authors, and a ton of books, eliciting many meaningful discussions. Highlights for me included author Ottessa Moshfegh (My Year of Rest and Relaxation) and, of course,  Friday afternoon when WXNA hosted the Music Stage on Legislative Plaza.

Karina Daza kicked things off at the Music Stage on Friday afternoon with a mesmerizing set of Latin-influenced soul. Kyle Hamlett Uno followed with a set of beautifully poetic acoustic tunes, and WXNA’s own Anne McCue had us spellbound with her set of songs that blended the personal and the political. The day ended with a tribute to the dearly missed musician and poet David Berman that reminded us of the power that words and art have to create community.

– Leslie Hermsdorfer

Daniel Pujol reading the poem titled “Interregnum Strange” that he wrote for the David Berman tribute.

DJ Juanny Cash spinning records

Anne McCue Performs

Karina Daza

Kyle Hamlett

How Playing Music Has Helped with Making Music

Our very own DJ Anne McCue was recently quoted in a feature on how her show “Songs on the Wire” influences her work as a musician and songwriter: “For two hours every week, I’m listening to new music,” McCue says. “That’s been an incredibly inspiring experience. It’s really expanded my mind. That’s really helped with my creativity. You have to let go of the music business and just get back into the music.”

Little may our listeners know, Anne isn’t the only musician-DJ at WXNA. Read below to see how curating a radio show has informed the music-making of several of our DJs, and vice versa!


“I think, to a lot of musicians, listening and playing are almost inseparable. If you think of the most awful, confused, disjointed band you’ve ever seen, the foundation of their horribleness was probably a lack of listening. The act of listening, sometimes seen as mere fertilizer used to serve the playing / creation, is really the soil itself – at least half of the entire equation. If you are a musician, compare the flow states achieved when playing with a tight band where the synergy is palpable and powerful, and being absorbed into a beautiful record through headphones or what-have-you. They are not the same, but I think they’re intrinsically linked. If you’re not a musician, you actually are! Haha. Gotchya. At least if you’ve ever actually listened to music, you’re already most of the way there. For myself, combining the practice of listening with the communal nature of terrestrial radio broadcasting, makes for a ritual that directly informs and encourages good, perceptive performing. Come all, let’s listen deeply together!”

-DJ Trev of Our Golden Tones; making music as Trevor Nikrant and in Styrofoam Winos.


“The link between deejaying and creating music can be identified as mutual growth. All of us should strive to master our chosen craft and ideally we can link different creative endeavors to inform one another. For instance, if a musician is exploring a new genre that technically challenges them, why not explore similar music while deejaying on the radio? For a DJ it is important to allot time in the week to sit down, drop a needle on a record and listen to uncharted territory.  The unknown is the edge of understanding and future growth. As the student, if we only study what we know, then the creative in us has been sealed in a box, only to imitate our narrow scope of understanding. The next time a creative block obstructs our output, it may be time to listen to worlds and stories we do not know, because they may become our own.”

-DJ Brer Sunshine of The Black Gold Historical Society; making music as Brer Sunshine.


If you are a musician, how do you know when something is Done? Good? Decent? Listenable? Play it on the radio. The radio does not lie.  The airwaves are more Democratic than the Bill of Rights. Is loud or just full of volume? Does it sound deep or bassy? Is it loud or dynamic?  As a DJ, I’m flummoxed (flabbergasted) and surprised at how often records made by cool people under cool circumstances–impeccably dressed with excellent smelling hair tonic wearing never-seen-in-stores posh vines–will make records that do not hold up the thrilling prom-heard-round-the-block chaos that is The Kingsman’s “Louie, Louise,” the steel factory smoke of Bo Diddley’s “Pretty Thing,” or the shiny chrome of B.B. King’s “She’s Dynamite.”  

– Paul Burch of Works Progress Radio Hour; making music as Paul Burch.


“When Shout, Sister, Shout! used to be late at night, I’d often leave a show I’d either played or attended and race on over to the station with a new record in hand from the merch table. I loved cueing up some brand new vinyl and trying to quickly track down a song I’d just heard over at Betty’s or wherever. Nothing seemed more appropriate for Nashville’s airwaves than an echo of her own shows, still hovering in the air. I think there is a natural overlap between performing and playing music on the radio in their real-time urgency, their inescapable live-ness, never existing in isolation or a vacuum, like how recording or writing can sometimes be. Curating a playlist helps me think about “flow”– the way songs can move in succession as almost a meta-song of its own, another art form altogether. Doing this helps me to consider “flow” in my own music– how I want to ease into the hour or so of programming, how I want to transition or pause, when to play a cover song, etc. Digging for radio gems also keeps me on my toes with listening to new stuff for inspiration and never drawing solely upon the same well of influences over and over again.”

-DJ LT of Shout, Sister, Shout!; making music as Lou Turner and in Styrofoam Winos.