Brad Savage has one of Charlottesville’s most recognizable voices. From talking to local politicians and environmentalists on 106.1 The Corner’s Breakfast Show to interviewing bands and artists on The Corner Lounge, and sharing some of his favorite vinyl cuts on the Brad’s Bin segment, his friendly, enthusiastic voice is hard to miss. It’s clear that this guy loves radio.
“All I have ever wanted to do is talk on the radio and play good music for people,” says Savage.
An album giveaway contest, he says, gave him the idea.
“I think the fascination goes back to when I was about five years old, growing up in Minnesota. My dad won a record album giveaway on station KQRS, and they played his voice on-air from when he called in. I was hooked!”
Savage has been on the air since his junior year of high school, when he did weekend overnights on KLBB Radio in the Twin Cities.
“This station was adult standards/big band format, so we aired Glenn Miller, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, etc.,” says Savage. “I didn’t know any of that music at the time, but that job helped me gain an appreciation for the genre. And the grandparents/great-grandparents across the Twin Cities were patient as I learned how to talk on-the-air and how to actually run a radio program.”
After working at his college radio station, Savage moved around to various cities (such as Ann Arbor, Mich.) and stations before landing in Charlottesville in 2006 to launch WCNR (The Corner) 106.1 FM where, in addition to hosting shows, he serves as Brand Manager and Program Director.
One of his duties is to determine which new songs are put into the station’s rotation. The process, says Savage, is “a fairly involved, detailed process. The station playlist is determined with help from a database program that helps assure we don’t play the same songs or artists in the same hour or same time throughout the week.” It’s a mix of popular songs (played more often) and lesser-known songs are “sprinkled in appropriately.” Savage’s job is to “balance…both established songs that people know and like, as well as choose new artists to introduce that our audience will (hopefully!) enjoy discovering. We try to distill it to the stuff that the radio station believes you should take notice of and discover.”
In order to do that, the station’s DJs have to know their audience (you) and gain their trust through music. That way, says Savage, “when we say ‘Pay attention to these new acts,’ we are rewarding [listeners’] time investment by broadening their horizons.”
How, then, does a DJ find new music? Savage keeps an eye on the playlists of other radio stations that he admires [most stations have live streams], being sure to pay attention to new songs and new acts he hasn’t heard yet. “Plus, there’s exposure coming from countless new platforms, such as Shazam local results or download sales, TV commercials and movie trailers. We watch those for indicators,” says Savage. The Corner team also pays attention to band appearances on late night talk shows, Saturday Night Live, and other high-profile television programs. He credits fellow Corner DJ Jeff Sweatman with keeping tabs on various music blogs and indie buzz and sharing good tunes that are still swimming below the surface.
“Finally, we just listen to music and if it seems good and seems like our audience will like it…we play it!,” says Savage.
For his Tuning In selections, Savage put together a list of 10 songs, old and new, that he says “are top-of-mind right now.” No database, just a DJ and his tunes.