Club & Greek

Local Artists Shine at WMCX’s 24-Hour Music Fest

Student radio station WMCX hosted their eighth annual 24-Hour Music Fest on Friday, March 13, beginning at 9 am at their headquarters in the Jules L. Plangere Center for Communication. The event continued into Saturday, March 14 and concluded that morning at 9 am. 

The WMCX staff kicked off the University’s spring break by occupying their studio for a full twenty-four hours of live music. They invited both local artists and student musicians to perform live sets over the air. Over the years, the radio station has alternated between a 12-hour and 24-hour format for the event, but this year marked a long-awaited return to the twenty-four hour version. 

The radio station held its inaugural 24-Hour Music Fest during the spring 2007 semester when the organization’s advisor, Dr. Aaron Fergason, proposed the idea to that year’s student executive board. “I went to graduate school at Emerson College, and they did an entire week of live music at their radio station,” he said. “I thought we could at least try a twenty-four hour version. It’s a good way for people to hear great local music.” 

Since then, the event has grown and its range of performers diversified. “We’ve had signed bands, student bands, and we’ve had local musicians,” Fergason said regarding the types of performers WMCX has hosted for the 24-Hour Music Fest over the years. “It started off mostly with just local bands, but then student bands got involved, and we’ve even had some signed bands like Smithereens play here.” 

University senior and current WMCX General Manager Danielle Gertz made the decision to host the 24-hour format along with the other members of the radio station’s student executive board. To acquire talent, they had to contact musicians through a variety of different means to fill twenty-four time slots, each allowing a performer an hour-long live set over the air. 

“I began by reaching out to bands who have played live at our radio station before,” Gertz said. “From there, I started asking bands whom I’ve met at local venues, and I also reached out on social media to gather more performers.” 

Some artists who have performed at 24-Hour Music Fest’s past incarnations did indeed return to play again. New Jersey-based songwriter Julian Fulton returned for his second appearance and played an afternoon acoustic set. “I played here two years ago with a full backing band,” Fulton said. “It’s so nice to be around people who are passionate about music. When they asked me to play again, I said I definitely would.” 

Along with Fulton, other notable local musicians made appearances, such as the popular Asbury Park-based alternative rock band, Deal Casino. Some students involved with the University’s new record label, Blue Hawk Records also participated, including Natalie Zeller and Flammable Animals. During any unfilled time slots, the radio station personnel hosted both acoustic sing-a-longs of classic hits and talk show segments focused on music. 

While the 24-Hour Music Fest provides WMCX with a great avenue for self-promotion, the station hosts it for a greater cause. Gertz said, “We want to give local bands a platform to showcase their music to a wider audience.” 

In recent years, New Jersey has become the home to a bustling local music scene. Due to its close proximity to New York City and Philadelphia, local artists have a wide variety of options regarding where to perform live and promote their music. However, artists often face having to sell a minimum number of tickets to play at certain venues. Some venues also require a great deal of traveling to get to and will sometimes even charge patrons cover fees. Due to local live music’s costly nature, patrons may be deterred from attending a show, and thus artists will potentially miss chances to promote their music. 

When asked about what role the radio station played in the local music scene, junior Owen Daly-Forseth, WMCX’s Music Director for the upcoming 2015-2016 school year, said, “Our radio station gives more exposure to bands who are primarily playing local shows. The only way a lot of these bands are heard is when people actually come to their shows. WMCX allows them to be heard by more listeners without having to rely on getting people out to their shows.”

With an organization like WMCX broadcasting live music over the air free of charge, local artists have a great opportunity to reach a broad range of listeners. Not only does this provide great exposure for individual musicians, but it helps showcase the New Jersey music scene’s immense talent as a whole. Next year’s Music Fest will occur in the spring.