As the general manager for Georgia State University's WRAS-FM, Cassie Smith wields plenty of power -- 100,000 watts to be exact. That makes 88.5 the largest student-run radio station in the nation. The playlist is strictly indie by design, and Cassie follows suit as host of the Georgia Music Show (Thursdays, 6-8 p.m.). Being inundated with CDs from unsigned bands certainly has its perks -- she's broken several hometown acts, including Deerhunter, during her yearlong tenure -- but it can also be a painful process. So before Cassie hands over the reins to her successor this month, she has some bankable advice to share with bands seeking airplay. Take notes.
College stations in general are really committed to playing indie music because, for the most part, all college stations are noncommercial so we have much more freedom to play stuff. Granted, it has to be good. And generally, the really good stuff is the independent stuff. With WRAS being 100,000 watts, we are a very big voice for independent artists. When we play something local that's good, it's a huge opportunity – not only to be heard by people around Georgia, but when you make it on our charts people are going to find out around the country that WRAS is playing your stuff.
I'll get CDs and I just have to sit down and listen to them. Whether it makes it to the playlist or not is based on if I really like it and also it's about what the station is currently playing and how it compares. If it sounds like something I hear on 99X or DAVE-FM, I'm not going to play it, and I get that a lot. It happens a lot with rock bands. I get so much heavy rock stuff, but it's not indie. ... Sometimes people just send me stuff and I'm like, 'Do you even listen to our station? Because you would know that we would not play your band.' That just blows me away sometimes.
I get really turned off when people are really pushy and their excuse is 'That's how you have to be in this business.' I have this one dude who IMs me on Sundays. I work six days a week and he IMs me on Sundays to ask me when I'm going to [play his CD]. It's really frustrating when people are incredibly pushy, but I can understand to some extent.
The people that I really like, they send me an album, they send me a track list and they send me a bio and they follow up and just keep it really simple. I say let your music do the talking.
Music Issue 2007
Georgia Music Directory 2007