Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Walter Tunis, June 7, 2009

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:24 - Career

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Partial Transcript: If you could just say who you are, and what you do.

Segment Synopsis: Tunis discusses his career as a music critic in Lexington, Kentucky.

Keywords: Journalists; Lexington Herald-Leader; Louisville (Ky.); WRFL; Work

Subjects: Arts; College radio stations; Freelance journalism; Music critics; Radio stations; Theater; University of Kentucky

00:03:42 - Lexington music scene

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Partial Transcript: Um, I was gonna ask you, you know, what your impression was of the Lexington music scene?

Segment Synopsis: Tunis provides an overview of the Lexington music scene during the 1980s. WRFL's role in this capacity is briefly mentioned.

Keywords: Accessible; Cassettes; Coverage; Lexington (Ky.); Local bands; Newspapers; Punk; Recordings; Support; WRFL

Subjects: College radio stations; Compact discs; Music; New wave music; Radio stations; University of Kentucky; Voice

00:08:25 - WRFL and local music / Technology

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Partial Transcript: When WRFL first went on the air, um, they did have, uh, what they called the local music playbox.

Segment Synopsis: Tunis explains WRFL's role in supporting local music. Tunis also considers the impact of technology upon amateur and unsigned musicians (people creating music who are not signed to a corporate label).

Keywords: Cassettes; Cover bands; Dedication; Lexington (Ky.); Local music; Phonograph records; Record companies; Recording contracts; Shows; WRFL

Subjects: College radio stations; Experience; Pressure; Radio stations; Technology; University of Kentucky

00:15:32 - Impact of WRFL

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Partial Transcript: So, yeah, so that's a--so that point there, if you want to speak some more to that.

Segment Synopsis: Tunis illustrates the impact of WRFL upon the local music scene in Lexington.

Keywords: Bruce Springsteen (Artist); Commercial radio; Community; Diversity; John Mellencamp (Artist); Lexington (Ky.); MTV; New music; Pleasant; Record companies; WRFL

Subjects: College radio stations; Music; Public Image Ltd. (Musical group); Radio stations; University of Kentucky

00:20:42 - WRFL people and culture

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Partial Transcript: Were you acquainted with any of the sort of early RFL people before the station went on the air, or, um?

Segment Synopsis: Tunis recalls whether or not he knew any of the creators of WRFL prior to the station's foundation in 1988. Additionally, Tunis describes the type of culture that WRFL brought to the Lexington community.

Keywords: Acquaintances; College towns; Commercial radio; Community; Lexington (Ky.); Newspapers; Playlists; Programming; Radio shows; Stories; WRFL

Subjects: Amateur; Arts; College radio stations; Culture; Enthusiasm; History; Radio stations; Students; University of Kentucky

00:28:05 - National Public Radio (NPR) in Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: But if you looked at something more commanding, like, say National Public Radio, it balances out with something that is, you know, a strong independent station.

Segment Synopsis: Tunis details the status of NPR in Kentucky, focusing upon the Louisville and Lexington markets. The role of WRFL in comparison to both NPR and commercial radio is also mentioned.

Keywords: Georgetown (Ky.); Lexington (Ky.); Louisville (Ky.); Radio shows; WRFL; WUKY

Subjects: College radio stations; Jazz; Music; National Public Radio (U.S.); Radio stations; University of Kentucky

00:32:36 - Bluegrass music in Lexington

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Partial Transcript: And yet, um, to, to hear live bluegrass, um, for many years, I think, was something that maybe wasn't as easy as someone who didn't live here might think it would be.

Segment Synopsis: Tunis examines the bluegrass music scene in Lexington, and how it has evolved throughout the years. The decision of WRFL to play bluegrass music in recent years is highlighted.

Keywords: Lexington (Ky.); Local music; WRFL

Subjects: Artists; Bluegrass music; College radio stations; Country music; Culture; Festivals; Marketing; Music; Pop; Radio stations; Summer; University of Kentucky

00:36:21 - WRFL and jazz

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Partial Transcript: I wanted you to talk a little bit about jazz, and about your, your perceptions of WRFL and jazz.

Segment Synopsis: Tunis talks of WRFL and its decision to play jazz music. The impact of this music choice upon Lexington as a whole is detailed. The relative amount of competition that WRFL faces in this regard is described.

Keywords: Electric jazz; Jazz shows; Lexington (Ky.); WRFL; WUKY

Subjects: Bluegrass music; College radio stations; Competition; High school; History; Jazz; Music; National Public Radio (U.S.); Radio stations; University of Kentucky

00:41:50 - Jazz scene in Lexington

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Partial Transcript: I wanna talk about Ross some.

Segment Synopsis: Tunis explores the impact of music promoter and musician Ross Hammond on the growth of jazz in Lexington. The collaboration between Hammond and WRFL to promote jazz in the Lexington community is discussed as well.

Keywords: Attendance; Chicago (Ill.); Commercial music; Compositions; Great recession; Lexington (Ky.); Music promoters; Radio shows; Ross Hammond; Timing; Trumpeters; WRFL

Subjects: College radio stations; Electricity; Ice storms; Jazz; Logistics; Music; Radio stations; University of Kentucky; Weather

00:52:16 - Nature of WRFL

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Partial Transcript: Then, not all of the things some of these kids would play would be things of their own generation.

Segment Synopsis: Tunis considers what the true nature and principal themes of WRFL have been throughout the years, as well as what they are currently.

Keywords: "Commercial free"; Appreciation; Commercial radio; Diversity; Impactful; Lexington (Ky.); Pharaoh Sanders; Precedent; WRFL; Welcoming

Subjects: Ability; College radio stations; Music; Promotion; Radio stations; University of Kentucky; Voice