WHYR is the best place for local music in Baton Rouge
For some reason my vehicle doesn’t have an auxiliary outlet, so I’m unable to plug in my iPhone or an MP3 device to listen to my personal collection of music. That’s okay though. In fact, I prefer it. Finding good radio stations is somewhat of a lost art these days and I pride myself on my ability to find those unusual channels one might normally skip over.
I first found WHYR a couple years ago, shortly after I started working at The West Side Journal. I stumbled across the station on accident and was pleasantly surprised to hear Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” which was followed by the Rolling Stones’ “Get Off of My Cloud.”
You don’t hear these songs on other radio stations, and if you do, it’s incredibly rare. Generally, I don’t plug for any organization, regardless of its connection to the community. But WHYR is different. It’s a noncommercial radio station that specializes in local entertainment and news. There’s no spectacle of entertainment or celebrity. It’s just good music and good programming.
As a transplant, WHYR somehow makes me feel more at home in the Baton Rouge area. Nothing feels more Louisianian than cruising down La. Hwy. 1 at night with the windows down and an accordion solo blaring. This is music that is sprouted straight from the soil of places like West Baton Rouge Parish. Musicians with real roots to the community tell their stories on WHYR through zydeco, blues, jazz, rock country and hip hop.
Don’t get me wrong. I like Garth Brooks, but I can only handle “Callin’ Baton Rouge” so many times per day. Furthermore, if you want something with local flavor, listen to a radio station that emphasizes local talent.
One of the first interviews I listened to on WHYR was with Aaron Williams, the former editor of the Journal, who was discussing his portrait photography in Africa. On Friday nights, sports commentators on LA All American Game of the Week discuss local high school sports games while occasionally throwing in some social/political banter in between. High school sports and politics might be a somewhat uncommon union, but I guess that’s the beauty of WHYR.
It’s a little bit weird.
The station makes a point of exposing underrepresented voices in the Baton Rouge area to the public, which is something everyone needs more of. (Oddly enough, the next station up the dial is the same one that plays Rush Limbaugh in the morning.)
The tuning can be a little fuzzy past Lobdell Highway and south of Brusly, but you can always stream the station online if you’re out of range.
God knows we all spend too much time commuting to Baton Rouge. If you find yourself flipping through commercial after commercial, listening to the same old stuff, give 96.9 a listen.