This afternoon, I caught up with Judy Dorsey, station manager for WEVL FM-89.9, as she took a much-needed break from organizing tomorrow's Blues on the Bluff fundraiser, which features bluesmen Kenny Brown and Blind Mississippi Morris, as well as instrumental group the Bo-Keys, hot off a pair of whirlwind NYC gigs last weekend, including a stop at Lincoln Center and an appearance at Brooklyn's Southpaw Lounge. (For New York Times reviews of both shows, go here and here.)
The 21st annual Blues on the Bluff falls exactly 375 days after the untimely death of WEVL volunteer dee-jay Dee "Cap'n Pete" Henderson, who was murdered in his backyard on July 15, 2008.
"We're still coping as best we can," says Dorsey, noting that Anthony Biggers' poster for this year's Blues on the Bluff features Cap'n Pete's truck and that, thanks to modern technology, listeners can still tune into taped episodes of "Cap'n Pete's Blues Cruise," which airs on WEVL from 9 p.m. to midnight every Friday night.
"Even so, there's a void there that will never be filled," she sighs. "I miss him every week."
The $15 admission to Blues on the Bluff will go into general operating funds, Dorsey says.
"It's money to keep the thing going, to keep the music coming out everyday. We have rent for our studio, and we also rent tower space, which is not cheap. It costs money to keep our transmitter running, plus the electricity at the studio. This may be volunteer radio, but we still have to pay bills!"
Asked about the future of internet radio, and how the new royalty rate deal will affect the future of WEVL's online broadcasts, Dorsey said, "That's a very complicated matter. Fifteen years ago, this wasn't a line item on our budget. There are so many different options you can sign up for, depending what kind of radio station you are. For us, our rates are gonna stay about the same until the end of 2010. Webcasting is not free. We pay royalties per stream. The fees are enormous, especially for a small operation like WEVL."
Still, broadcasting online has its benefits, she says, noting that today, the station has members who tune in from all over the world.
You can learn more about Saturday's Blues on the Bluff event here.