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The WAI-ve of the future 

We’re about to embark on a new method of Arkansas Times entertainment news delivery. Beginning Wednesday, July 20, at 6 p.m., WAI Radio.com (www.wairadio.com) will premiere a show with yours truly as host. Much was still being worked out as I was writing this column, but WAI owner Steve Freeman and I are tentatively planning to call it the Arkansas Times’ Entertainment 120 — that’s if we decide to go two hours with it. (Simply substitute 60 for 120 if we fall back to an hour-long show.) Kelley Bass, who preceded me in this position at the Times, hosted a weekly local music radio show for a time, and it’s been my dream to put local music back into the forefront of radio, but corporate-driven playlists on the more popular music stations and news/sports talk-and-more-talk format on others have kept that from happening, at least on a steady basis. KABZ-FM, 103.7 The Buzz has graciously had me on Fridays to talk about the weekend’s entertainment schedule, and former Buzz host Stanley Knox did a great job highlighting local bands, including having them play live in the station, during his stint there. Freeman’s new WAI Radio.com is a totally Internet-streaming station, available on your computer at your fingertips. It already has returned local talk host Pat Lynch to his rightful spot as a main morning mover of ideas, talking with civic leaders such as North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Hays and others in the news over the past month. Freeman has the always-controversial and well-read Butch Stone for his daily “No Holds Barred.” (Butch is not just a concert promoter, as one listen to their 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. show will attest). Ray Lincoln also makes appearances, and Freeman has other big plans in store for WAI. After I made a couple of appearances on Lynch’s show recently and met Freeman, we all came to the conclusion the station could use a show geared toward local entertainment, focusing on music but running the gamut of what gets Central Arkansans out of the house. We’ll interview local bands, featuring some of their newly released CDs. We’ll talk with record company promoters, producers and studio recording folks, and we’ll feature the folks who run the area clubs and other popular music venues. We’ll also talk TV, local theater, movies, and anything else that you regularly see in these Arts and Entertainment pages. What excited me most was WAI’s capability to deliver the product. While airing live on Wednesday, the show would be rebroadcast Thursday and Friday, giving the listener the lowdown on where to go and what to do. But, say, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. is not your best time to listen. No problem; the website will have every show archived. You can download it whenever and wherever you want. You could even download it and burn it to a CD and listen in your car driving around. I can promise you this: You’re going to hear some good music on this show, both locally and with regional and national acts that will be coming to town. Internet streaming is already a popular medium, and the ease with which you can listen to shows, at any time of the day and not just when the station says you can, will make this the predominant way we listen to the “radio” in the coming years. The stations occupying the airwaves know this and are scrambling to be there. No longer will I hear, “Man, I missed you on so-and-so station the other day.” I’ll just now say, it’s still there, it’s worth a listen, so just click on it, at WAIradio.com. Visit Jim Harris’s local entertainment blog at jimsrocking.blogspot.com.
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