When it comes to local music, nobody does it quite like KWSS FM Radio.
Since inception in January of 2005, the nonprofit radio station on 93.9 FM has been serving Scottsdale, Phoenix, and surrounding West Valley cities with local music, helping Valley bands reach a broader audience and actively promote their concerts and new music on the air.
Because the station is run entirely by volunteers — with a large percentage of the funding coming from local businesses and some underwriting — KWSS occasionally asks listeners to lend a hand.
Enter the Guilty Pleasures show.
It's a way fans can help support local radio directly. Teaming up with 80/20 Records, KWSS is throwing a 16-and-over fundraiser concert starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday, November 18, at Last Exit Live. It has a stacked local lineup, featuring Captain Squeegee, Ben Anderson Music with Gabe Kubanda,Vintage Wednesday, The Glides, People Who Could Fly, Bear Ghost, DAISY, Panic Baby, and Good Boy Daisy. Also on the docket is a DJ set from MRCH.
Former TMI morning show host Brad "Beef Vegan" Pfirrman helped the station catch on with locals. Over the course of about eight years, he gave Phoenix-area bands a chance to get some quality air-time. He was the first on-air DJ to play "Come With Me Now," a now-platinum hit by Arizona band Kongos.
Ten-year station veteran and weekday midday on-air personality Dani Cutler feels that KWSS has continued its mission to spotlight the music scenes throughout the Valley, and that the station's a cornerstone for all things local music. In 2016, she started an "11 O'Clock Local" segment, which focuses on a local act each day.
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"One thing KWSS does that no other music station on the FM can is put local artists in our regular rotation," Cutler says. "You'll hear music from Spoon, Weezer and Metric mixed with Upsahl, Banana Gun and decker. We have complete control over our music, which is the advantage of being independently owned."
The radio station also offers venues the opportunity to make a tax deductible donation to the station. In return, KWSS provides promotion for upcoming local shows. And because KWSS pulls between 80,000 and 100,000 listeners each month, according to Cutler, it has the potential to really make an impact on Valley music.
DJ Melo describes the experience as awesome.
"Ever since I was a kid I would record DJs mixing on the radio," he says. "I always liked how you could hear stuff that wouldn’t get played much throughout the day. KWSS is already super dope all day, so I try to throw stuff in the mix that I’m not quite sure people have heard, but I would wanna hear."
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Weekend DJ Licia Torres says she was a fan of KWSS before signing on three years ago. KWSS helped her find what she wanted out of music in the Valley, she says. By tuning in, Torres says, she became "better informed on local alternative rock." And she says it's only getting better. "In the last three years that I have been on the air at KWSS, the signal is stronger, and we are gaining listenership daily."
She also feels strongly that the nonprofit has a deeply rooted connection not only to locally made music, but also the people and venues in it.
"KWSS has had an integral part in giving exposure to the smaller venues in downtown Phoenix and Tempe because of the artists we feature on the air," she says. "KWSS will continue to grow as the local indie music fan base grows in metro Phoenix. We have a unique combination of indie music and connection to the local lifestyle."
The Guilty Pleasures cover show is at Last Exit Live on Saturday, November 18. Tickets are $10 to $20 via Ticketfly.