Independent Interview: Rick Swank (WSKY Radio)

Today Trex Roads opens a new column: Independent Interviews.

Your Trex will interview for you the most important exponents of the American independent music scene: already known artists, emerging artists, but also professionals.

And just from an insider we start this adventure: a friend who, like me, has a huge passion for independent music that led him to found the most important web radio, today, for the circuit.

We’ll talk to him about his baby, WSKY Radio.

Meet the great Rick Swank.

Hi Rick welcome! You are my first Independent Interview and I wanted you to introduce yourself to the readers by telling us about yourself and, briefly, your story before deciding to enter the world of radio.

Radio was something I wanted to do since I was a kid.

I remember the disc jockeys I grew up listening to.

There were several that would introduce their listeners to all kinds of bands.

They had freedom back then to do that.

Then the whole radio landscape changed: more talk, less music, less exposure for the artists.

Radio began to circle the drain right around the time I was old enough to give it a go.

I just didn’t have interest in being a part of what it had turned into. 

I never stopped seeking out new names and sounds. I’ve always tried to introduce friends to those artists and bands. 

Now that we have internet radio and that gives me a platform to finally do it my way.

Which is play the good stuff that we all know is out there, while mainstream radio ignores it.

Also introducing new names to more people, like the old DJs used to do. 

Let’s come to your decision to found a radio. Where did it come from? Were you tired of classic country music radios?

I don’t care much for terrestrial radio in any genre.

Lots of repetition, and in most cases radio plays what the labels want them to.

I found myself helping an internet rock/metal station WXAX about six months before making the decision to start WSKY.

I had a few people suggest that I do something on the independent country side, that was similar to what we were doing on WXAX: which was play lots of unsigned, local and regional talent.

The final decision came at the Ohio Theater in Madison, Indiana.

We were attending a Justin Wells/Ward Davis show.

Both Ward and Justin made comments on stage about how guys like them didn’t get radio time.

My wife looked at me and said “there’s your sign”.

The next day I started to put it all together.

I threw the idea out there to a few people to see if they were interested in helping out.

These were friends made through the independent scene, so I knew that they knew the music. Each one had introduced me to an artist or two along the way.

That’s the type of people I wanted involved.

They deserve a lot of credit for a good portion of what we air: they are Joe Iles, Jason Mullins, Frank Walters, and Dylan Jay Albarado.

A few weeks later we went live with it all.

Just sort of winging it as we went along.  

I’ve always had this curiosity: how does a radio like this work? Buy your space and then broadcast what you want? Also the economic engagement will be important for someone who doesn’t want interferences of anyone, above all of promoters or discographers.

Basically yeah. I pay for broadcasting rights. Those fees cover all the licensing costs and so on. 

Everything has been solely funded by myself up to this point. Having the freedom to play what I want, plays a huge factor in that.

I hope to have sponsors at some point, however, I’ll be very selective on who I will accept sponsorship from.

I want to make sure they have the same goals in mind as I do: which is pushing the genre forward.

Have you always loved country and independent southern or have you expanded your listening over the years? What music has influenced you most in your life?

The earliest I remember listening to country was back in the 70s.

I rode around with my grandpa a lot.

He always had some country playing and I would also go with him to his favorite bar and hang out.

The jukeboxe was loaded with solid country gold.

Still to this day when Ol Waylon starts playing, I can go back in time and have some happy memories with grandpa.

In high school and throughout my 20s, I was definitely more of a thrash metal fan.

Really though, I’m a multi genre person.

What I’m not a fan of is pop music in general: it’s just watered down for the masses. 

What are your favorite artists today ? And which artists deserve to be known and maybe not have the space they deserve, in your opinion? 

Whiskey Myers took their rightful place among my favorites, but there are several right behind them.

As for deserving artists, that list is long.

There is so much talent out there right now: Tony Logue, Addison Johnson, Alex Williams, Clint Park, Wes Shipp, Josh Meloy, Erin Viancourt, Casper McWade… I could go on for hours with that list, but those are probably the heaviest in my personal rotation. 

Planning for the future? Do you have any news or surprises for your radio? 

Mainly just building on the foundation that was laid in 2023.

Keep building our audience, and earning our place.

Being known for not only for playing the best independent artists out there, also for helping give exposure to lesser known artists.  

We have some things in mind, but that kind of goes how the budget determines.

Keep moving forward, and learning how to be better as we go.

I’m sure there will be some surprises. You just never know when I get some crazy idea, and run with it. 

Where can readers find your radio? Can they listen to it from this part of the world?

Primarily on the free Live365 app, which is available on both Apple and Android devices. Live365 can also be found on many Smart TVs like Roku, FireTV, Samsung.

Alexa Skills is another option.

Live365 does broadcast in parts of Europe like the UK and Germany.

Unfortunately as of right now for Italy a VPN is the only option.

The RadioLine app also has an agreement with Live365 and we can be found on there as well. 

Thanks to Rick for his commitment to independent music and thanks for his availability.

Please look for WSKY Radio and continue to spread the word of true American music.


Pubblicato da Trex

Sono un blogger e scrittore appassionato di musica indipendente americana. Scrivo gialli polizieschi e ho inventato il personaggio del detective texano Cody Myers.

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