Downtown has the blues, and two Tulsans are hoping it’s contagious.
Harry Willis and Shannon Moudy operate an Internet radio station, RadioIDL, from downtown Tulsa.
From a corner office on the sixth floor of the Reunion Center building, a block north of Bartlett Square, juke joint music is beamed to the world.
From Bessie Smith to Buddy Guy to Johnny Lang, if you’re looking for blues music, tune into RadioIDL. The station is as if KMOD’s lamented “Smokehouse Blues” show grew up and moved to a home of its own. You won’t find it on your car stereo though; RadioIDL is purely Internet radio, accessible from your tablet, smartphone and computer at www.radioIDL.com.
The brainchild of Shannon Moudy and Harry Willis, the station began broadcasting in September 2013, and its programming and audience has grown steadily. Moudy was early to Internet radio — he began broadcasting on the web in 2003 — so when Willis had the idea for a local all-blues station, the two partnered to create RadioIDL. (They previously worked together at Willis’ video production/interactive media company, Orca Media.)
Willis says the idea was to create the feel of “small-town local radio within a big city.” RadioIDL airs an hourly segment called “Downtown Now,” in which familiar local radio voice Jason Taylor (formerly a DJ on 94.1-FM The Sound) gives a rundown of events and live music within the Inner Dispersal Loop — though, as Willis says, “we cheat a little bit and include SoBo and the Pearl District.”
The pair’s dedication to the local music scene doesn’t end there. Programming includes music by local greats such as Steve Pryor, and they broadcast in-studio performances often. They also give local musicians a chance to guest DJ, playing the music that inspired their careers on the weekly show “Under the Influence.”
And now, RadioIDL’s most recent expansion is into the world of streaming video. A full show by Tulsa band The Dirtboxwailers can be streamed on the site, and Moudy and Willis want to eventually stream other live events.
So, why isn’t RadioIDL on the traditional radio waves?
“It’s obvious,” Moudy says, “as today’s smartphone has become yesterday’s transistor radio.”
He makes a good point. These days, most people only listen to the radio in the car, and as Mayor Dewey Bartlett’s voice will tell you on a looping factoid over the airport speakers, “Tulsa has the second-shortest commute time in the country.” So, it’s understandable that a radio station would move away from the old model and target devices that are never out of arm’s reach.
That accessibility gives the station another unique advantage over traditional radio. While most listeners are in Tulsa, RadioIDL’s analytics reveal regular listeners not only outside the city, but also in other countries. In fact, Moudy and Willis see RadioIDL as a medium to promote Tulsa’s music scene to the rest of the world, while also catering to the Tulsa listener who wants to catch some great live music downtown.
Wherever you are, any time of day or night, if you’ve got the blues, RadioIDL is there for you.