Who Gets the Blues?
Jon Scott of online radio station AllMemphisMusic.com can rattle off all the places around the world where the Memphis sound is still a beacon.
“We have a huge listenership in China and Japan, throughout Europe, in England, France and Germany,” Scott says. “Then there’s other countries you wouldn’t expect: Belarus, Kenya, Colombia, Nigeria, Estonia, Qatar, Albania, Tunisia, Algeria, Paraguay.
“All these people, in all these places, they’re looking for Memphis music. People love the Memphis sound, it’s just universally popular. It amazes me every time I check the stats out to see who’s listening, where they’re from.”
AllMemphisMusic.com was launched in 2006 by Scott, a longtime Bluff City deejay, and musician, record executive and artist manager David Fleischman, with the support of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau. Seven years later, the station — which runs 24 hours a days, 365 days a year — is heard in all 50 states and more than 120 countries.
Focusing on Memphis and Memphis-connected music and performers, the station draws about 30,000 listeners each month. AllMemphisMusic is fast the approaching 1 million-stream mark since its inception. And Internet radio network Live 365 has ranked it the No. 1 Internet station in the soul music category for the past four years.
More than numbers, however, AllMemphisMusic.com has sought to preserve history. This week, the station will debut a special two-hour program and interview with reclusive Stax Records founder Jim Stewart.
The 83-year-old Stewart has strenuously avoided the spotlight over the past 20 years. He didn’t attend his own induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and he has been absent from most local Stax Museum functions (though he recently made an appearance with the students at the Stax Music Academy).
Scott first got to know Stewart back in the 1970s while he was working as a deejay at Memphis’ FM 100. “Someone recently asked who my dream interview would be, and I always thought of Jim,” said Scott, who was able to persuade Stewart to grant a lengthy face-to-face session earlier this summer.
He and Fleischmann visited Stewart at his Memphis home and talked for several hours. “Jim tells how he came from a small town in Tennessee, and how the pieces fell together to create the label,” Scott says. “It’s really an intimate take of how Stax began and how it ended.
“We wanted to explore how Stax became the first record company in the world that had black and white musicians playing together, especially in a racially divided city as Memphis was in the early ’60s. It was unheard of at the time,” Scott says. “If Jim had rented a studio in a different part of town, there’s a possibility that this melting pot of musicians, or Stax as we know it, may have never taken place. That’s one of the reasons why Stax is such a treasure.”
The Stewart special will premiere at 4 p.m. Saturday and re-air on Tuesday and Thursday.
Following the run of the Stewart program, AllMemphisMusic.com will debut a new weekly program called “Inner View.” Hosted by another former FM100 deejay, Mitch McCracken, the show will offer chats with Memphis musicians, producers and studio owners, helping to put together a kind of mosaic of Memphis music history.
“We concentrate on the Memphis sound old and new,” Scott says. “We want to put it on tape for perpetuity, so people can understand how the Memphis sound started and evolved. We’ve got shows coming up with people like Steve Cropper, Don Nix and Wink Martindale.” “Inner View” will debut on Aug. 13 and will air twice a week, at 10 p.m. Tuesdays at 10 p.m. and 10 a.m. Thursdays.
Scott notes that the staggered air times are in part a concession to their global audience. “It’s true,” he says. “We’ve got a prime-time audience somewhere in the world 24 hours a day. And that’s a testament to the reach of this city and its music.”
Jim Stewart Special
Saturday, 4 p.m., at AllMemphisMusic.com. Repeats on Tuesday at 10 p.m. and Thursday at 10 a.m.