By Maria Wyllie
Explore Big Sky Associate Editor
BOZEMAN –The Bozeman-based radio show, “Live From The Divide,” celebrates the American songwriter and has seen significant growth in three years, gaining statewide and national attention from musicians, listeners, and radio stations alike.
“What’s kind of unique about [it] is that we produce a new hour [long] show every week throughout the whole season,” said producer Jason Wickens. “There’s no replay.”
A fresh recording is aired on KGLT, Bozeman’s alternative public radio station, every Monday at 6 p.m. The show is also syndicated nationally through the Public Radio Exchange and broadcast weekly on five other stations throughout the Northwest.
“We’ve produced over 100 hours of content for public radio – quite a feat for how young we are,” Wickens said.
“What we really like about the show is that, unlike some programs which try to do large performances or feature one band and end up having a lot of talk and banter, ‘Live From The Divide’ just lets the band play,” said Michael Marsolek, program director at Montana Public Radio, a statewide station which recently picked up the program and will begin airing it on Thursdays at 8 p.m. starting the week of Nov. 17.
Tagged “A Celebration of the American Songwriter,” the idea for the show was born when Wickens – also owner of Bozeman’s Blue Roan Studios – was working with some songwriters who Music Engineer Doc Wiley suggested they record. A month later, Wiley wanted to use a songwriter and the stories behind his craft as the basis for a public radio show.
Wickens and Wiley produced the broadcast and pitched it to KGLT, which had been looking to air a local, live music show.
“It was a no brainer,” said Ron Craighead, Marketing Director for KGLT. “We’ve had great response from listeners. A lot of people are absolutely amazed by some of the artists we’re getting here … in such an intimate concert setting.”
This year, “Live From The Divide” saw a rise in the caliber of artists wanting to play the program, such as world-renowned guitarist Tommy Emanuel, legendary singer songwriter Steve Earle and hit songwriter Radney Foster.
Bose Corporation, the audio giant based in Massachusetts, also took an interest, backing “Live From The Divide” as one of its major sponsors. Along with the Bose sponsorship and support they’ve had from major artists, Wickens says the community’s presence has been essential to the program this season.
Live performances take place in a recording studio with 50 seats, allowing listeners to get to know the artist behind the song and vice versa.
Paradise Valley resident Bill Payne, one of the founding members of Little Feat who also performs with the Hooligans and Leftover Salmon, played the program on Oct. 17.
“I personally appreciate the venue because of the opportunity to play music with friends – recently with The Hooligans [and] Sean Devine. The audience, many of whom [are] friends, make it a complete handshake,” said Payne in an email.
Upcoming live shows include alt-country band Sons of Bill and David Wax Museum on Nov. 21, and local darlings Storyhill on Dec. 6.
While there are other live-music broadcasts out there, such as “Mountain Stage,” Wickens says “Live From The Divide” has a unique production style.
“Doc Wiley, [who] is a Grammy-award winning mix engineer, is able to take these performances recorded in a studio and apply record mixing styles to them,” Wickens said. “We don’t have a host for the program, so there’s nobody up there prompting or asking them questions. They’re just feeding off the energy of the crowd.”
Craighead, who also plays drums for the Hooligans, says being a part of the recordings is just as special for the musicians as it is to the listeners.
“[The artists are] all telling each other about this great little venue here,” Craighead said. “And Bozeman is on the musical radar because of it.”
Visit livefromthedivide.com for more information on participating artists and show times.