You’ve heard of the “Velvet Ditch,” a nickname some have given the town Oxford because it’s such a comfortable place to live, and few want to leave.
Now get ready for the Velvet Pitch, a new Rebel Radio show hosted by three University of Mississippi students.
Austin Barker, Ben Fugler, and Maggie Smith started the show to be the voices of the local music scene. They want to promote and analyze music while bringing attention to Oxford’s unique music and arts scene.
Barker, a Jackson native, played drums in his high school marching band and was constantly surrounded by music. The marketing major wants a career in the music industry doing in-house shows.
“I found out there was a student-run radio show, and I wanted to do it for two years,” Barker said, explaining how he became involved with the campus station.
Now he interviews local bands and describes the radio show as “laid back and relaxed.” However, it can be challenging setting up interviews with local musicians.
Madison native Smith said she would like to eventually write or edit a nature or wildlife publication, such as Outsider or Backpacker. But she enjoys being a part of the radio show.
“The show is the best part of my week,” said Smith, who would also like to do environmental radio work. She’s had an interest in music since she was young.
She has played the guitar since she was 13; sang in high school; took theater, speech and debate classes; and has always enjoyed performing. She appreciates having the Velvet Ditch as a platform because she loves podcasting and storytelling.
“We try really hard to focus on music happening in Oxford,” she said.
Smith said she wants to highlight the importance of the local music scene and let people know the Oxford area has a record label, Fat Possom.
Madison native Fugler enjoyed the Jackson music scene. In 2008, he began reading many music journalism sites, such as Pitchfork and Consequence of Sound. He said they have changed the way he talks and thinks about music.
Fugler said he never really thought he would do a radio show until the opportunity arose. He believes the Velvet Pitch is unique. In the future, he’d like to work with music journalism researchers doing album reviews, finding new artists, analyzing albums, and listening to music all day.
The group expressed excitement about some upcoming shows, including And the Echo, Conor Oberst and George Porter in October; Julien Baker, and Districts in December; and Spoon in April
Barker said he hopes the Velvet Ditch audience grows.
“Hopefully … (it) really catches on and influences people to take notice of the live music scene Oxford had to offer,” he said. “To show that there is more to do here than just go out and drink at the bars every weekend.”