WMZQ has been DC’s radio home to country music since 1977, and more recently, Jenni Chase has been DC’s guide to the country airwaves. Jenni took time out of her busy broadcasting schedule to answer a few questions about how being country works in a city like DC.
On Tap: You’ve been on a couple of different stations in the area. How did you wind up doing country? Were you always a country fan?
Jenni Chase: My first radio job in college was on the country station in College Station, TX – Aggie 96. I had always been a fan of the music, especially early George Strait and Clint Black. And my southern accent is pretty conducive to the format! As most fans of our genre, I just find that the songs really touch me. On any given day, no matter what my mood, I can always find a perfect country song to describe my emotions. Songs that make me laugh, songs that make me cry…and songs that make me proud to be an American, in the words of one of our greatest tunes ever by Lee Greenwood.
OT: Does the popularity of country music surprise you in a city like DC?
JC: Country does well in the Nation’s Capital…obviously, because there are so many military folk in this area, the patriotic songs strike a chord. And, I’ve never heard of many other stations that play The Star Spangled Banner twice a day, every day. WMZQ’s support for our troops makes me so proud to be associated with the station. DC is a major cosmopolitan city but not far outside the city limits, you’ll find farms, rural areas, and hard-working people who relate to our music. It’s honest, it’s about real life…and that’s what makes country music so special, in my opinion.
OT: What are some of your favorite country acts, old and new?
JC: I love all kinds of country music, from the legends like Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton, to today’s crossover superstars like Lady Antebellum and Taylor Swift – a lot of people think Taylor is ‘too pop’ but many of her songs sound completely traditional, and I think she deserves so much credit – for being a great role model, for being so driven and dedicated to her fans, and for introducing so many new people to country music. True story – she’s the only star who’s ever sent me a hand-written thank you note. Right now, I’m listening to a lot of Eric Church, JT Hodges and Lee Brice.
OT: Are there any venues around town where people can see country bands play? Are there any country acts in town that you like or that people should check out?
JC: To get out and enjoy some great live local country music, you can try Fast Eddie’s in Centreville, Water’s Edge in Woodbridge and Cadillac Ranch in Annapolis…a couple of my favorite local musicians, John Luskey and Tyler Toliver, can often be found there. And if you ever get a chance to catch The Morrison Brothers Band, do so – they are fantastic. Kenny Ray Horton is also super-talented.
OT: How does being a part of the country music scene resonate with you?
JC: It’s my privilege to be a part of this genre. The WMZQ listeners are like my family – we share the ups and downs of life together…and the passion that country fans have for the music and the artists just speaks to how great the product is.
Listen to Jenni Chase weekdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 98.7 WMZQ-FM. Check out www.wmzq.com for more information.