Those of you who regularly listen to Roanoke’s local community radio station,101.5 FM , might have noticed that something sounds a little different, but it’s not the format. The station, which signal is broadcast from atop Mill Mountain, has changed its name and rebranded itself. Previously called “The Valley’s Music Place,” moving forward the station will be “101.5 The Mountain.”
In addition to a new name and look, there are a few key changes to note. If you live or regularly travel in the New River Valley, starting January 1, you’ll be able to pick up the station on a second signal, 102.5 FM. Station leadership has also changed, as Rob Ruthenberg has taken over for the original station manager Tom Kennedy. It was Kennedy who proposed and led the change in format in 2011 from oldies rock to its current Adult Album Alternative “Triple-A” format which contains an eclectic mix of roots rock, blues, Appalachian, and indie world music.
Ruthenberg, a well-known Roanoke radio personality, who previously served as morning host and operations manager for the station, got his start in entertainment as a stand-up comic where he had the opportunity to work with and open for some big-name acts including Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Billy Gardell, and Weird Al. His experience in radio first began as a DJ for the commercial rock station WROV. He then moved on to television where he worked as a producer, on-air talent, and program director.
“I left radio because I was a little burned out and I didn’t like what was going on with it,” Ruthenberg said in a recent interview. “101.5 is a very different business model and embraces everything that most terrestrial radio has abandoned. I have always felt that media, on a local level, had a responsibility to do what was right for people that they service. At 101.5, I get the opportunity to do just that. We are committed to the community and to making a social impact.”
Ruthenberg said that since the station maintains its commitment to playing music that reflects the region, 101.5 will keep their same programming, including his morning show, and the community spotlights and special interests segments. He lead the effort to change the name to “The Mountain” because he wanted something that was more easy to recognize and remember. He’s most excited about his new role as station manager because of the opportunity it affords him to make a bigger impact through all the relationships he has developed over the last 20+ years in this market.
As for additional changes moving forward, the management and owners are aware of the importance of having a digital platform, and are looking at ways to expand the footprint digitally. The station will also continue to embrace new and local artists.
“The Roanoke music scene is much more collaborative than it has been in the past 30 years. There are more artists now who are making a living on original material. We like having local acts that fall into regular rotation play, and seek to give local artists a fair shake. If you licensed your music, you get a shot at airtime just like everyone else.”
One thing that won’t be changing is the coffee maker. Ruthenberg says the old school percolator is one of the highlights of his day.
Check out some of the program listings on the station website, which will also be undergoing a redesign in the coming months.