Photo by Dan Williams Photography
Hometown Heroes—a weekly radio show promoting local musical artists—just celebrated its 20th anniversary on WSTW 93.7 FM. Delaware Today spoke with Mark Rogers, who has hosted the show for the past 13 years, to recognize his dedication to cultivating homegrown talent.
Mark Rogers: The amount of talent has increased tenfold since I’ve started doing this. When I first started, we would be playing the same artist every two weeks or so. Now, it’s rare to hear the same artist in the same month.
MR: I kind of stumbled into it when the previous DJ, Johnny B, left WSTW and a friend suggested that I should host the show. I had worked in radio before, but it had been a few years and I thought it would be fun to work at WSTW again. I had no idea that it was going to become a passion for me, and really big part of my life. And I’ve gotten to know so many amazing people from doing it. It’s quite amazing.
MR: I guess it’s a little surreal. I don’t know how to respond to that specifically. I just go and do my little show every Sunday night. The fact that people listen and the fact that people decide that to go buy music and go see bands that I play, it’s humbling, frankly. I do it for the love of music and for the love of these great musicians who pour their time and energy into it. If I can do anything to help them out, I’ll do whatever I can. I’m very thankful to have had this opportunity to support local music.
MR: I try to give everyone a spin, but I would say there are a lot of factors that go into it. I’m more likely to play artists who are proactive, who are going out and playing live shows, promoting their music, keeping me informed about upcoming shows and events so we can spotlight those events on the show. That’s a biggie. And there are a lot of artists I would describe as that.
MR: That’s a tough one. Off the top of my head, there are easily dozens, if not a hundred, local artists that I think are just as good as those that people know nationally. Check out the venues that are in the region. There’s always live music to see. Support local music. Buy their music, for goodness sake. I know that people tend to stream these days, but if you like an artist, go buy an album. Especially for indie artists, it’s a big deal. Spend the five bucks for their EP, 10 bucks for their album, or something like that. I hate to choose favorites because there are so many good ones.
MR: To anyone who’s a fan of music: It’s cool to listen to the superstars nationally, but if you like music, you know, everyone starts locally. So in addition to going to see the bands that are touring nationally or internationally, check out some of the talent in your backyard. I guarantee that you’re going to find some music you’re going to love and probably make some new friends. Once you get started, it’s kind of addictive, because you just realize how much talent there is out there.