WUTK and Raven Records and Rarities are joining forces to create a multimedia happening in the ever-evolving Happy Holler neighborhood. The June 16 event is ostensibly meant to mark the grand opening of the newest location for the venerable Raven, which has moved from its previous Bearden strip-mall slot into the same block as Club XYZ, Central Flats & Taps, and Time Warp Tea Room. But it also promises to offer a pretty unique collection of Knoxville culture.
Beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Relix Variety Theatre (two doors down from Raven), the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound will be screening some one-of-a-kind Knoxville audio-visual treats. First, they’ll be showing an extremely rare “director’s cut” of the little-seen early ’80s drive-in movie shot at the University of Tennessee, Incoming Freshman. (Its infamous distributor, the now defunct Cannon Films, inserted some unrelated T&A to increase its box-office chances. See next week’s issue for the long, strange story.) Then, at 7 p.m., This Is Cas Walker will present the legendary grocer/politician/entertainment impresario behind the Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour.
At 8 p.m., Knoxville bands and musicians Jack Rentfro and the Apocalypso Quartet, Eric Griffin, Guy Marshall, and the French will be taking the stage. During set changes, the inimitable Rus Harper will be showing performance footage from the 1980s featuring several Knoxville bands. And just after midnight, the Knoxville Horror Film Fest will present a yet-to-be-named classic horror movie.
The show is also another fund-raiser for WUTK, the University of Tennessee radio station that habitually wins Best Radio Station in our Best of Knoxville poll, yet is usually subsisting in an underfunded state. In 2008, we ran a cover story detailing the station’s money woes. Have things changed since then? Not so much, says station manager Benny Smith. Hence the many fund-raisers the station has been conducting in its 30th anniversary year.
“WUTK is not directly funded by UT like most other college radio stations are,” Smith says. “They do help up keep the lights on and the doors open, and did secure a very nice equipment grant that we sorely needed last year. But as far as other expenses—equipment repair, toner ink, staff salaries, Internet lines, headphones, on and on—we have to bring in the revenue to provide the funding for those ongoing and never-ending needs. We would love to be able to do a couple of major fund drives a year, but we simply do not have the staff or infrastructure to pull that off. So we try to think of cool ways to raise the dough, and this is one example.”
A $5 minimum donation is requested for the all-ages extravaganza. The money will go toward repairs, new equipment, and for the creation of a travel fund so WUTK staffers can attend industry events such as SXSW, the Americana Music Fest, and CMJ. (Last year, CMJ named WUTK the most-improved college station in the country.) Many students involved at WUTK go on to careers in radio (including alums like Mike Keith, Tony Basilio, and John Wilkerson), as well as at record labels, band management, and concert booking and promotion companies.
“WUTK is not just a jump-off point for a career in radio, but in many other areas due to the practical experience and networking that the students can make happen while here,” Smith says. “And that is why WUTK was created 30 years ago.”