REG’S COFFEEHOUSE, 15TH ANNIVERSARY
If you are remotely familiar with the Birmingham music scene, then you know the huge impact that Scott “Reg” Register has had on it. Last month marked the 15th anniversary of his iconic radio show, Reg’s Coffeehouse. Every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., listeners are presented with Reg’s signature blend of local, independent, and alternative music. The show has seen airplay on multiple stations, most notably 107.7 The X, Live 100.5, and currently spins online at Birmingham Mountain Radio (www.bhammountainradio.com), which has expanded Reg’s duties to include the daily broadcast, The Morning Blend.
Chris K. Davidson for Birmingham Weekly: First off, could you give some history about how the show started?
Scott Register: The show began in 1997. I got to know the program director at the new alternative station in town back then, which was The X. Dave Rossi knew what kind of music I liked and we got to know each other. He had come down from an AAA station in Charleston, South Carolina, and he wanted to add that kind of flavor to the station, so he asked me to start doing a show on Sunday mornings. It started in January ’97 and grew over the years to a 4-hour show and has been on several different stations now and currently resides on Birmingham Mountain Radio.
BW: Obviously, you’ve been known for launching a lot of bands and songwriters’ careers by giving them their first airplay (John Mayer, The Civil Wars, to name a few). What do you look for in a band when you decide whether or not to play them?
SR: It’s just a gut feeling with me to be honest with you. I wish there was a scientific formula to it, but usually there’s a sound, and if I hear it, I know it when I hear it. I’ve spent 43 years in Birmingham and kind of know the market, especially the kind of music that I’m into. I’ve been fortunate to connect listeners with artists that have gone onto national prominence. There’s no secret to it. It’s just an internal thing with me.
BW: So what has kept you in Birmingham all these years instead of going to a more music-oriented city such as Nashville or Austin?
SR: I love this town, and I feel like this town has more potential than just about any city out there. It was a good town growing up. I always felt like putting back into it. My family is here. I’ve had opportunities to leave, but they’ve never been compelling enough to make me do it. There’s just something about this city. I feel like one day it’s gonna reach its potential and people are going to be blown away by it. People are already blown away by it. They come to town and they’ve heard stories and seen pictures, and when they get here, they say: “This isn’t the town we thought it was. This is a pretty remarkable city.” So that’s what keeps me here.
BW: How have you seen the Birmingham music scene evolve over the last 15 years?
SR: Most music scenes are cyclical and this one comes and goes, comes and goes. Right now, I feel like it’s in a really good place, mostly because the artists are really working together to try and better the scene. We’ve got some good clubs. We’ve got record labels forming here in town. We’ve got Birmingham Mountain Radio. We’ve got Southbound, the local show. We’ve put local programming into our programming as well. It just feels right now that it’s very healthy. There’s some really talented artists and they’re working together instead of competing against each other. It’s got more of that family atmosphere that it takes to grow a scene.
BW: Where would you hope to see Birmingham radio in the future?
SR: I don’t know where radio’s going.
Everyone’s got their opinion of where radio’s going. I like where we are right now. I think we’re on the cutting edge of something that could be big one day with it becoming standard in cars to have access to the internet. I feel like the opportunities are limitless. We’ve gotten a lot of national recognition over the last few months for what we’re doing because we’re one of the few internet radio stations that are hyperlocalized. We’re doing a lot of local events. We’re promoting local shows. We’re giving away tickets to local events and working with the community. That might be what the future of radio is. I don’t know. I just feel really good about what we’re doing right now. Will we be back on FM? Never say never. There’s always a chance that we could pop back up, especially if we prove ourselves the way we’ve been proving ourselves on the internet. I just don’t worry about it. We go out every day and do what we do and so far, so good, it seems to be working.
BW: Could you give a quick playlist of songs you’re really into right now?
SR: Gotye (“Somebody I Used to Know”), Delta Spirit (“California”), Bahamas (“Caught Me Thinking”), Todd Snider (“New York Banker”), Madi Diaz (“Love You Now”) and Ben Kweller (“Full Circle”).
You can connect with Reg through Twitter (@RegsCoffeeHouse), Facebook (Scott Register, The Morning Blend with Reg Fan Page, Reg’s Coffee House Fan Page), or email (reg@ bhammountainradio.com).
Come celebrate with Reg at Alabama Theatre for his 15th anniversary concert, which includes Brandi Carlile, JJ Grey, Augustana, Katie Herzig and Maria Taylor and the Taylor Family Band. The show is Friday, February 10th at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $30-$45 and are available at www.ticketmaster. com or by calling 800.745.3000. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Greater Birmingham Human Society.