Music & Nightlife

Local bands celebrate 20 years of WEND host Divakar

Divakar Shukla has spent 20 years hosting "90 Minutes" on WEND 106.5
Divakar Shukla has spent 20 years hosting "90 Minutes" on WEND 106.5 Courtesy of Divakar

For decades, critics of Charlotte’s local music scene – including bands, club owners and promoters – have lamented the lack of a dedicated college radio station. We’ve had WSGE and WNCW, but the type of stations that gave birth to alternative rock and promote regional music and local concerts has long eluded the city.

That leaves most local mainstream radio airplay to the two hours deejay Divakar devotes to area bands each Sunday night on WEND-FM (106.5, “The End”).

Saturday, some of the bands he’s featured on the show play a free concert at Chop Shop in honor of the 20th anniversary of “90 Minutes” and its host.

“There are not many outlets for original music on FM radio – especially for hard rock – and without Divakar’s show, the local, regional and indie artists he plays would be completely absent from the kind of radio that the mainstream consumes,” says Amanda Caines, singer for Tattermask, which plays Saturday.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten excited messages from fans, old and new, saying they heard us on ‘90 Minutes.’ It’s really been a helpful avenue for both outreach and legitimacy for Tattermask,” she adds. “When you’re played on FM radio, people take you more seriously.”

The idea of a weekly show focused on area artists began on “The Fox” (WRFX-FM, 99.7) as “Fox Exposures,” which Divakar took over after moving to the station from Raleigh in 1991. When WEND introduced the new rock format four years later, it seemed logical to move the show.

Divakar and his brother Samir Shukla were heavily involved in other aspects of local music, owning and operating music and video stores, producing magazines, and a record label. Divakar has also hosted local music television shows and expanded “90 Minutes” to two hours as “90 Minutes Plus.”

Saturday’s show features Lu Fjord – a partial reunion of Lou Ford, one of Charlotte’s most popular bands of the ’90s – as well as Grown Up Avenger Stuff, ISH, Tattermask, the Waves, the Sammies, Radio Lola, Funky Geezer and the reunion of Bum’s Lie.

“Before the Internet got in the game, it was a great way to hear and network with similar bands. Now it also serves as a morale booster, as a way for bands to be broadcast from a corporate station when there are so few stations doing anything like this anymore,” says co-host and producer Tracie Nasta. “Divakar has been able to host the only radio show that isn’t programmed by a computer. A pretty amazing feat, if you ask me.”

“(The Internet) creates a lot of noise out there. I think that’s why my show is unique,” Divakar adds. “You get a variety as opposed to getting on the Internet where there’s billion of things. I see my show as a conduit between the band and the listeners.”

“The reason I still think I’m doing it 20 years later? The venues now are the best we’ve ever had,” he adds. “(And) I’m still surprised by the level of talent.”

20 Years of Divikar and ‘90 Minutes’

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday.

WHERE: Chop Shop, 399 E. 35th St.

TICKETS: Free; $3 for ages 18-21.

DETAILS: 704-765-2467; www.chopshopnoda.com.

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