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Nick Baily has been going to rock shows in this area since way back when. You might have seen him pogoing at White Zombie and Prong shows at the old 9:30 Club. “My first record ever was a Gray Matter record. I love those guys,” he says, as if they were headlining sometime soon.
Baily, who, at 25, is now an elder to the scene, works for Localmusic.com but has been recruited to book bands for TV station WNVT’s new weekly music/technology/entertainment show, MegaHertz, which features D.C.-area acts in a live broadcast from a Northern Virginia warehouse. “Local music in D.C. is a complicated business,” he says. His job, he suggests, is to help his viewers—from nouveau rockers to the most jaded club critters—make some sense of the city’s talent by breaking it up “into bite-sized chunks.”
After just eight episodes, the show is already gaining notice—or at least notice from bands anxious to gain some of its generous A/V exposure. MegaHertz offers, in its half-hour format, live performances from regional acts. Recent installments have included the on-the-rag rock of Mary Prankster; the jazzy electronica-tinged rock of Baltimore’s Lake Trout; Sev, a lately signed rap/metal-core act for the big-panted kids; and those perennially blooming goth groups.
Besides the live sets, co-host Aparna Mohan, also 25, offers “a smorgasbord of little segments” that make the show seem like a PM Magazine for the 20-something WHFS listener. “Scene” segments, for instance, profile places to go; the show also covers new movies and “must-have” techno gadgetry. Some folks undoubtedly want to hear about the latest Euro dance club downtown, but do they really need to spend even a second in a movie-theater lobby gauging reactions to B action flicks?
Smoothing the show’s transitions is co-host Allen Scott, better known as a paid babbler on a WHFS morning show, who can skillfully fill the air. This often entails using the word “cool” as a crutch in such a way as to expose the uncooler aspects of the WHFS universe. Indeed, Scott’s presence betrays the shadow that WHFS casts over the whole shebang: As a major sponsor—brought in through Localmusic.com to join WNVT in a kind of “iron triangle,” explains Baily—the station has a great deal of say over what airs and in creating the feel of the show. So we have a new avenue that offers a WHFS-style dumbed-down version of alternative-music culture. Should we pass?
MegaHertz’s biggest problem may be that it’s stuck in stylistic no man’s land. “We gotta walk a fine line. We don’t wanna be corporate and slick, or public-access” in temperament, says Baily. So far, MegaHertz is somewhere in between slick cable access and a more adult-oriented MTV—which, conceptually speaking, may not be far off: Although Baily envisions adding some live punk and emo to the show’s palette, he knows the producers have different ideas. In their vision, he says, “Ideally, we will broadcast five nights a week from Dupont Circle with a glass window behind us.” —John Dugan
MegaHertz airs live Thursday nights at 7:30 p.m. and replays Thursday at 11 p.m. and Friday at 10:30 p.m. on WNVT. Check wnvt.org/mhz for local channel details.