It is seven o’clock on a Friday morning. Matt Pelsor takes a giant gulp of what he describes as “gas station coffee” before he leans into the microphone in his WTTS studio and offers an introduction to the next single. Pelsor has all the facts on the upcoming tracks like the jocks of a bygone era who mined liner notes and Rolling Stone articles for information about the artists on their playlists. Clearly a student of rock and roll, Pelsor knows the music he plays. What’s more, much of that music is chosen by Pelsor himself. Locally owned and operated, there are no corporate playlists to adhere to at WTTS.
“I’ve got a couple of features where I get to pick the music,” Pelsor says as some of that music plays. “I do a Friday morning donut where I pick three songs with a common threat. Today is keyboardist Rami Jaffee’s birthday. He’s from the Foo Fighters.”
That freedom isn’t something Pelsor takes for granted. A longtime veteran of the corporate radio scene, Pelsor eschews pablum playlists for seldom heard rock classics and new music that appeals to the discriminating rocker. And while much of the music is indeed new, Pelsor’s show has a decidedly old-school feel to it as the radioman talks about his wife, his toddlers, and even the pups who all define his life outside of radio.
“Here, they leave it up to us,” he says emphatically. “The pressure is down so we feel the freedom to take deep breaths and get creative and have fun while still serving the audience and giving them what they expect from us.”
What that audience expects is an unscripted, improvisational, rock and roll radio show that isn’t afraid to be different. For instance, WTTS has a live concert stage right in the studio. Big-name acts have performed on that stage to promote concert appearances here in Indianapolis.
“We try to pick stuff that’s grown up,” Pelsor says of the WTTS rock philosophy. “We try to pick stuff that has that sort of old-school sensibility, but with a new-school sound. We’re very careful to pick the right stuff.”