In our noise-filled lives where silence seems daunting, Radio Free Raleigh remains an incredible outlet for Raleigh locals to hear countless classics from the 80s and 90s along with choice tunes from today’s artists, right at their fingertips. Emerging in 2012, this online music streaming station has featured some of the Triangle's most memorable rock DJs throughout its concise history. For founder Mark Arsen, the ever-changing nature of music radio has shaped the basis of his creation in its more recent form. From this fluid foundation, the early internet rock station's mission statement sprang to life:
"Radio Free Raleigh was created by Triangle 'rock jocks' who once ruled the local airwaves from the 1970s through the first decade of the new millennium on legendary Raleigh FM rock stations; namely, WQDR (rock) and the 'original' WRDU 106.1. In the spirit of those once great FM’s, Radio Free Raleigh became a monthly stream-cast featuring what the DJs did best, and what the audience enjoyed; great rock songs presented by extremely talented and passionate on-air hosts who were connected to the vibe of the community.”
Radio Free Raleigh is unique among the thousands of online radio sites in that it features a free-form playlist, chosen by a collection of Raleigh radio legends who volunteered their time and talent to guest-host on the station each month. Throughout the years, this station has featured guest-hosts such as Bob The Blade of WQDR & WRDU-FM fame, Brian McFaddden, Kitty Kinnin, Dangerboy, Frank King, Bob Walton, Tom Guild, Pat Patterson, and many others.
Perhaps what makes this radio station so unique is the way that it originated and has evolved over time. Since going dark in 2014 after a two-year partnership with Live365.com., the DJ's purposes are now being reassigned from show hosts to solely promoting imaging sweeps, shifting the focus from verbal insight purely to the music itself. While local rock will soon begin taking on a larger role for this station, one of the many goals for the new Radio Free Raleigh on Radionomy.com is to create and deliver a more cohesive yet all-embracing mix of its featured genres. You might even hear a bit of “twang” in Radio Free Raleigh’s mix from time to time, as they also feature some alternative country tunes as well!
Meet Mark Arsen: the man behind the jams!
Beginning his radio career at North Carolina State University’s campus station WKNC 88.1FM in 1989, Mark Arsen eventually made it up the ranks as a night host on his favorite station from his high school years, WRDU 106.1. In 1997, he began to make a name for himself on Raleigh radio by becoming the host of “Mark Arsen’s Big Hair Show”, featuring the greatest pop-metal hits and artist of the “Big Hair 80s.” Arsen would eventually obtain the title of Music Director and Assistant Program Director at WRDU, where he interviewed metal artists and would help host concerts at local venues.
“After college radio, I got my first gig at Rock102.5 on the Outer Banks, where I got even more exposure to some of the cool, new alternative rock of the day. I then moved back to the Triangle to host on-air at the former ‘Classic Rock 93.9 WZZU’ in Durham. The ‘ZZU gig led to WRDU, followed by a stint as Program Director and Mid-Day host at Rock 103 (WRCQ) in Fayetteville, North Carolina.”
From 2007 to 2011, Arsen worked part-time weekends on 96rock, and served as the full-time afternoon talk show producer and Assistant Program Director for Talk Radio 850 and News Radio680 WPTF from 2005 to 2016.
For his entire radio career, Mark has remained dedicated to local North Carolina radio and music; from producing a local rock show on college radio to developing a local and regional music show called “Homegrown” that aired on Fayetteville’s Rock 103 FM in the mid-2000s, his devotion to remaining within the Triangle couldn't be more apparent. He now spends his free time working towards redefining and relaunching his internet radio station. With an effort to have it reach a much wider range of listeners, he is determined to branch out to both Raleigh natives as well as non-local listeners and musicians to feature a community focused listening experience for anyone interested. However his mission to remaining located in the artistic heart of Raleigh remains the same:
"For the relaunch of Radio Free Raleigh, I wanted to do something a little different this time....this station does feature quite a bit of local and regional rock music, but the format is by no means 'local only.' With this new version, I hope to present the station as Raleigh’s independent internet radio home for alternative, modern rock, classic new wave, local and indie rock with a Southern twist. My ultimate goal would be for this station to be played in some of Raleigh’s local bars and restaurants, and have some modest support from area businesses who would like to be associated with a genuine Raleigh brand."
Be sure to listen to Radio Free Raleigh's diverse music mix at https://live365.com/station/a49915, and follow them on Facebook @radiofreeraleigh and Twitter @RadioFreeRaleee.