- Divakar at the 2014 Weenie Roast at PNC Music Pavilion. (Photo by Jeff Hahne)
We are well aware that we've already written a story about 106.5 The End's 20th Anniversary. That's not what this is. While the former cover story in Creative Loafing focused on the anniversary of the station as a whole, we feel that Divakar and his radio show, 90 Minutes (now 90 Minutes Plus) is worthy of a bit of ink on its own. Various Charlotte bands have their own fans and supporters, but none might be a bigger cog in the wheel of the Charlotte music scene than Divakar.
For 20 years at The End, and three years before that as Fox Exposures on its Charlotte sister station The Fox, Divakar has been a champion of the music scene like no other, dedicating his weekly radio show to airing local and regional music for the masses. Though his format leans toward rock, he plays a bit of everything — from Jolene and Fetchin' Bones to Flagship and Matrimony. He guesses he's interviewed 400-500 bands on the show and played more than 20,000 songs.
"I left the Fox thinking, 'It'll be fun for a year or so — an alternative station in Charlotte? How long is that gonna last?' And here we are," Divakar says with a laugh. "(It's lasted because of) the talent in this area and the venues that support them. I now reach into Columbia, Greensboro and the Triangle area, but every week I get so much good stuff sent to me. The management here has been awesome — they've never questioned who I play or what I play and what order I play it and that rarely happens in commercial radio. And we've also been one of the top rated shows on Sunday nights for 20 years."
As he passes this milestone, it's those in the music community itself that have pulled together for a celebration of sorts for all that Divakar has done. The Aug. 22 party taking place at the Chop Shop wasn't created by 106.5 or iHeartRadio or even Divakar himself.
Tracie Nasta, who has been Divakar's assistant and works at the Chop Shop, helped put this free shindig together with his friends and fans as a thank you for all that he's done — and continues to do. On Aug. 30, his radio show will spotlight a number of local bands who have played at past Weenie Roasts. This comes in preparation of announcing this year's local addition to the lineup.
"I've thought about doing one more show and calling it quits, but it's just so much fun," Divakar says. "I don't do this for the thanks, and I don't play my favorite music. I'm the conduit between the music and the fans. I also play young bands because it's fun to see the maturity level change the next time they send me something."
We asked the bands that are participating in the concert — Lü Fjord (The Edwards Brothers and past members of Lou Ford), Ish, Grown Up Avenger Stuff, The Waves, The Sammies, Radio Lola, Tattermask – Bums Lie and The Funky Geezer Show will also be performing — to share their thoughts on what Divakar and 90 Minutes have meant to the local music scene or their bands. Here's what they had to say:
"We appeared on Divakar's show several times over the years. He was always very supportive of Lou Ford. In the age of Clear Channel and media monopolies, he and 90 Minutes have provided the only real opportunity for local artists to be played on Charlotte radio and we're grateful to be part of his 20th anniversary show."
— Alan Edwards of Lou Ford, The Loudermilks
"Divakar was the first person to ever play us on the radio. He has been a champion of the Charlotte music scene for as long as we have been a part of it. In the era of corporate radio, '90 Minutes' is the only place a lot of Charlotte bands ever get to hear themselves played on the radio. It has always been a great way to reach a broader audience than can be found at your local rock club. Congrats to our old pal."
— Chad Edwards of Lou Ford, The Loudermilks
"It's pretty amazing how one guy has been such an outstanding supporter of the local music scene here for 20 years now. You add in the outlet he provides us every week with his show, bringing in bands on air and playing our music on a major radio station, there is no greater music supporter in this city. Without Divakar, this scene would not be the same!"
- Grown Up Avenger Stuff
"There are no words that can truly describe what it feels like the first time you hear your song on the radio. Divakar has been the person behind that feeling for countless bands. We've been fortunate to have been guests on the show, and in person you can't help but realize that the man is driven by a selfless and true passion. He is basically a force of awesome that has had an immeasurable positive impact on our local music scene."
— Grown Up Avenger Stuff
- The Waves
"Divakar was instrumental in uplifting the local rock scene. I remember listening to his show when I first began trying to enhance my palette of timely new tunes. What a powerful way to support bands and make new fans!"
— Hayley Moran, The Waves
"Not to date myself, but I remember when 106.5 started. It was so awesome, they had no commercials, it was the first time I ever heard of Wilco (Casino Queen off of AM was a real game-changer for me), and some guy named Divakar had a local show. There was my chance! The only cool station in town plays local bands... so, my dream of being on the radio seemed a little closer. Now I just needed a band, some songs and some practice.
"Fast forward several years and the Sammies have emerged. Sometime around 2005-2006 we were scheduled to come into 106.5 and record a segment for 90 Minutes with Divakar. Like several other shows, this one was recorded earlier in the day, and played back at night. We had just come off of a little weekend road trip, enjoying ourselves as always, so waking up early and getting back in the van was a little bit of a challenge. I don't think we ever told Divakar we were worse for wear that day, but I guess now is the time to come clean.
- The Sammies
"Throughout the years it is pretty much amazing that he has managed to keep 90 Minutes going. As 106.5 has changed, and corporate structure has taken over, to be able to still eek out a slot for local music should be right up there with making the Statue of Liberty disappear. You are the man, Divakar! Here's to 20 more!"
— Will Huntley, The Sammies
Since the mid-'90s, Divakar has been playing from our collective bands, some including Jill Austin Band's, Jym Chapman and the Migrant Workers, Clifton and La Tool and Die.
- Radio Lola
"Like many, on any given Sunday night, as a Charlotte musician I was glued to that radio waiting to hear if he would play my band. We are honored to be playing this show to celebrate a man who has done so much for the Charlotte and surrounding areas music scene."
— Sean Nowak, Radio Lola
"I remember being brand spanking new to the music scene of Charlotte. Coming from California, I was so enamored by the idea of a big rock station devoting an evening to local music. It wasn't just the air-play, but the interviews and Divakar's obvious passion about local/regional artists. He gave a name to the aspiring. As I began to integrate myself more into the scene, it was the coolest thing to hear a friend's song or a band you had an upcoming show with play on the radio. I've always attached a big sense of pride for my music scene to my Sunday evening listening. He's done such a great job spreading the good news about what we have to offer."
— Dani Engle, Radio Lola
"The whole music scene of Charlotte comes together on Divakar's show. In an industry that's colossally unfair, he still treats the big fish and the little fish of our scene with equal respect. We're so grateful that he's played Tattermask ever since we had (albeit decent-sounding) garage-band demos."