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    Woodies 101

    For those of you who don’t know, the 5th Annual mtvU Woodie Awards are being held this year at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City, bringing to the stage a big list of indie and upcoming artists. On Nov. 19th, fans of such talents as Santogold, Lykke Li, and even L’il Wayne will be able to see them perform, present, and take home the Woodie, a symbol of college students’ love for new music. Stony Brook University can take special pride in the fact that its own college radio station, WUSB, is also up for an award – the College Radio Woodie.

    I was able to speak with Ross Martin, one of the Executive Producers for the show, before the big night.

    Kwame Opam: So what can you tell me about yourself?

    Ross Martin: I am the Programming and Director for mtvU, which is a 24-hour college channel from MTV, and I’m one of the Executive Producers of the Woodie Awards, which is November 12th in New York.

    KO: What can you tell me about the network?

    RM: You know, mtvU is the only 24-hour college channel for college students by college students. We reach about 10 million college students across the country in over 750 schools. We reach them on air, online, on mobile phones, and through campus events throughout the year.

    KO: And what’s it like being the Executive for the Woodie Awards? How long have you been doing it?

    RM: The 5th Annual Woodie Awards is one of the most incredible moments of the year because it has become a college music “moment of truth” where college students decide who gets up on that stage, and decide who wins a Woodie. College students designed the Woodie Awards, and college students are running the show. This year is remarkable because the competition for the Woodie Award is fierce, and it’s become pretty impossible to predict a winner in any category. We also have a new category in the College Radio Woodie, which for the first time is a chance for us to acknowledge the incredible work that college radio DJs do everyday and every night, breaking new music. They’re really being the vanguard for emerging artists. And on the other side, our Best Music on Campus Woodie is a chance to recognize the college bands that have blown college students across the country away, not just on their campus but on other campuses as well. So we have five college artists and bands that have made it to the final round and are competing for national attention and a Woodie Award.

    KO: What do you think of the previous winners?

    RM: I think the Woodie is a crystal ball for what’s about to break big. College students are prophesying the future of new music everyday on campuses across the country. So if you look at the history of awards like the Breaking Woodie, or Performing Woodie, or Woodie of the Year, they’re an amazingly accurate way of foretelling what’s going to break big in the year to come. I think that artists on mtvU know that if you’re gonna break big, you gotta go through college students to get there. So the Woodies become an opportunity for college students to lift their favorite artists up on their shoulders and carry them to bigger, broader successes. So that’s what the Woodies are all about. I think it’s an outstanding year. We’ve just announced some killer performances. Lykke Li, Vampire Weekend, Santogold, and All Time Low will take the stage, in addition to a couple of surprise performers. I think it’s going to be an incredible night of pure music.

    KO: Why do they call them the Woodie Awards?

    RM: You know, it’s a tradition that we borrowed from Sour Grape Records, a great indie label. The idea is that if you don’t go “gold” and you don’t go “platinum”, you go “wood”. You, as an artist, connect to a legion of passionate fans, and that’s what the Woodie Awards are all about. [They are] about purity, about authenticity, and about the visceral connection to college fans who love your music and live their life to it.

    KO: And would you like to see anyone in particular win this year?

    RM: (Laughs) Nice try! No. I think that’s an incredibly eclectic group of nominated artists this year. For the first time we’ve seen in the history of the Woodie Awards, no artist [has been] nominated in more than one category, and that really speaks to how eclectic college music fans really are. The range of voices as you look across the nominees this year, it’s just a really compelling group that we’re really proud of.

    KO: Just to close up the interview, is there anything else you want to add?

    RM: I mean, we’re seeing unprecedented numbers of college students voting online at mtvu.com to support their favorite artists this year, so we know that there’s this great momentum leading up to this year’s show. So we hope that if you can’t make it that night on the 12th, you tune in and watch it on MTV, MTV2, or mtvU.

    The mtvU Woodie Awards will be held on November 12th, and broadcast on November 19th.

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