NEWINGTON - People are intimidated by her passion, Christine Palmer said, and it’s not necessarily because of the metal music she plays.
Palmer runs Metal Fortress Radio, a station she ran between 2004 and 2006 as a program on 91.7 FM WHUS out of the University of Connecticut. She now runs it out of an office in her home, “We’re entrepreneurs,” said Palmer, who runs the station with the help of her fiance, Tommy “Beast” Blardo, a member of the Enemy Remains band. “We built something independently.”.
When WCCC FM, considered the state’s leading rock station, went off the air in 2014, Palmer felt an obligation to bring her station back to fill the rock void and expand it online.
“We asked, ‘Who’s going to play this music?’” said Palmer. Although WCCC has returned as IRock Radio, Metal Fortress Radio can now be considered the leading source of alternative and heavy rock music in the state.
The station, which once had 15 employees but downsized to better focus on quality content, streams 24/7 via their website, metalfortressradio.com. DJ talk shows and alternative rock air typically in the morning, with more of a heavy and liquid metal mix during the day and the real, heavy, dark, thrash metal playing after 8 or 9 p.m.
“We give everybody a chance,” said Palmer. She added the station will still devote a lot of airtime, though, to Connecticut’s grandfathers of rock, Fates Warning, which paved the rock way before another popular group, Dream Theater.
“That is the truth,” said Palmer.
With listeners from all over the world, including Germany, Australia and a gym in Ohio that constantly streams the music, the station started as a way to give more of a spotlight to “garage bands.” It also gave everyday, normal listeners a chance to be in the limelight through their events. And that’s what sets the station apart from other radio stations, Palmer said.
“We’re the fast-growing rock station with red carpet flair,” said Palmer.
The station has attended red carpet events, such as Kim D's Posche Holiday Fashion show at The Brownstone in New Jersey, with members from the Housewives New Jersey, and has allowed fans to walk down a “step and repeat” photo shoot previously with their Awards event in 2014. The station has also toured around the country, as part of the Van's Warped Tour, and also once featured a Howard Stern impersonator on their radio show at WHUS on the UConn campus.
“We play some peculiar, unique stuff,” said Palmer. While maintaining an ASCAP license and paying the fees to play the bigger bands, Palmer said the non-corporate, independent focus of the station, paired with support for veterans, is what makes them so likable. Palmer said her son would listen to the station while deployed in the Army from Fort Drum in NY and that she continually supports local school music organizations in the Newington school district.
“We did it to really help the Connecticut music scene,” said Blardo.
The radio station can be reached at 860-948-9028.