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Ryan Yarmel takes us on route to something different

A young man with short brown hair and facial hair wearing black headphones talks into a mic.
Credit: Jake Walsh
The Route Music Director Ryan Yarmel

Ryan Yarmel, who has been the host of Radioland with Yarms Thursday nights on WRUR-FM and WITH-FM (Ithaca) since 2019, takes on a new role as music director of The Route, steering you on the road to exciting music discovery. We sat down with Ryan to ask him more about his background and what he sees for the future of the station.

Q. How did a career in public radio find you?
A. I have been passionate about both music and radio for as long as I can remember, and I’m told before that too. Seminal early memories for me are participating in Maria Gillard’s “Old Time Radio Summer Camp” held at Writers and Books growing up and becoming addicted to Car Talk via my dad (I proudly listen to the Best of Car Talk reruns podcast). Radio has the power to create sacred spaces and intimate connections, and I am honored to help foster the musical landscape of the Finger Lakes on the airwaves.

Q. What are your top three responsibilities as music director for WRUR?
A. I am responsible for crafting and curating the musical identity of WRUR, with the aim of honoring and inspiring the musical tastes of the station’s loyal listeners. We are blessed with a rich musical heritage regionally and aim to bolster the incredible music being created in our own backyards. WXXI is fortunate to partner with the University of Rochester and growing/sustaining that relationship is incredibly important.

Q. You’re also a prolific local musician! For people who may not know, how would you describe the style of music you play, and what brought you to performing live music?
A. Musical performance has been part of my life since I began studying the upright bass classically at age 10 and picking up guitar/banjo along the way. I’ve “genre-hopped” quite a bit over the years, from electronica to old time folk music, having settled on the Country-Folk descriptor for the most part.

Q. Now with 105.9 focusing mostly on news, what are some changes coming to WRUR 88.5 that people can expect?
A. In addition to increased music programing on WRUR/WITH, we plan on championing both emerging and established artists in the region through featured on-air conversations, and reducing any barriers for airplay via our new Online Music Submission form.

Q. What has been your favorite part of being on air or just being on the radio?
A. I’m so grateful to spin music on the radio that is impactful and supportive to listeners, wherever they might be. WRUR & WITH are here for you. Over 100 years after Rochester’s first radio station launched, it is a privilege to be involved with a medium produced by humans for humans.