30A Songwriter Radio promotes local talent

Jennie McKeon

Shannon Ireland, Santa Rosa Beach resident and owner of Shadow Media Group, always wanted to be around music, but his talent is in computers, not music.

Born and raised in Fort Walton Beach, the self professed "computer geek" has always been a fan of local music, but never felt that singers and songwriters along the beach received the praise they deserve. With 30A Songwriter Radio, he can contribute to the local music scene without having to pick up an instrument.

"I'm a wannabe," Ireland said jokingly. "Through 30A Songwriter Radio, I get to be involved and bring more exposure to local music."

30A Songwriter Radio is a free online radio, that anyone can stream through their computer or smartphone. The website is also a great resource for both musicians and music lovers. Ireland was inspired by all the websites that promote events, shopping and dining and used that model to highlight singers and songwriters of this area.

"I can't think of any place that's as small as us that has as much talent," Ireland said.

Like any music lover, Ireland finds it hard to pick his favorite among the local talent, but praises the music of Zack Rosicka, Forrest Williams Band and Dannica Lowery. All of the area musicians are unique and uniquely talented, Ireland said.

It was in mid-1980s when Ireland began exploring the music scene and becoming a regular at venues like Shorty's and Pandora's of Grayton Beach. Now he hopes to promote those businesses that lend their stages to up-and-coming musicians, through his events calendar and businesses listing on the site.

The site also features an event page and a listing of musicians that will continue to grow. Musicians can also check out the "Rockifieds," a classifieds-style page that lets musicians get the word out to buy and sell equipment or look for new band members. In the future, Ireland would like the site to have more video content, and he is currently working on a documentary on Lowrey.

"It's a free resource for them to use to get a little more exposure," Ireland said.

The radio stream is curated by Ireland and features mostly original material by locally known artists. The live broadcast is every morning and evening.

Occasionally a local musician will guest host and play live music. The user friendly radio will always be free, Ireland said.

"I listen to it in my car all the time," he said. "It's a cool feeling to be cruising down the road, listening to local music."

Even though the website only launched a few weeks ago, Ireland said the feedback has been unbelievable, and he has seen visitors from over 500 cities.

"It's like a family," Ireland said. "We're all tight. And it's not just musicians, but the people that support them."

Ireland is lenient when choosing musicians to feature on 30A Songwriter Radio because he wants to help everyone. If a Pensacola band regularly plays at

The Red Bar, Ireland said he wouldn't turn them away.

30A Songwriter Radio is a passion project and not a side business. Any revenue the site makes goes right back into funding the hosting and support, Ireland says, adding that he doesn't want to lose focus of the music and musicians.

"The long-term goal is for these musicians to get more exposure outside the local area," he said. "I'd hate to lose them. You do and don't want them to move on to bigger things. I hope to say that I was a small part of their success."

Listen now: Visit www.30asongwriterradio.com to listen to local music and learn more about the musicians featured. Tune in to the radio stream every morning at 9 a.m. to listen to the daily live broadcast. Guest DJs include local musicians such as Dannica Lowert, Derek Givans and Chris Clark.