Modesitt promotes new energy, attitude at RMA Presents

Photo Provided Joshua Swiger, an executive producer, joined RMA Presents in 2012. He is with the country band The New Relics.

PARKERSBURG — A Parkersburg-based entertainment promoter says it has been quietly adding events to its lineup for the past seven years, but it’s personnel and expertise that makes things grow.

RMA Presents, the operating name of Rick Modesitt & Associates, was established in 1985 by Rick Modesitt, a former police chief, member of the House of Delegates and Wood County commissioner.

The music production company and booking agent for fairs, private events and festivals considers itself a partner rather than a vendor, according to Modesitt.

“We have the attitude that we want to be booking your event for 30 years, not one year,” he said. “That is a partnership.”

The company is “looking to the future in an ever changing music industry,” Modesitt said.

Photo Provided Chris Morlock of RMA Presents poses with country and western music star Brad Paisley, a West Virginia native.

“The music industry changes on a daily basis,” he said. “And with the advanced technology that comes forward every day, we know that it will continue to change for the next several years.”

So Modesitt said he has brought in younger people into the company.

They are:

* Josh Swiger, 40, who is in the graduate music program at West Virginia University.

* Cody Kerns, who was a volunteer intern and is now paid.

Photo Provided Cody Kerns, right, with country singer Canaan Smith. Kerns started as an intern with RMA Presents.

“A young guy with a ton of great ideas and enthusiasm,” Modesitt said. “When we took him on, I did not even realize he was from Wood County.”

* Chris Morlock, another young man from WVU pursuing a career in the music business.

“As someone who is 62 and who has operated RMA for 32 years, I wanted to ensure we had fresh blood in the company and good people to move forward with what we have established thus far to continue on long after I am gone,” Modesitt said.

In 2012, RMA added Swiger of Morgantown as a new agent. Swiger is the leadership behind the alt-country band The New Relics.” Its single, “Beautiful,” was No. 54 on the Billboard Charts.

Modesitt and RMA Vice President Chuck Lipps saw Swiger as a “great fit to the organization.”

“Working with RMA and developing the West Virginia music scene is something I want to help grow,” Swiger said. “We have great musicians and events in this state and we need to take care of them.”

Swiger brought to RMA more than 15 years of experience and artist management, live production management and a professional recording studio, Blues Alley Studios in Morgantown. He also is a voting member of the Country Music Association.

RMA now has agents in multiple areas of the state.

Swiger recently added another dynamic to the business. He is a master’s graduate candidate for the Music Industry Program at West Virginia University. The program teaches students how to navigate the industry side of the music business.

He teaches and runs the WVU record label, Mon Hills Records, as part of his studies.

Swiger for the last two years has given presentations at the West Virginia Fairs and Festivals Convention about booking entertainment and managing events.

“Josh has his hands in a lot of things,” Modesitt said. “If it’s booking with RMA, running his studio, managing some of our up-and-coming groups like The Joseph Sisters and Ryan Cain and the Ables, teaching at WVU and listening to the local music scene, he seems to be everywhere.”

With the WVU connection, RMA is mentoring college students and giving them opportunities to see what the music industry looks like outside of the classroom.

Kerns, a Parkersburg native, interned for RMA in 2016 and 2017.

“I met Cody on campus and we talked about his passions for the music industry. He was a smart young man and could handle himself in a professional environment,” Swiger said.

Kerns works parttime with RMA and is the director of the Kanawha Knights, an independent competition drum line aimed at youth percussionists aged 13-22.

In addition to Kerns, another addition from WVU was Morlock, a Music Industry program graduate. Morlock was raised in the Eastern Panhandle and hopes to develop that region and a larger relationship with WVU.

“Chris is great. He has the right attitude about growing events and networking. His first event with the WVU Alumni Association this fall ran perfect,” Modesitt said. “I had Swiger there as back up, but he is so organized, personable and fun that it reflected in the event. His education is serving him well.”

Faced with so many fairs and events in the state, but a declining population, RMA finds creative ways to get people to those events by closely working with the event and targeted advertising.

The younger guys bring fresh ideas, Modesitt said.

“It’s again all about partnerships with events,” he said. “We are West Virginia and want to take care of West Virginia events. It’s not about make $5 today. It’s about growth.”