To those who radio experience is limited to turning the dial in their car, hosting a radio show might seem like a difficult job. Using sound and recording equipment, learning about broadcast laws and guidelines, narrowing down a playlist each week, not to mention somehow drawing in listeners – it’s definitely not for everyone. Amy Orlomoski, however, doesn’t focus on the harder aspects of running a radio program. The “dirty little secret” of bluegrass broadcasting? “It’s just plain fun!” she says.
Orlomoski will celebrate her 25th year as a bluegrass broadcaster this year, with the past fifteen spent at WHUS, the University of Connecticut’s station. She’s currently one of the hosts of the Bluegrass Café, and can be heard on alternating Sundays from 4:00-7:00 p.m. Her first experience with bluegrass radio came during a college class. “I took an Introduction to Broadcasting class during my sophomore year as an undergrad at Eastern Connecticut State University,” she says. “When it came time to volunteer to be on the radio, bluegrass seemed like a good fit.”
She has tried to spread her love of bluegrass to other areas of her life, as well. As director of the Andover Public Library in Andover, CT, Orlomoski has tried to introduce bluegrass music to her patrons by incorporating it into some of the library’s events. A quick glance at the library’s blog or Facebook, for instance, lets area residents know about an upcoming Friends of the Library summer concert featuring Connecticut-based bluegrass group Amy Gallatin & Stillwaters. Orlomoski also says that she has helped produce several bluegrass events for the Canterbury Historical Society (a Gibson Brothers concert is coming up in September, for those in the area).
Orlomoski has spent time at several stations around Connecticut, and has no plans on stopping anytime soon. “I’ll stay around the University of Connecticut and WHUS as a volunteer broadcaster for as long as they’ll have me,” she says.
We recently had the chance to ask her a few questions about her thoughts on bluegrass music. Here’s what she had to say.
How would you define bluegrass music as a genre?
“My personal definition of ‘Bluegrass Music’ might be a bit narrower than how some folks might define it, but perhaps more broad than what others would say. A lot of Bluegrass music is in the feeling of the words being sung, but just because the instrumentation might include a banjo, mandolin, or fiddle, it doesn’t always make a song ‘Bluegrass.’ It’s just a combination of things for me when defining ‘Bluegrass Music.'”
What form of bluegrass do you most enjoy?
What bands do you consider examples of the form you most enjoy?
“The first band that really captured my attention in bluegrass in the early 1980s was the Johnson Mountain Boys. They were the whole package, and really spurred me to listen to the bands and performers that had inspired them. These days, I love to listen to several different bands, from the traditional sounds of Danny Paisley & the Southern Grass, as well as Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice, to the less traditional, but still incredibly enjoyable, Gibson Brothers.”
If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
“For variety, I might choose any of the Time-Life ‘Best of Bluegrass’ recordings, as long as they’d include at least one track from the first generation folks. However, for the sake of nostalgia, I might have to go with the Johnson Mountain Boys At the Old Schoolhouse double LP, as the record captures the spark that first really captured my interest in bluegrass.”
What album is currently in your car stereo?
“Hank Williams, 40 Greatest Hits.”
Artists interested in submitting their music to Orlomoski for airplay consideration can send copies of their albums to her via the radio station. “I’m old-fashioned,” she says, “and still prefer to receive a physical CD with actual, legible liner notes.”
WHUS Radio, The University of Connecticut
Student Union Building, Room 412
2110 Hillside Road, Unit 3008R
Storrs, CT 06269-3008
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