A milestone for Dick Spottswood

Dick Spottswood is celebrating 25 years of The Dick Spottswood Show on WAMU this month.

He actually started playing bluegrass on WAMU in 1967 with a half-hour show that station management viewed as experimental programming. This was shortly after he participated in the founding of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine (1966) where he currently serves as a contributing editor.

The Dick Spottswood Show got its official start in 1985 on ‘AMU, and is now heard on the station’s 24/7 online bluegrass station, WAMU’s Bluegrass Country. The show specializes in what Dick characterizes as “obsolete music,” primarily folk and pre-bluegrass recordings from the 1920s-1950s, much of it taken from his encyclopedic collection of old 78 and 33 RPM records.

Bluegrass Country will air a special anniversary edition of Dick’s show on Sunday (July 4) at 6:00 p.m., with an extended, 2-hour version running repeatedly through the following week.

  • 7/4 – 6:00 p.m. ET
  • 7/4 – 1:00 p.m. ET
  • 7/7 – 1:00 p.m. ET
  • 7/9 – 4:00 a.m. ET

A number of his broadcast colleagues wanted to use this occasion to wish him well. First up, his long-time WAMU cohort, Katy Daley.

“He likes to look to the past but he really has been a pioneer in many fields, including broadcasting. Thanks to Dick Spottswood and Gary Henderson for starting WAMU’s first ‘Bluegrass Unlimited’ radio show on Sunday, July 2, 1967. It’s because of their dedication to public broadcasting that listeners in the Metro Washington area are so knowledgeable about bluegrass history.

And now, Dick educates and delights listeners worldwide with his ‘Obsolete Music Hour.’  Thanks, Dick, for all you’ve done.”

Cindy Baucom, whose syndicated Knee Deep In Bluegrass program is carried across the US, offers a similar sentiment.

“On this milestone, I would like to express deep appreciation to Dick Spottswood for his work in the area of broadcasting, which was developed early on not only to entertain, but also to educate. Myself and others in the field owe him a debt of gratitude.”

Dudley Connell, guitaist with Seldom Scene and a lifelong DC-area resident,was effusive in his praise as well.

“Dick Spottswood is a National treasure, pure and simple.

His programming is always surprising and inspiring – the selections on his weekly radio program are diverse, interesting, entertaining and a must-listen-to for anyone who wants to learn about the world of music. From the blues of Blind Willie Johnson and Arthur (Big Boy) Crudup, to the bluegrass of the Stanley Brothers and Dee Stone & His Melody Hillbillies, and even the Calypso music of The Lion and Lord Beginner, we’ve learned to appreciate them over the years, thanks to Dick.

His curiosity and passion, plus an iron-clad memory for the most amazing details, have made his radio show one that we look forward to every week, and can’t imagine being without.

Congratulations to Dick for twenty-five years of the Dick Spottswood Show or as he likes to call it, ‘the obsolete music hour.’  Dick, the work you do is anything but obsolete.  Thanks for keeping this music alive!”

Bluegrass Today also extends our congratulations to Dick. Well done, sir!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.