Many people believe that the best bluegrass is of the lonesome variety – trains, old homeplaces, and murderers named Willie. DJ John Sentell, however, looks more to the uplifting side of bluegrass to get his fill. As the host of The Bluegrass Gospel Hour, a syndicated radio show currently airing on 87 stations, Sentell says that his goal is to use bluegrass to tell others about Jesus Christ and to share a positive message with his listeners.
“We try to help create a ‘bubble’ around circumstances that can cause someone to be down,” he says. “With the help of bluegrass music, we hope to help melt that stress away and play a song that is the very song with the very message you needed to hear.”
Sentell began working as a broadcaster in July 2008 after he had the idea of adding a bluegrass Gospel program to his church’s Southern Gospel radio station, PRAISE-FM, WVVW in Vienna, WV. Since then, his show has been picked up by a variety of stations all across the United States and even by the Armed Forces Radio Network for broadcast overseas. Listeners can also tune in to Sentell’s latest show on his website, www.smokingbluegrass.com. Although his program is all Gospel, he titled his website “Smoking Bluegrass,” in part so that overseas listeners, including soldiers, can have access in countries that block websites with Christianity-related words in their titles or URLs.
According to Sentell, he hopes that his radio show will help provide encouragement to his listeners. “Times are hard for so many people and maybe the bluegrass music will be able to help block stress and worries and help brighten your day,” he says.
Sentell recently took the time to answer a few questions for us, giving us an inside look at his bluegrass life.
How did you first become interested in radio?
“From childhood I have always loved radio. I would pick the radio over the television because it had so much more to offer. I can remember flipping over to the AM side and tuning in to stations that were hundreds of miles away and thought it was so neat to be able to hear local radio that was so far away through my radio.”
How would you define bluegrass music as a genre?
“I define it as music that touches the heart and lifts the spirit.”
What form of bluegrass do you most enjoy?
What bands do you consider examples of the form you most enjoy?
“Larry Efaw & The Bluegrass Mountaineers, New River Bluegrass, Most Wanted Bluegrass, The Cockman Family, The Thomas Family.”
If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
“The Steeldrivers self-titled album because the passion in Chris Stapleton is like no other!”
What album is currently in your car stereo?
“Dailey & Vincent, Brothers of the Highway.”
Artists wishing to send their music to Sentell for airplay consideration can mail a physical copy to him at:
320 Emmaus Road
Belpre, OH 45714
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