It’s hard to keep a good man down in bluegrass music (although we all do like to be lonesome now and then), and radio broadcaster Larry Roberts is a prime example of that. Roberts has been a DJ for almost thirty years, and for the past twelve he has been fighting multiple myeloma.
Roberts has been hosting a radio show on Goshen, Indiana’s 91.1 The Globe since 1985, with the exception of one year. “I have had two stem cell transplants that kept me from doing my show,” he says. “I missed one year.” He first became involved in radio as an underwriter for the Folk Sampler program on his local public radio station. The station manager knew he had an interest in radio, so he later asked Roberts to come on the air and bring his bluegrass collection with him. At one point, Roberts was hosting three different shows – one folk, one bluegrass, and one “new age stuff.” However, he says he’s been focused on only bluegrass for the past eighteen years, and currently co-hosts Down Home with Jim Fisher.
Throughout his battle with cancer, Roberts has faced some tough times, but he says that bluegrass has helped him through it. “I love the music and it has the power to get me up after being very down,” he says. “There have been a few down days and all I have to do is play some bluegrass to start feeling good again.”
We recently had the chance to ask Roberts about his thoughts on bluegrass music. Here’s what he had to say.
How would you define bluegrass music as a genre?
“Hard to do today. When I started it was High Lonesome. Today, since all the young folks have been raised on rock or country music (which is just rock with a twang), High Lonesome has just about vanished. In its raw form, Old Time music is the base for all bluegrass. Just listen to Adam Steffey’s New Primitive.”
What form of bluegrass do you most enjoy?
Which artists do you consider examples of the form you most enjoy?
“Steep Canyon Rangers, Blue Highway.”
If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
“Up in the Woods by John Reischman. I listen to it all the time now! A close second would be Manzanita by Tony Rice or Drive by Bela Fleck. I’m a banjo nut.”
What album is currently in your car stereo?
“I mix my own CDs. I do this about every six months and it’s fun to go back and see if I still like stuff a year later.”
Artists who are interested in sending their music to Roberts for airplay consideration can mail a copy of their album to him or direct him to their Airplay Direct site. However, Airplay Direct is not always his favorite place to find new music. “I have a love/hate relationship with Airplay Direct,” he says. “If everything works, it’s fine, but when I don’t get track names and have to type everything in, it’s a pain. I also worry about losing everything in a computer crash, even though I back up.”
His mailing address is:
22533 Remington Ct.
Elkhart, IN 46514
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