Many of the bluegrass broadcasters we’ve written about in this series are volunteers, spending chunks of their evenings or weekends spinning some of their favorite songs for listeners of community, campus, and even commercial radio. For others, however, broadcasting has been their life. One bluegrass DJ for whom radio became a career is Peter Bruce of Flagstaff, Arizona’s KAFF.
Bruce says he first became interested in radio as a kid listening to late night AM shows from around the country. His interest continued as he grew older, picking up FM radio in his car, and then in college as he studied broadcasting and began working on-air. “As a career broadcaster, I’m committed to the world of radio,” Bruce says.
He currently hosts three different shows on KAFF. His main program is the daily Flagstaff Mornings, which Bruce says is a mix of local and regional news, and interviews with local personalities such as teachers, politicians, small business owners, and musicians, as well as weather, music, and sports. His two other programs focus on more specific musical genres. Under Western Skies features western music (both classic and contemporary) and cowboy poetry, while Blue Mountain Bluegrass is a weekly one-hour bluegrass show.
Even with constantly evolving technology and the rise of Internet and satellite radio, Bruce still believes in good old AM and FM. “Despite competition from other entertainment arenas, radio remains a vibrant and integral element of American culture and life, and it’s free!” he says.
We recently had the chance to ask Bruce about his thoughts on bluegrass music. Here’s what he had to say.
How would you define bluegrass music as a genre?
“Bluegrass to me is an innovative musical art form, combining improvisation and structure with an ear on past tradition. With elements of folk, country, jazz, and blues, bluegrass is a truly unique American genre.”
What form of bluegrass do you most enjoy?
What artists do you consider examples of the form you most enjoy?
“Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen.”
If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
“New Grass Revival – Friday Night in America. Excellent song selection, combining covers and originals. Impeccable musicianship, soaring vocals, and solid songwwriting.”
What album is currently in your car stereo?
“Kruger Brothers – Between the Notes.”
Artists who are interested in submitting their music to Bruce for airplay consideration can send a CD to him at:
Peter Bruce, c/o KAFF
1117 W. Route 66
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
If you host a bluegrass radio show and would like to participate in our chart as a weekly reporter, please fill out this form and we’ll get right back to you.