Behind The Mic with Rusty Cempre

Rusty CempreIf you’re looking for DJ Rusty Cempre during the week, you’ll probably not find him on the air, or even in the studio. Most likely, he’ll be under the hood of a Hyundai at the dealership in Charlottesville, Virginia where he works. Like many bluegrass DJ’s, broadcasting is simply a pastime for him. “My time and efforts behind the mic are all volunteer,” he says. “Music is an addiction and bluegrass is my fix on Sunday mornings.”

Cempre says he’s been listening to radio every day since he was ten years old. “I used to sleep and do homework with headphones on,” he says. That lifetime love of music and the radio led him to Charlottesville’s WNRN thirteen years ago. For the past seven of those, he’s been the host of Bluegrass Sunday Morning, on the air every Sunday from 7:00 to 11:00 a.m. Prior to that, he was also a mobile DJ for twenty-five years. Listeners also might occasionally hear him combining his work and hobby when he serves as a guest on WNRN’s Sunday Morning Wake Up Call to share auto repair advice.

For Cempre, bluegrass music is essential to his life. He says it’s a genre that helps folks remember how life used to be, and can also just help in bringing a smile to our faces. “Bluegrass music has healing powers. Any time you’re smiling and tapping your feet you feel much better,” he says.

He recently took the time to answer a few questions for us about his thoughts on bluegrass. Here’s what he had to say.

What form of bluegrass do you most enjoy?

“Modern Traditional.”

What artists do you consider examples of the form you most enjoy?

“Lonesome River Band, The Boxcars, Dailey and Vincent, Cherryholmes, Special Consensus, Balsam Range, Town Mountain, and Flatt Lonesome.”

If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, which one would it be?

“Lonesome River Band – No Turning Back. It’s just the perfect recording and is what I feel bluegrass should sound like. It’s a great collection of songs with award winning musicians and a nice mixture of vocals. I never travel without it.”

What album is currently in your car stereo?

“Balsam Range – Five.”


Artists who are interested in submitting their music to Cempre for airplay consideration should send a copy of their album to him at the radio station. “Physical copies are always my favorites,” he says.

2250 Old Ivy Road, Suite 2
Charlottesville, VA 22903

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About the Author

John Curtis Goad

John Goad is a graduate of the East Tennessee State University Bluegrass, Old Time & Country Music program, with a Masters degree in both History and Appalachian Studies from ETSU.