The popular weekly radio program, Bluegrass Breakdown, hosted for nearly 25 years in St Louis, MO on KDHX, will no longer be airing new episodes over a dispute with station management. Hosts Walter and Willa Volz pulled their involvement after station management fired 14 volunteer show hosts in a loosely organized strike against these decisions.
Walter tells us that dissent within the ranks of the station’s many volunteer hosts, which includes the Volzes, started when a 36 year veteran, Tom “Papa” Ray, was removed following a charge of bullying. When a number of other hosts spoke out in support of Ray, they were fired as well. A great many listeners shared their outrage over his removal, as his show The Soul Selector had a large following in the area.
The Volzes aired their last episode earlier this month, one they had broadcast live each week in order to continue to fulfill listener requests in real time, even in the digital age.
“Our show, Bluegrass Breakdown, aired its final broadcast on October 1, 2023 after 24 years and 9 months on KDHX, as we joined our fellow DJs on strike to show our solidarity with those who were terminated. No one really knows why the staff is doing this, outside of the so-called ‘strategic plan’ to be more diverse, and be more involved with the community.
The community and supporters of the station are against what’s happening, but they continue removing DJs. The staff claims the station is in the best fiscal shape it’s ever been in, but it seems to me a staff of seven will struggle to get everything that needs to be done, done.”
This situation crystalized just ahead of the KDHX fall pledge drive, which Walter says went very poorly for the station. He tells us that many listeners have reacted by discontinuing their financial support. As a public radio station, KDHX depends on local contributors for a large measure of their funding.
We had reached out to both the KDHX Board of Directors and Executive Director Kelly Wells for comment on these issues, and whether there might again be a home for Bluegrass Breakdown on KDHX, but have received no response.
Walter and Willa are in discussions with a number of online bluegrass radio networks, so long time fans of Bluegrass Breakdown may yet again hear their voices spinning tunes over the air in the near future.
Updates will be posted on the show’s Facebook page.