It looks like there is at least one group in the DC capitol area hard at work to save their beloved bluegrass radio in the district and outlying areas.
The Bluegrass Country Foundation has been formed specifically to raise the necessary funds to continue the operation of WAMU’s Bluegrass Country after the station ceases its association on December 31. They are organized as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit, so that donations to the Foundation are tax-deductible.
Foundation President Jeff Ludin, who is also the President of the Lucketts Foundation who host concerts at the old schoolhouse in Lucketts, VA, says that many of the people involved with the area’s two bluegrass associations, DC Bluegrass Union and the Capitol Area Bluegrass and Old Time Music Association, have leapt into the fray to help get this effort rolling.
In addition to Ludin, the Board has brought on Dick Cassidy, a life-long broadcaster with a wealth of experience in the technical aspects of both online broadcasting and terrestrial radio, Nelson Ford, a major contributor to Bluegras Country for many years, and area businessman Steve Herman.
Jeff says that he and the Board have confidence that they can pull this off, both in acquiring the station and running it going forward.
“I think we have a reasonable business plan that can cut some costs, and raise money in new ways that WAMU can’t.
We’ll have our first formal meeting in a week or so. The biggest discussion is how we will define bluegrass. Fundamentally, we would keep it the same, since people love the station. But we need to be open to the tastes of younger fans. We know we will ultimately have to make some changes.
Our primary focus right now is raising the money necessary to operate Bluegrass Country. We have set a fundraising goal of $200,000 before October 17.”
The initial plan, if their proposal is accepted, would be to continue to operate from the WAMU studio in Washington, while reserving the possibility of moving to one of a number of potential possible locations in time. Retaining the current on-air staff would also be a high priority, continuing to operate as a non-profit, public-type station over the air and online.
Funding Chair Randy Barrett, President of the DC Bluegrass Union, tells us that despite the big number, raising that large amount of money in a month is realistic.
“I’m pretty optimistic from a fundraising perspective. We raised $26,000 in the first few days. We’re in discussion now with several potential large-scale donors, and given how much people love Bluegrass Country in this area, I feel sure we can do it.
Part of our proposal will include a benefit concert for next spring, a mega-concert featuring top bluegrass artists. The artists have been the first to recognize the importance of keeping this going. They’ve been calling us asking what they can do to help.”
But it can only happen if people hop on board and make their donations. The total is up to $35,000 and donations can be accepted online by check or major credit card.
While nothing has been settled for them to take over operation of Bluegrass Country, the Foundation has a meeting scheduled to present their proposal to WAMU on October 17. Though many people think that the bluegrass station is for sale, this is not an accurate description of what is occurring. WAMU simply wants to end its long association with the service to focus its energies on what it sees as its core function, news and information, and plans to select a successor who can demonstrate the financial, technical, and business wherewithal to keep it going.
Should they be successful, the Bluegrass Country Foundation would be the new home, and new owner, of Bluegrass Country.
Anyone who sees value in the continuation of this 24/7 bluegrass signal, whether you would listen online or on your radio, is urged to make a contribution to the Bluegrass Country Foundation as soon as possible.