Bluegrass Country Radio losing a DC presence

Bluegrass Country Radio, which kept bluegrass alive in the Washington, D.C., area after WAMU decided to end its bluegrass programming, is losing one of its main outlets in the capital region.

As of June 21, Bluegrass Country won’t be found on its familiar 105.5 FM frequency around Washington. The signal for that frequency is owned privately and was not part of the deal when the Bluegrass Country Foundation took over programming from WAMU. The new station couldn’t reach an agreement to continue using the signal.

Bluegrass programming will continue to be streamed at and over apps for mobile devices, as well as on 88.5 FM HD Channel 2. The change will affect about one-third of Bluegrass Country’s listeners who primarily listen to 105.5, the foundation said in a press release this morning.

“While the loss of 105.5 FM will be frustrating for a group of our listeners, we will work hard to help them make the transition to new HD and Internet listening modes,” said Foundation President Jeff Ludin.

HD radios provide better sound quality and an expanded signal range, but special radios are needed. The radios are becoming more common, though, as they are included as standard features on more and more new cars. And some home models are available at reasonable prices.

The availability of the terrestrial radio signal was seen as a key part of the effort to take over bluegrass programming from WAMU, foundation leaders said during negotiations earlier this year. But when negotiations with the private owner of the transmitter went south, the board and the station staff quickly shifted gears to try to educate those who will lose the signal.

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About the Author

David Morris

David Morris, an award-winning songwriter and journalist, has written for Bluegrass Today since its inception. He joined its predecessor, The Bluegrass Blog, in 2010. His 40-year career in journalism included more than 13 years with The Associated Press, a stint as chief White House correspondent for Bloomberg News, and several top editing jobs in Washington, D.C. He is a life member of IBMA and the DC Bluegrass Union. He and co-writers won the bluegrass category in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest in 2015.