Luberecki Feels Sirius XM Pinch, Too

Ned LubereckiSirius XM listeners who tune in for Ned Luberecki’s “banjo Sunday” shows will have to rearrange their schedules.

Luberecki lost his Sunday shift on Bluegrass Junction as part of cost-cutting moves, according to sources familiar with the satellite radio giant’s recent decisions. Luberecki’s show Derailed will continue to air on Saturday nights and he will work his usual Saturday shift (banjo Saturday, anyone?).

Word of his reduced workload follows close on the heels of the news that Chris Jones was pulled from his regular weekday shifts, left only with his Saturday shift and his popular Truegrass show.

Jones and Luberecki are contractors, and, thus, more susceptible to the whims of management when it comes to saving money. The changes mean that Sirius XM employees Joey Black and Kyle Cantrell, who is also program director, will provide the only hosted shows on the channel during the week. The sources, who asked not to be identified, stressed that Cantrell was not involved in the cutback decisions.

The music for the unhosted segments will be preprogrammed, prompting some subscribers to complain that could get the same experience playing music on their iPods. Shows on channels for music from the ‘50s and the ‘90s will also be unhosted. The unhosted segments will be programmed by Cantrell, as the overnight shifts are now.

One source, noting that the channels taking the brunt of cuts are popular among older listeners, said with obvious sarcasm, “Apparently, older people don’t need anybody talking to them.”

Sirius XM officials have been asked to comment but have not responded to Bluegrass Today’s requests. Jones and Luberecki aren’t commenting either. (They probably have contract clauses that prevent them from talking to the media without prior approval, a common rider in work-for-hire contracts.)

Jones has made some general comments on his Facebook page. Tuesday night, for example, he wrote: “Simple therapy plan: Read some P.G. Wodehouse tonight, enjoy the unexpected gift of some free time tomorrow and look forward to playing this weekend at Big Sky, Big Grass in Montana with the band.” That band, Chris Jones and the Night Drivers, includes Luberecki on banjo

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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.