Still Time to Speak Up for Bluegrass Junction

SiriusXM winter meme created by Tom FellerMy opinion, admittedly biased:

The flap about SiriusXM’s plans for Bluegrass Junction isn’t just about the upcoming nine-day disruption of Channel 61 to provide a home for Hanukkah. It’s about the long-term survival of the bluegrass channel itself.

In other words, it’s not just about the Festival of Lights. It’s making sure the satellite radio executives see the light.

Yes, the powers that be at SiriusXM pledge that Bluegrass Junction will be back after the holiday disruption. But without a fuss now, they might come back to our favorite channel the next time they need to boot something for the next flavor of the day. And it might be permanent, not just nine days.

In other words, the bluegrass community should act as though the future of Bluegrass Junction is in jeopardy, because, truth be told, it is. It always is. That’s the way it goes with any operation that has keeping stockholders happy as it’s primary concern. We’ve already seen what can happen a couple of years ago, when DJ shifts were cut way back in favor of pre-programmed (read that as less-expensive) music blocks.

(Disclosure: As an investor, I own shares of SiriusXM. As a songwriter, I collect royalties from songs being played on Bluegrass Junction.)

Donna HughesSo what can you do?

First and foremost, sign the petition started by singer-songwriter Donna Hughes. It’s an easy way to let the decisionmakers know that you know what’s going on and that you’re unhappy about it. You’ll be joining a number of big-name bluegrassers and helping reach the goal of 5,000 signatures. There are already more than 4,000 signers.

Here’s the petition:

Next, share the petition on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, and implore your friends to sign it and share it, too.

Finally, if you are so inclined, contact SiriusXM directly and object to the decision to let Bluegrass Junction go dark for nine days. The main switchboard number for the company is 212-584-5100. Don’t be shy about asking for a refund, or asking for a supervisor if the person answering the phone isn’t helpful. Some subscribers report receiving a $10 credit. It’s not a huge amount of money, but it adds up. Thousands of dollars in refunds might not prompt the bosses to seek a new home for the Hanukkah program, but it might make them think twice next time.

Whatever you do, do something other than sitting on your hands. The implications for bluegrass music are huge, especially if apathy now leads to Bluegrass Junction disappearing for good down the road. As Donna Hughes notes, the end of a prime source of artist and songwriter royalties could push labels to fold or shrink, resulting in the cancellation or delay of projects from bluegrass artists.

“This will affect all bluegrass radio programming, simply because of the labels and artists who will be struggling to survive,” Hughes said.

There’s still time. Log on. Pick up the phone. Rally your friends.

Act as though an important piece of the bluegrass music industry is at stake. Because it is.

Share this:

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.