Since 1976, bluegrass lovers in San Diego, CA have enjoyed a weekly dose of new and vintage grass on The Bluegrass Special, hosted by Wayne Rice on KSON. The show survived numerous ownership and format changes over these 44 years, but last week Rice was informed by station management that the show was cancelled.
Wayne tells us that a few days after airing his Bill Monroe birthday show on September 13, he received notice that all weekend programming originating at KSON was cancelled effective immediately. Management, i.e., Entercom, who had merged with previous owners CBS Radio in 2017, had decided to rely entirely on network programming on the weekends, presumably as a cost savings effort.
For many years Rice has been a popular figure in southern California, as a bluegrass performer, for his Christian youth ministry, and, of course, as a radio host. He has been an active member of the IBMA, and produced their annual awards show for several years. Multiple bluegrass concerts in the San Diego area were promoted by Wayne over the years as well.
In a particularly ironic note, Rice was honored with the IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award during last week’s World of Bluegrass celebration, for his lifetime’s work advocating for the music in southern California. Presentation of his award was given virtually by Compass Records President Alison Brown, who grew up in the area and recalls many happy hours listening to The Bluegrass Special as a youngster.
Here is her presentation, recorded before the show was cancelled.
Because of the timing of the show’s retirement, Rice wasn’t even able to announce it on air, and offer an adieu to his many loyal followers.
“I didn’t have the opportunity to say goodbye to my listeners–who some of my KSON colleagues called Wayniacs,” he said. “So, if you were a Wayniac … So long and THANK YOU! We had a good run and I’m very proud to have been the radio voice of bluegrass music in San Diego for so many years.”
Rice says that he has no plans to resurrect The Bluegrass Special, but sounded open to the idea should an offer be forthcoming. He will, however, continue to offer his Bluegrass Bios web site, which is continually updated as a service to bluegrass radio hosts and the wider community of grassers.
He also intends to keep up his work with the IBMA and the IBMA Trust Fund.
Truly the end of an era for bluegrass on the west coast.