Song Of The Mountains, the popular syndicated television program featuring live, on-stage bluegrass performances, is cutting ties with its host, Tim White.
White, who has hosted the show from its inception in 2005 through to the current time, where it is carried on 190 PBS affiliate stations nationwide, tells us that the Board of Directors of the Lincoln Theatre in Marion, VA has informed him that they want to take the show in a different direction, and that he wishes them well with this effort.
The show and the show name are the property of the Lincoln Theatre, where the show is filmed. The concept for what became Song Of The Mountains originated with Joe Ellis, an area businessman, who has since served on its Board. He and White are credited with bringing the show to life, finding funding and technical people, and shepherding it to public television, along with original show producer Andre Burroughs.
According to White, he met with the President of the Lincoln Theatre Board of Directors this past Tuesday, who asked for his resignation. But he refused, insisting that he had no desire to leave the show. In response, he was informed that his contract would be terminated, which again according to White, has another three and a half years remaining on its term.
Tim didn’t hide his displeasure when we spoke with him on Thursday.
“I wish them well going forward at Song Of The Mountains. I’ve enjoyed the ride… I put my heart and soul into this show, and I’m really sorry to be leaving.
I can’t say enough about the great team we’ve had here. Andre Burroughs was our producer and audio engineer the first nine years, and he did a great job. Horse Archer Productions has been great since Andre left. I’m just sorry that I didn’t get to thank everybody personally, not knowing we had done our last show together.”
The next taping for Song Of The Mountains is scheduled for June 13, with performances by Mark O’Connor, Fiddling’ Carson Peters, The Bluegrass Mountaineers, and more.
Attempts to reach the show staff and the Lincoln Theatre Board of Directors have been unsuccessful to this point. (Updated 10:55 a.m.)
We spoke this morning with Kristin Untiedt-Barnett, Executive Director of The Lincoln Theatre, and she shared a few thoughts on the situation.
“Tim has worked for our organization for the past ten years, and we certainly appreciate the work he has done. At the most recent Board meeting it was decided that we would do some reorganization, and work in a different direction.
We are looking for new partners in the future, and felt that we needed to take a step back, and make a fresh start.
We all wish Tim well in his future endeavors, and know that we’ll be seeing plenty from him in bluegrass music.”
Kristin also said that they have a special guest host for the upcoming June taping, and perhaps in August as well. Beyond that, they are examining all possible options.
This move comes on the heels of some considerable instability in the management of the program of late. Four members of the Board of Directors have resigned in recent months, and a number of show staff have left as well.
We spoke with Scott Schumaker, owner and operator of Appalachian Mountain Spirits in Marion, VA, who left the Lincoln Theatre Board after being continually frustrated by what he described as poor planning and poor execution by an Executive Committee that made all the decisions without consulting the full Board.
“They are losing money, but they let the wrong person go. What they’ve done to Tim is unfair, and unfounded.”
White is active in the bluegrass scene in east Tennessee where he lives, hosting a daily radio program from Bristol. The Time White Bluegrass Show is carried by 60 syndicated stations across the US, largely in the southeast.
He also performs actively in the area, and is an in-demand artist, sign painter, and mural painter.
Tim has not decided whether he will take any action against The Lincoln Theatre for breach of contract, and has already begun loose discussions with another party about a new television program.
It appears that Tim White will be fine. The fate of Song Of The Mountains seems less certain.