Time to Help A Bluegrass Friend

WAMU's Bluegrass CountryPardon me, while I get a little personal.

Bluegrass musicians and fans are known for digging deep when a member of the community needs a helping hand.

Now, it’s time to help an institution that has done so much for bluegrass over the years – WAMU’s Bluegrass Country. The Washington, D.C.-based station, which reaches a global audience at www.bluegrasscountry.org, is in the midst of a fundraising drive that may determine how much bluegrass will be available, and how often.

The bluegrass channel’s goal is $50,000. While no one is saying straight out that Bluegrass Country will disappear if the goal isn’t met, WAMU General Manager JJ Yore has mentioned in a number of recent interviews that the channel has to be put on the path to sustainability.

WAMU’s Katy Daley put it succinctly in an interview earlier this year with Bluegrass Today: “NPR statistics show that it sometimes takes seven years for people to decide to become members…We don’t have seven years.”

I’ve been a supporter in the past, and I will continue to help out. But I can’t do it alone. I’ve heard countless bands and fans praise WAMU’s Bluegrass Country over the years. If each of them sent along a contribution, the goal would be easily met and bluegrass would continue to be heard on the air in the nation’s capital and beyond.

“WAMU’s Bluegrass Country is an absolutely essential part of the bluegrass equation in Washington, D.C., said Randy Barrett, president of the DC Bluegrass Union. “It’s way more that just a radio station – it’s the heart of our musical community.”

Katy Daley about to announce the next act at WAMU's black box theater - photo by David MorrisEven folks far beyond the Beltway know of WAMU’s importance. At IBMA’s World of Bluegrass, Daley is treated as bluegrass royalty, and rightly so. In Washington, she came up with the name for the annual award presented for lifetime achievement by the DC Bluegrass Union – the Washington Monument. The reality is, Katy herself is a Washington Monument, and she deserves to win the award in the near future. She’s been playing and pushing bluegrass for decades, and many of us hope to hear her – and her colleagues — on WAMU for years to come.

Personally, I can’t imagine listening to WAMU without bluegrass. It’s the first radio station that played a song I wrote, at least that I’m aware of. (Thank you, Lisa Kay Howard). And it’s the station I turn to hear new recordings and in-studio live performances of some of the biggest names in bluegrass.

$50,000 sounds like a lot of money, but you don’t have to write a check with a lot of zeroes to make a difference. Many small donations can get the job done and let the station’s management know that we want bluegrass to stay on the air and on the Internet.

WAMU and its talented staff have helped bluegrass in a big way for many, many years. It’s time for us – for each of you – to pay them back. Let’s not find out what WAMU sounds like without bluegrass.

Donations can be made through the web site, or by calling 1-877-448-2242.

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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.