The Virginia Museum of Radio Entertainment is a new non-profit organization based in Crewe, Virginia (west of Richmond), at the historic WSVS 800 AM radio station. Its mission is to turn WSVS into a working museum and have it designated as a historic landmark, thus attracting visitors to the area and involving the community with traditional music.
WSVS 800 AM first went on the air in April, 1947. In 1952 Jody Rainwater joined the staff and over his 20 years with WSVS he became one of the station’s most popular air personalities.
In late August 1954 Flatt & Scruggs began a stint at WSVS, where they were based until returning to Nashville in January 1955. The Foggy Mountain Boys did live shows on WSVS and WRVA in Richmond and performed weekly on the Old Dominion Barn Dance. While based in Crewe they recorded their daily Martha White morning radio shows in the WSVS studio and sent them to WSM in Nashville to be broadcast.
WSVS remains a traditional country music station, with classic country, bluegrass, Gospel and Americana music included in its regular format. Bluegrass music is programmed on Monday – Friday from 3:00-6:00 p.m., and live bands perform on the air on Saturdays on the High Noon Hoedown Show. The station’s signal is also cybercast online at www.wsvsam.com.
In March 2009, WSVS 800 AM created a project that engaged local school students, with a focus on education in marketing, promotion, and the arts, enabling them to learn about traditional music and the music business.
This partnership between WSVS and Lunenburg County Public Schools, in Lunenburg, Virginia, allowed middle and high school students to produce and promote their own concerts. The first of these featured young bluegrass phenomenon Sierra Hull.
Forty-three students participated in every aspect of the presentation of the concert, from sound design to marketing sponsorships. Students were trained in all areas of production and promotion by the staff of WSVS. Lunenburg County School officials arranged a production meeting at WSVS for the students to record interviews with Hull, produce commercials for the event and create a recorded archive for WSVS and the students. Students toured the facilities learning about the history of the station and its historical impact.
The event was a major success. In just eight weeks, the students had produced the tickets, posters and worked on marketing for the event. The students also focused on sponsorship opportunities, selling $4,800 in sponsorships to local businesses in their community. The concert was held in the Kenbridge Community Center, Kenbridge (Lunenburg County), Virginia. The event sold out in a matter of days, drawing attendees from as far away as New Jersey, and creating $3,400 in ticket revenue for the program. The proceeds from ticket sales went to Lunenburg County Public Schools.
Based upon the success of this event, the Virginia Museum of Radio Entertainment was created by a board of supporters representing areas of expertise in music, education, tourism and community. Board members include the WSVS station manager since 2007, Chris Gowin, Bobby Wilcox, the Broadcast Projects Director for VMRE, Jim Eanes (no relation to the late singer with the same name), the Historical Projects Director, and the Director of Public Relations Penny Parsons, who is well known for her work in various capacities in the bluegrass music industry for over 30 years. The organization is in the process of creating an advisory board, which will include prominent veterans from the bluegrass, country and Americana music fields.
The VMRE received its non-profit 501(c)(3) status last year following the second of the WSVS / Lunenburg County Public Schools concerts, which featured Riders in the Sky.
The next concert also takes place at the Kenbridge Community Center, 511 E. 5th Avenue, Kenbridge, when, on Saturday, January 29, the VMRE is to be host to Missy Raines & the New Hip.
To get more information on the concert, you can contact the station at 434-645-7734.
Here is a video of Missy Raines & the New Hip performing Duke of Paducah, a tune from her Compass Records’ CD Inside Out (Compass 7 4498 2).