William E. ‘Bill’ Jefferson passes

William E Jefferson, proprietor of WYTI radio in Rocky Mount, VA, and lifelong performer of bluegrass and country music, has died. He was 92 years of age.

Known as Bill to his family and many friends, Jefferson had been associated with WYTI since it came on the air in 1957. Born in Danville, VA, he came to Rocky Mount first as an announcer and ad sales rep for the station, before purchasing WYTI in 1971. He continued to manage the station and remained active in its business until a recent illness forced him to step away.

WYTI was never a high power station, but satisfied the hunger for traditional country and bluegrass music in rural areas from Martinsville to Roanoke. Bill also performed alongside bluegrass legends in the region, like Don Reno, who was based in Roanoke in the late ’50s and early ’60s.

Though Jefferson’s live shows were primarily country, he always affected something of the personality and style of his hero, Lester Flatt, complete with the hat off to the side on his head and the slow, understated delivery. For many years, he hosted a live country/bluegrass variety program on Cable 12, a local cable network based in nearby Redwood, VA, which was a regional favorite.

A private graveside servicer will be held on Saturday, November 7 at the Mountain View Memorial Park in Boones Mill.

In lieu of flowers, Bill’s family has requested that donations be made to Hospice of Franklin County or Saint Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

R.I.P., Bill Jefferson.

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John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.