An Old Fashioned Radio Show With a Twist

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We have so many choices for music these days: pop, country, classical-crossover, choral, and blues, just to name a few. It seems like we hear all of these genres on the radio, and it drowns out my two favorites: old country and bluegrass. It is my mission to change this with my radio shows: Devon’s Bluegrass and American Roots.

The show actually started as part of an American Roots class offered at AMHS a few years ago. Under the instruction of former music teacher Phelan Gallagher, I researched and read about many types of music. Although I liked other genres of music, he saw me gravitate towards the history of bluegrass and choral music. I researched Pittsburgh’s KDKA radio shows from the 1920’s. I was intrigued by a Dr. Pepper contest show which included a full orchestra. From here my show was born.

The first step in this process was working out a storyboard which showed how I wanted the show to play; this was similar to writing an English paper or an essay. We then started recording mock segments to develop my radio show voice.

During the next phase, we commenced the long and difficult process of song choice. I decided to begin with the Martha White Theme song made famous by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. I can almost laugh now thinking how that song got stuck in our heads just from editing the first part of the show. We continued to add bands that I had seen at bluegrass festivals. These included Beartracks and The Atkinson Family. I also included an interview with The Seth Sawyer Band.

I then decided to add an interview with former AMHS chorus accompanist Deborah Young Weiler. Weiler has recorded several albums; the music ranges from her original compositions to her own arrangements of well-known songs. She is a fantastic pianist who is a good friend of mine. Weiler’s music speaks to me because she writes from her heart.  I decided to end the show with a piece that Deborah wrote, “A Sad Goodbye.” I choose this piece because 2013 would be her final year accompanying the AMHS Chorus. Gallagher and I had creative differences about this. His opinion was it would be too sad of an ending; I insisted on keeping this piece in the show.

Gallagher taught me how important it was to have a connection with the audience and keep them engaged with the show. This meant making sure that the music and interviews were balanced and segued properly. Also learning to edit the interviews to choose the responses that would be most entertaining.  As a result of what I learned, I have produced two other shows with fiddle player Becky Buller and Beartracks. I am currently in progress with two other shows; Featuring, Tennessee and Arlington locals Justin and Jamie Zimmer, Deborah young Weiler talking about her latest album, and The Church Sisters from Galax VA.

A lot of people when listening to a radio podcast like to hear new bands every time. Otherwise, it gets stale and they stop listening within the first two minutes. That is why in addition to the music, I showcase the artist; letting them tell us about their band and also some personal stuff as well. This way I feel my show I’d different than anything else you hear on the radio today. Like many people, I don’t like the word, “change”. especially when it comes to what you would assume to be a traditional radio show. Radio used to represent community, culture, and local identity. It is important to me to reintroduce this type of radio show because there is an audience for this type of music. However, there is not a lot of exposure In this day in age because of all of the new options we have for music.

My ultimate goal is to have a mainstream podcast that I can throw into the hat with a popular radio station and podcasts. When I complete a show, I always hope that that I’ve showcased my guest(s) in an entertaining way.

To listen to my most recent show, copy and paste the link below.

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