Radio: Blue Ridge Music on the Air

In the Blue Ridge Mountains, the airwaves are alive with mountain music, as they have been for nearly a century. The long tradition of regional radio is one of the most important reasons for the continued popularity of traditional music here. Many musicians who grew up in the Blue Ridge learned their very first old-time songs as youngsters by listening to stations like Mount Airy’s WPAQ, or catching broadcasts of the Grand Ole Opry beamed from Nashville. Musicians and music lovers coming up today have the same wealth of regional radio available to them—and in more formats, with the rise of streaming online broadcasts and downloadable podcasts of traditional music shows.

WPAQ can be heard on 740 AM and online. WPAQ’s Merry-Go-Round, featuring great local talents, is the second-longest-running live music radio show in the United States, behind only the Grand Ole Opry. There are many other stations that regularly feature mountain music. Whether the programming is recorded or live, vintage or contemporary, radio stations featuring traditional music and musicians are an important and popular aspect of the music scene in the Blue Ridge region today.

Radio Shows Celebrating Traditional Music

These noteworthy radio shows focus on traditional Appalachian music and place special emphasis on North Carolina artists:

  • Across the Blue Ridge, hosted by Paul Brown, 8 to 9 pm Saturday and 6 to 7 pm Sunday (online streaming available)
  • Bluegrass for Lunch, hosted by Bob Webster, 12 to 3 pm Wednesday, (online streaming available)
  • Bluegrass Review, hosted by Frank Pearsall, 8 to 10 pm Friday, WSQL 102.1 FM (online streaming available)
  • Close to Home, hosted by Don Pedi, 8 to 10 pm Saturday, WCQS 88.1 FM (online streaming available)
  • Country Roots, hosted by Wayne Erbsen, 7 to 9 pm Saturday, WCQS 88.1 FM (online streaming available)
  • Goin' Across the Mountain, 11 am to 7 pm Saturday, WNCW 88.7 FM (online streaming available)
  • Gospel Truth (bluegrass gospel), hosted by Tom Pittman, 7 to 9 am Sunday, WNCW 88.7 FM (online streaming available)
  • MerleFest Radio Hour, hosted by Joe Greene and Steve Johnson, 6 to 7 pm Sunday, WNCW 88.7 FM (online streaming available)
  • Mountain Mornings (bluegrass and old-time), hosted by Jasmin Melton, 6 to 7 am Sunday through Friday , WNCW 88.7 FM (online streaming available)
  • This Old Porch, hosted by Carol Rifkin and John Fowler, 3 to 6 pm Sunday, WNCW 88.7 FM (online streaming available)

Podcast - Down the Road on the Blue Ridge Music Trails

For bite-size samples of the history and stories behind the music traditions of the North Carolina mountains and foothills, check out the "Down the Road on the Blue Ridge Music Trails" podcast.

You can find and listen to the complete collection of episodes here. Episodes also air weekly on WNCW-FM (88.7) at 10:15 am on Tuesday mornings and around 4:30 pm on Sunday afternoons (during the show This Old Porch).

Radio Stations That Include Traditional Music Programming

While you’re traveling through the North Carolina mountains and foothills, be sure to turn your dial to these stations to hear traditional mountain music.

  • WCQS 88.1 FM, Asheville (online streaming available)
    (also 88.5 FM Murphy, 89.7 FM Waynesville, 90.5 FM Brevard, 91.3 FM Franklin, 91.5 FM Dillsboro, 94.7 Bryson City, 95.3 FM Cherokee, 101.7 FM Highlands, and 107.5 FM Black Mountain/Montreat)
  • WBHN 1590 AM, Bryson City
  • WKYK 940 AM, Burnsville
  • WWOL 780 CM, Forest City
  • WBRF 98.1 FM, Galax, Virginia (online streaming available)
  • WETS 89.5 FM, Johnson City, Tennessee (online streaming available)
  • WKVS 103.3 FM, Lenoir
  • WSGH 1040 AM, Lewisville (online streaming available)
  • WART 95.5 FM, Marshall (online streaming available)
  • WDSL 1520 AM, Mocksville (online streaming available)
  • WCIS 760 AM, Morganton
  • WPAQ 740 AM, Mount Airy (online streaming available)
  • WECR 1130 AM, Newland
  • WKBC 800 AM, North Wilkesboro
  • WNCW 88.7 FM, Spindale (online streaming available)
  • WTOE 1470 AM, Spruce Pine
  • WJFJ 1160 AM, Tryon
  • WKSK 580 AM, West Jefferson
  • WFDD 88.5 FM, Winston-Salem

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