The PineCone Bluegrass Show is now streaming live! Now, no matter where you are in the world, you can listen to the PineCone Bluegrass Show live every Sunday night from 6-9 p.m. EST! Can't listen on Sunday? PineCone staff compile a Spotify playlist of music from each week's show - learn more on the Current Playlist page! PineCone also maintains a playlist archive going back six months.
This year (2014) marks the PineCone Bluegrass Radio Show's 25th anniversary - the show has been airing weekly on 94.7 WQDR since Jan. 29, 1989!
Between 6 and 9 p.m., you can call in your requests at 919-860-9470. The PineCone Bluegrass show is a charter voting participant in both the Bluegrass Unlimited and the Bluegrass Today national polls, which rank the popularity of new bluegrass song releases.
In 2012, WQDR was nominated Bluegrass Radio Station of the Year by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America, and Larry Nixon was nominated for Bluegrass Deejay of the Year! In 2011, WQDR was named the Top Country Station in the "Large Market" category by the Country Music Association.
By Ben Runkle
Every Sunday evening at six o'clock thousands of radios all over Central and eastern North Carolina are tuned to 94.7 for the PineCone Bluegrass Show on WQDR-FM in Raleigh. Whether at home, at work or riding in their cars, some 4,000,000 listeners per year know that from the opening strains of Earl Scruggs' "Nashville Blues," Larry Nixon and Tim Woodall will broadcast three hours of the best in bluegrass, old and new.
The program is sponsored by the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, or PineCone. "I had been on the PineCone Board of Directors for about four years," Larry says. "At that time, we were the only organization in the area promoting acoustic and traditional music and were starting to become pretty well known for our concert series at Raleigh Little Theater. WQDR had been getting requests for bluegrass but didn't know much about it, so their management came to us to see if we had any ideas. Bill Willis, who was then PineCone president, was in the band Patchwork with Tim Woodall. He knew of Tim's interest in radio and introduced us. I knew I wouldn't be able to do a show every week so Woodall and I talked it over and decided we could alternate. WQDR was and is the top country station in the market and we were very excited to have the opportunity to start a bluegrass program which would reach such a large audience."
Tim explains why having two hosts sharing one program gives the PineCone Bluegrass Show its own special kind of spin. "Nixon and I have different tastes in bluegrass--there are things he likes to play which I don't and vice versa so I'm convinced that between the two of us some music gets on the air which wouldn't otherwise. If you listen every week you're bound to hear something you like." Larry has a couple of his own unique theme shows, as well. After tabulating all the requests from his programs, he presents the results in a Top 10 Requests countdown at the end of each year.
Getting the show up and running took some time and a little outside assistance, too. Larry explains, "Penny Parsons and Barry Poss of Sugar Hill Records were a big help in the beginning, donating records. Record Bar (now part of Wherehouse Music) also gave us quite a few records and between those two we were able to establish the core of our library." The first broadcast was on January 29, 1989, and the show quickly gained a loyal following. Being placed on the schedule right after NASCAR has proven to be a big advantage with many fans just leaving their radios on after the race to enjoy the bluegrass music. Soon, the show was expanded from two to three hours and claimed the top position in the ratings for its time slot. It has been there ever since.
Tim Woodall recalls the early days: "At first the station had a board operator to run things while Larry and I just announced, answered the phone and decided what records to play. It was that way for about a year and then we started handling everything ourselves. Looking back, I hardly knew what I was doing at first but it didn't take long to get comfortable with it."
Both DJs are also pickers. Tim began learning guitar at age 10 but later, through the influence of the Flatt & Scruggs and Porter Wagoner TV shows, found himself drawn to the banjo and pedal steel guitar. He now plays banjo with the popular bluegrass group The Grass Cats and is co-writer of "Together We Can't Go Wrong" sung by Rhonda Vincent on Mark Newton's CD Follow Me Back To The Fold. After starting on banjo at 12, Larry played guitar in several folk and beach music groups through college and is now singer and guitarist with his country/folk trio Nixon, Blevins, & Gage. However, adhering to the maxim of bluegrassers everywhere, the two have not given up their day jobs.
In 2001, Susan Newberry, PineCone’s former Executive Director, explained what the radio show meant to PineCone: “The radio show provides the highest visibility for us of any of our programs because it reaches so many people. We've been very fortunate to partner with … a station which covers 22 counties and all the way to the Virginia state line…
"What we get is exposure," she continues. "Even though no money changes hands we feel we're reaping a great benefit by being able to reach such a huge audience to promote our other programs. There's no way we could afford to buy that amount of advertising. As far as I know, it's a unique arrangement for a nonprofit like PineCone to be working this closely with a commercial station.”
When Tim is asked how in the world he has time for a radio program in addition to all his other interests and obligations, he just shrugs and says, "I love bluegrass and I love radio."
If you love bluegrass and are near a radio or a computer on a Sunday evening in the Carolinas, tune it to 94.7 WQDR-FM, find a comfortable chair or fire up the grill and join us for the PineCone Bluegrass Show. We start at six. If the race doesn't run too long, that is.
*Excerpt from the article “The PineCone Bluegrass Show”, published in Bluegrass Unlimited, May 2001. Ben Runkle joined PineCone in 1985 and has been a member ever since. He was President of PineCone’s Board of Directors from 1996 to 1998.
Larry Nixon is from Elkin, North Carolina, near Galax, Virginia, the heart of mountain and traditional music country. When Larry was 12, his grandfather gave him a banjo, and since then Larry has been hooked on music, winning a talent show in the eighth grade. Larry has enjoyed playing all types of music but has returned to his "roots," the re-creation and preservation of the finger-picking styles of guitar that he first heard in the 1960’s. Larry attended NC State University and is a consulting engineer in Raleigh. He was one of the original directors of PineCone.
Tim Woodall is the elder statesman of local bluegrass group The Grass Cats. Having played banjo for 30 years or so, he also has interest in many other types of music. As a studio musician, Tim has recorded pedal steel, bass, and guitar in addition to banjo. Occasionally he will step out front to sing lead if there are cue cards available, but he is more comfortable singing harmony. Another hobby since the age of 13 is radio broadcasting. He acquired his FCC License in 1967, and his first radio job came along in 1989 with the Pinecone Bluegrass Show.
If you want your bluegrass CD to be considered for airplay, please send your CD and information to:
The Pinecone Bluegrass Show
PO Box 28534
Raleigh, NC 27611
The PineCone Bluegrass Show is a reporting station in Bluegrass Unlimited and Bluegrass Today music polls.
Submissions become property of PineCone and will not be returned.