West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Mountain Stage began in 1983 as a radio show, originally hosted by Larry Groce and George Daugherty. One of the longest running contemporary music programs on radio, Mountain Stage is a performance program recorded before a theater audience. It has grown from a once-a-month statewide broadcast to a weekly two-hour syndicated show reaching a global audience with 26 original shows a year.
The radio program’s first national broadcast was in 1985, live from the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. Regular national broadcasts began in 1986 on National Public Radio, and in 1989 Public Radio International took over distribution. Since 1990, Mountain Stage has consistently been aired on at least 100 radio stations and in 1999 began airing worldwide on Voice of America.
Mountain Stage is the largest presenter of musical performances in West Virginia, bringing in more than 100 different performers each year. More than 10,000 people attend the show annually. Usually taped at the Culture Center in Charleston, Mountain Stage has often gone on the road nationwide and to several places in West Virginia. Among the musicians to perform on Mountain Stage have been Mary Chapin Carpenter, Lyle Lovett, Alison Krauss, Bill Monroe, Ricky Skaggs, Kathy Mattea, and others.
Mountain Stage was created by executive producer Andy Ridenour and recording engineer Francis Fisher, who originally wanted to produce a program featuring West Virginia musicians. They approached Groce with the idea, but he persuaded them to shift the show’s focus to give it a national appeal while still staying grounded in the Mountain State. More than 200 West Virginia artists have performed on the show, including traditional, bluegrass, folk, contemporary and country musicians, singers, and songwriters.
This Article was written by Greg Proctor
Last Revised on October 20, 2010