Mountain Stage at 30: A Radio Restrospective

Mountain Stage at 30: A Radio Retrospective premiered on West Virginia Public Radio on Thanksgiving night (Thursday, November 28), 2013 at 8 p.m.  The documentary explores the rich history of the longest-running live performance radio show on public radio.

In addition, this hour-long special also attempts to identify the multifaceted identity of the program and explores its reach and meaning to listeners all across the world. Interviews collected for the special include the show's producers, established and emerging artists who have performed, and public radio program directors from stations around the country that have carried the show.

Mountain Stage at 30: A Radio Retrospective was produced by Dave Mistich, reporter and digital coordinator for West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Mistich conducted dozens of interviews including West Virginia musicians Tim O’Brien and Kathy Mattea, Mountain Stage band members and the show’s original founders. 

Josh Saul / Mountain Stage

Mountain Stage's 30th anniversary season was certainly one for the books. While some might think this year's stellar roster of artists is extraordinary in some sense, the truth of the matter is that the impressive list of musicians that Larry Groce and the Mountain Stage crew put together sticks pretty closely to what the show has been targeting since its inception.

I'm sad to report that this sixth 'Songs From the Doc' post marks the penultimate in the series that documents the music used in 'Mountain Stage at 30: A Radio Retrospective'. It's been a lot of fun putting these posts together and being able to share the music that's help shape the history and identity of the show.

In case you haven't been tuning in (or, "logging on", rather) to the 'Songs From the Doc' series, the music presented in these posts is pulled from an hour-long radio documentary I produced for the 30 year anniversary of our live performance radio show, Mountain Stage. 

Ask anyone who has worked on Mountain Stage or has been to the show more than a few times and they'll tell you picking a favorite show or act would be like asking someone to choose their favorite child. There's simply been too much incredible music to whittle it down to just one or two favorites.

Vasilia Scouras / Mountain Stage

Lyle Lovett - "Cowboy Man"

One of the most impressive things about Mountain Stage's roster of guests isn't just who has played the show but when they did so.  Acts like Alison Krauss, Ani DiFranco, Norah Jones, Counting Crows, and Phish performed on Mountain Stage before they were widely known across America and the world. While this practice of introducing audiences to emerging talent is par for the Mountain Stage course these days, it took awhile for the show to stabilize itself and be able to develop this side of its identity. One of the first acts the show introduced the rest of world to was country crooner Lyle Lovett in May 1987.

First off, Merry Christmas!

Hello again and welcome back (presuming, of course, you stopped by for the first installment in this series a few days ago)! While Monday's post is a nice run-down of the earliest moments of Mountain Stage, from here on out you can expect some incredible performances from a wide range of artists included in 'Mountain Stage at 30: A Radio Retrospective'.

These Mountain Stage performances from the 1980s will be digitized as part of the Digital Archive Project.
Josh Saul / Mountain Stage

Probably--well, not probably, most definitely--the most fun part of producing a documentary on 30 years of Mountain Stage is getting to cull through the archives of 2,000 hours of live performance radio. It's daunting, humbling, and exciting all in one. There's music recorded on virtually every format: reel to reel, DAT, miniDisc--you name it--they've got it on that medium.

R.E.M. "Likes" Recent Mountain Stage Documentary

Dec 17, 2013

Download the Word version.

Listen online or New Year’s Eve at 3 p.m. on West Virginia Public Radio

R.E.M. “likes” recent radio documentary, posts it on the band’s website

For 30 years and with over 800 episodes, Mountain Stage has been a mainstay in public radio and American music.

Like anything that evolves into a lasting endeavor, Mountain Stage’s success is part happenstance mixed with years of dedication and hard work. Truly, though, it all comes down to the people who made the show possible coming together with a shared vision.

Andy Ridenour and Larry Groce
Mountain Stage

Have you ever wondered how Mountain Stage got started? Retrace the show's history Thursday (Thanksgiving) night at 8:00 p.m., when Mountain Stage at 30: A Radio Retrospective premieres on West Virginia Public Radio.

Listen to a preview of how Larry Groce, Andy Ridenour and Francis Fisher helped start this West Virginia tradition and how they've keep the show going strong for 30 years.