A locally produced radio show designed to promote the Mississippi Delta’s connection to roots music that was scheduled to premiere on Delta State University’s WDSW 88.1 The Trail is moving ahead despite challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Delta Roots Radio Hour is set to launch Saturday, Nov. 7, as a series of 15-minute webisodes on the WDSW Facebook page. The show, set to run through the end of the year, will stream each Saturday at noon.
Produced by Big Front Porch Productions and originating from the studios of WDSW 88.1 The Trail, The Delta Roots Radio Hour is funded by a grant from the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area (MDNHA) and managed by the DSU Delta Music Institute (DMI) Entertainment Industry program.
According to organizers, The Delta Roots Radio Hour was originally proposed as a weekly hour-long, live show that was scheduled to begin in late summer of 2020 and was to feature conversation and live “in-studio” performances from local Delta roots musicians, but the COVID-19 pandemic required a change of plans.
“Due to social distancing guidelines, the current physical footprint of the WDSW studios did not allow for multiple musicians to safely perform together in the radio station,” explains show producer and host Tricia Walker, former director of DSU’s DMI. “So we opted to record some brief Zoom conversations with local musicians in order to introduce and raise awareness about the show during this fall and winter, and hope that we can safely produce live shows in studio during the first quarter of 2021.”
Some of the musicians to be featured on The Delta Roots Radio Hour webisodes are members of Cleveland’s Deep Roots artist roster, including the CUZ Band, Jeff McCreary, Variety, Peyton Aldridge, and the Delta String Band, along with guests Betzenzo, the Gran Boiz, and Keith Johnson.
WDSW station manager, Stephanie Sandlin, serves as co-producer and technical director for the show.
“The Delta Roots Radio Hour, in conjunction with the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, has given us a wonderful opportunity to not only serve the whole Delta community but promote the richness and depth of our region to the world through WDSW The Trail on-air and via our webstream. We’re thrilled to be supporting this important community initiative,” adds Sandlin.
American roots music is described as a combination of musical styles that incorporates early music genres and traditions of indigenous groups with ‘shared roots,’ heavily influenced by both the culture and sound of the blues. While it encompasses a broad range of music genres and styles, roots music now includes those genres which were given birth in the Mississippi Delta and the American South: blues, folk, gospel, traditional country, zydeco, R&B/soul, bluegrass, and singer/songwriter styles. Often marginalized on commercial radio, roots music contains a common thread that draws on the lived experience of ordinary men and women and has served as a vehicle for offering the disenfranchised a voice.
MDNHA Project Manager, Will Jacks, commented that The Delta Roots Radio Hour “is a project that’s been a long time coming. Music is at the heart of expression and connection and is able to connect individuals in incredibly unique ways. The MDNHA is proud to assist in bringing more awareness to the influence the Blues has had on today’s musicians. These recordings are informative, authentic, and entertaining – just like a visit to the Delta is for so many.”
The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area is a partnership between the people of the Mississippi Delta and the National Park Service. The mission of the MDNHA is to foster the preservation, perpetuation and celebration of the Mississippi Delta’s heritage through collaboration and sustainable economic development. For more information about the MDNHA, visit www.msdeltaheritage.com.
To watch The Delta Roots Radio Hour, visit www.facebook.com/WDSW88.1.
For more information or to inquire about being a guest on the show, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.wdsw.org.