We think of ballads, blues, spirituals, folk, and Americana – country music’s old-time roots.
Our town of Bristol, on the Tennessee-Virginia state line, first played its part in country music history when Ralph Peer, a record executive from Victor Talking Machine Company, traveled to Bristol in 1927. Peer had set out to find and record the makers of “hillbilly” music. In just two weeks, he recorded 76 songs in his portable recording studio from artists like Ernest V. Stoneman, The Carter Family, and Jimmie Rodgers. Commercial country music would gain widespread popularity in homes across the country – both on record and on the radio.
Bristol has been part of country music ever since. With your help, we won’t just be part of history; WBCM - Radio Bristol will be part of country music’s future.
WBCM – Radio Bristol is a radio station and online media center that listeners can find on the dial at 103.5FM, online, and through an app on your mobile device. Programming will focus primarily on American roots music. Our free streaming content will include three channels:
- Classic: Playing the greats, and more obscure artists of old-time, bluegrass, and country music, and including archival material and rare recordings from America’s past.
- Americana: Featuring a diverse selection of contemporary artists, as showcased at our annual music festival Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion.
- Live and Local: Live original programming focusing on local and regional music and culture from yesterday and today. This is the programming of our physical station at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum.
First and foremost, our programming will give up-and-coming artists a platform to be heard. It will explore country music’s diverse history with live performances, lectures, seminars, and interviews – in-studio, in the museum’s state-of-the-art Performance Theater, and recorded remotely around the region.
Located inside the Birthplace of Country Music Museum (a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate), WBCM – Radio Bristol will broadcast from a studio equipped with historic vintage gear, restored to meet the modern needs of a fully functional radio station. The studio will serve as a working exhibit where visitors and students can experience a live broadcast firsthand.
We have a 1940s Raytheon console, microphones (including an RCA 44 used by Tennessee Ernie Ford for WOPI broadcasts), and other pieces of historic gear that were generously donated, but we still have a long way to go before we hit the airwaves this summer.
We’ll use your donation to fund:
- Staffing: We’ll start with a small staff of two people and focus on programming.
- Programming: We’ll invest in some amazing music catalogs with your help, creating fresh and original programming like our Farm and Fun Time revival.
- WBCM - Radio Bristol App: An app that will give you, the listener, full access to an abundance of country music programming, including both video and audio. Funds will also go towards app management and new media personnel.
- Production Construction: Funds will go towards the finishing touches for our separate production space, including computers and software.
- Webcast Fees and Services
As part of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, WBCM – Radio Bristol is a registered 501(c) 3 nonprofit, which means that not only is your donation tax deductible, every single cent will be spent wisely.
So what do you think of when you think of country music? We know one answer will be WBCM – Radio Bristol. With on-air and live programming, we’ll continue to dig into country music’s roots and blaze new trails from this special place of Bristol.
Risks and challenges
A registered nonprofit (and Smithsonian Institution affiliate), The Birthplace of Country Music will oversee the operation of WBCM – Radio Bristol, along with Program Director Tony Lawson, who brings over 20 years experience to the station.
Like any fledgling project, we may encounter a few bumps in the road, but we’re confident that our talented staff has the experience and creativity necessary to make WBCM – Radio Bristol not just a great radio station, but a successful one.
We’ll keep an open line of communication with you – our donors – during and after the Kickstarter campaign to keep you posted on our progress. We’re up for the task and hope you’ll join us!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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