West Virginia Public Broadcasting is looking at all possible options to revive the popular Mountain Stage radio show in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, members of the state Educational Broadcasting Authority learned Wednesday.
“We’re working on plans A through Z right now,” Mountain Stage executive producer Adam Harris told authority members.
Mountain Stage, which is recorded live, mostly at the Culture Center in Charleston, and airs on radio stations nationwide, has not had a live show since early March.
Show producers are planning a walk-through of a show on Sept. 20, to try to determine if it would be possible to tape an audience-free show while maintaining COVID-19 safety protocols, he said.
With most artists refusing to travel to shows and concerts during the pandemic, Harris said one option would be to rely on local or regional talent, but conceded that’s not really viable.
“We would run out of talent really quickly if we only booked West Virginia acts,” he said.
He also noted that listeners of the more than 240 stations that carry Mountain Stage expect to hear performers from around the country.
“If we started doing a local show, a lot of the stations might wonder what they’ve bought into,” he said.
WVPB executive director Chuck Roberts said doing virtual shows also is probably a nonstarter, since it requires getting clearance from performers’ managers and record labels, and would provide no revenue from ticket sales.
“We’re looking at all the ways we can to get the show back on,” he said.
Harris said a number of special-themed compilation shows are in the works, and said Mountain Stage continues to air weekly with shows from the program archives.
“National listeners are still getting their Mountain Stage fix,” he said.
Also during the EBA meeting Wednesday:
- Roberts said WVPB will miss an FCC-mandated Sept. 8 deadline to comply with a new channel assignment for WVPB-TV in Charleston-Huntington under the FCC’s spectrum repacking order. That means the station could go off the air for viewers who pick it up over the air and not via cable or satellite TV.
“There’s a good chance. I believe the FCC will give us a waiver to not go dark,” he said. “But the waiver will be for weeks, not months.”
Roberts said installation of a new antenna is scheduled for October. He added that he is negotiating with management of WOWK-TV to piggyback off its antenna for the short-term.
- EBA members were advised that longtime member and longtime public broadcasting advocate Ann Brotherton is in hospice care at Edgewood Summit.
“Ann was my mentor when I first came on the EBA in the early ’90s, chairman Bill File said. “There’s been no stronger advocate for West Virginia Public Broadcasting than Ann Brotherton.”
- Members went into executive session to discuss a personnel matter but did not act on the matter when the meeting resumed in regular session.