Shehane does “Sunday Bluegrass” on WAGL

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By Greg Summers

Because of the economy, now might not be the best time to start a new business venture, but that isn’t stopping Tony Shehane.

Shehane has started an one-hour radio show, “Sunday Bluegrass” from 4 to 5 p.m. on WAGL (1560-AM). And Shehane, 69, isn’t intimidated by a risk of failure.

“I figured Columbus took a chance on something, so why can’t I?” Shehane said. “It’s really no different. You don’t know if you can succeed if you don’t try.”

Shehane kicked around the idea of starting a bluegrass show for several months and moved forward after talking with his family and WAGL owner Len Phillips.

“I like a challenge,” said Shehane, who is working to establish a fan base and secure sponsors for the weekly radio show, which started April 4.

“Everyone has been very supportive and I figure it’s just like anything else,” Shehane said, shrugging. “The only way to learn how to do anything is by doing.”

Shehane has been pleased by the response “Sunday Bluegrass” has received in its first few weeks.

“You wonder how many people out there are listening to WAGL and I’ve been surprised because it’s a lot more than you think,” he said. “The radio station has the potential to reach one million listeners because of where it’s located.”

Shehane, who doesn’t pick or sing, is a big fan of bluegrass music. He’s been that way since he was a teenager.

“I’ve met some wonderful people through bluegrass music,” he said.

Bluegrass songs tell a story, Shehane said.

“Most of them are about clean living and the importance of God in our lives,” he said. “I like bluegrass because I can take my grandkids to a concert and don’t have to worry about what they are going to be exposed to. It’s wholesome family fun.”

Shehane  has met national acts such as Dailey and Vincent and Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, and he plans to attend the International Bluegrass Music Association convention in September to interview artists for his show.

“For me to get a take on things for our listeners from somebody like Ralph Stanley would a dream come true,” he said. “Bluegrass folks are some of the nicest people around.”

Shehane’s show doesn’t focus only on the big names of bluegrass, though. He also highlights the music of local bands, such as Deeper Shade of Blue from Monroe, N.C., and Chapel Road of Blackstock, a community in Chester County.

“What we’re trying to do is branch out by featuring a mixture of everybody and regular and gospel bluegrass,” he said. “We are going to try different things as we go to see what listeners like the most. You don’t go fishing with a bare hook. You gotta have something to entice the fish to bite. Your hope is to work out the rough spots and make progress with every show. That’s how you build a faithful audience.”  

Shehane is content with a 60-minutes show each week, but if “Sunday Bluegrass” grows in popularity, it could expand.

“Anything is possible. You know, I cut on the Internet the other day and heard an Italian band playing bluegrass. I didn’t understand a single word they were singing, but I know a five-string banjo when I hear it,” Shehane said, laughing.


• What: “Sunday Bluegrass,” a weekly bluegrass music radio show hosted by Tony Shehane

• When: 4 to 5 p.m. Sunday on WAGL (1560 AM)

• For details: bluesgrass29720@live.com or (803) 320-4371 or Sunday Bluegrass, P.O. Box 241, Lancaster SC 29721, attention: Tony Shehane


Contact features editor  Greg Summers at gsummers@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1156.