Now more than ever, public media is essential. Give Now.

Written by: Tom Rieland
Date: February 25, 2014

Chris Johnston in the studio

Chris Johnston in a familiar pose taking a request from a Bluegrass Ramble listener on 89.7 NPR News. Photo: WOSU

In our recent Columbus Neighborhoods: The South Side documentary we told how Appalachians who moved to Columbus to work in local steel mills and glass factories brought their music with them.  In the 1960s and 1970s bluegrass clubs thrived along Parsons Avenue on the South Side.

Those clubs disappeared, but since 1980 WOSU has been a big part of the bluegrass music scene in central Ohio. That’s the year we launched The Bluegrass Ramble radio show.  It began on 820 AM and always had a loyal following, despite reception issues. Today, the Ramble has a strong FM signal at 89.7 and an equally strong following.

Chet DeLong, Chris Johnston, and Jake Young take turns hosting the program, and each brings their own unique delivery and selection of songs from their personal libraries.  Ramble substitute hosts include Rich Baker and WOSU TV Director Brent Davis. We’ve now incorporated a playlist into the WOSU website, so you can visit for details about a song that caught your ear.

Our region has a high concentration of bluegrass music enthusiasts, but sometimes we’re still surprised at the reach of the music. Once we were giving a station tour to a group of Somali immigrants, and one man asked to see the Bluegrass Ramble studio. “I listen to the music because the themes in the songs are the same we sang about in Somalia: love and loss and heartbreak and hope,” he told us.

Listen to The< Bluegrass Ramble 6 pm to midnight on Saturdays and 6 pm to 10 pm on Sundays on 89.7 NPR News.