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WUOT, the Knoxville NPR station licensed to UT, has received a $10,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for a five-part project to highlight Knoxville’s connection to country music.

WUOT is one of 37 public radio and TV stations nationwide to share in more than $366,000 of funding to produce projects associated with acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns’s upcoming documentary Country Music. Eight years in the making, the eight-part, 16-hour documentary chronicles the highs and lows of country music’s early days, from southern Appalachia’s songs of struggle, heartbreak, and faith to the rollicking Western swing of Texas to California’s honky-tonks and Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. Country Music will premiere Sunday, September 15, and will stream for free on various PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video app.

“WUOT is excited to be part of this project celebrating East Tennessee’s own country music scene—past, present, and future,” said Todd Steed, the radio station’s music director.

WUOT’s project, Raised in Knoxville—which plays off the old saying that country music was born in Bristol and raised in Knoxville—will include four components:

  • A five-episode podcast series will air on WUOT and WUOT-2, and be available for download and on-demand streaming beginning August 15.
  • Special editions of local programs Studio 865, which features interviews and music, will air in August and September; special editions of Dialogue a monthly call-in show, will air in September.
  • Two Knoxville artists— Mic Harrison, rhythm guitarist and lead singer in Mic Harrison and the High Score, and Trisha Gene Brady, a solo artist who spent seven years as a member of the Black Lillies—will each write and record a country song commissioned for the project. WUOT will chronicle the process online so people can watch the songs develop from early practice to the final mix. The songs will be available for free digital download, and 200 commemorative CD’s will be produced. Watch a short video clip about this project.
  • A free live concert on September 6 will featuring a one-time supergroup of Knoxville musicians who will play through the history of country music from the region. The concert will be presented live on WDVX’s Big Plate Special, with rebroadcast on WUOT and East Tennessee PBS. The two commissioned songs will be among those performed.

WUOT’s partners on the Raised in Knoxville project include East Tennessee PBS, WDVX Public Radio, the Museum of Appalachia, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, the Knoxville History Project, the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound, the Arbor recording studio, Appalachian Media Archives, the UT Office of Communications and Marketing’s video unit, UT’s Department of History, and local musicians and graphic designers.

Listener-supported WUOT 91.9 FM serves listeners throughout East Tennessee and parts of Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia. Its format includes classical and jazz music, news, and public affairs. The station broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and streams online at wuot.org.

WUOT’s second audio channel, WUOT-2, is available on HD Radio, internet radio, and online at wuot.org.

Contact:

Todd Steed, WUOT music director (865-974-5375, steed@utk.edu)

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, ablakely@utk.edu)