Peter Thompson, producer and host of Bluegrass Signal on KALW Public Media/91.7 FM in San Francisco, California, is a faithful supporter of the IBMA Foundation. Originally from Michigan, Peter’s radio story began on Vancouver Co-Op Radio in 1975. While living in Canada, he served as a program and music director, was for many years a freelance DJ for CBC Radio, taught in a college media program, cofounded Vancouver’s Pacific Bluegrass & Old Time Music Society, and served on its board for a decade. After having the distinct good fortune to marry bluegrass bandleader/songwriter Kathy Kallick in 1994 and moving to the Bay Area, Peter hosted programs at KCSM and KPFA before launching Bluegrass Signal on KALW in October 1995. Since 2004 the program has been syndicated on Bluegrass Country Radio. Peter was the artistic director, publicist, and a board member of Redwood Bluegrass Associates for more than 20 years and served on the Freight & Salvage board for eight years. He is currently a volunteer for the California Bluegrass Association and an active member of the IBMA. He has been nominated for Broadcaster of the Year four times. He has also produced three albums of music featuring Bay Area musicians, and he is passionate about mentoring young people in the field of bluegrass broadcasting. More info here: https://www.bgsignal.com/
Here’s what Peter had to say about his support of the IBMA Foundation.
Q: How did you get involved in bluegrass music?
A: I got bit by the bluegrass bug after hearing King 615 (the self-titled Stanley Brothers debut album on the King label) more than 50 years ago. I started presenting the music on the radio shortly thereafter, and that led to producing concerts and albums, attending music camps, founding and/or serving on the boards of music societies, and making lifelong friends. I’m still on the radio, still making friends, and still loving the music.
Q: Why do you choose to support the IBMA Foundation?
A: The IBMA Foundation is the organization best positioned to offer support to people involved in bluegrass in a variety of situations. I’ve donated to both the Arnold Shultz Fund and the Katy Daley Broadcast Media & Sound Engineering Scholarship since their inception, the first because its long-overdue focus is to award grants supporting activities which can increase the participation of people of color in bluegrass, the second because I remain a believer in the power of radio and other sound media and their importance to the dissemination of bluegrass. Both projects are expanded versions of the work I’ve done at KALW to increase airplay for people of color and to mentor younger people interested in radio. I’ve also been a supporter of the Sally Ann Forrester Scholarship for many of the same reasons, and, of course, the Foundation has numerous other worthwhile projects, grants, and awards.
Q: Why do you think others should consider supporting the IBMA Foundation?
A: The bluegrass community has always been a place where people help each other, and the IBMA Foundation provides a focal point for ways to provide assistance. Just as Bill Monroe worked tirelessly to spread his music, the Foundation continues, in the same spirit, to work for expanded understanding and future growth of bluegrass. I’m grateful I’m able to be a supporter!
RETURN to the February 2024 issue of The Cornerstone.
Photo above: L-R, Peter Thompson and Kathy Kallick